Y Magazine

Future Oman Taking Shape

Residents of the Sultanate have been given a glimpse into how the country will look years into the future as a raft of infrastructure and tourism projects are revealed.

Road projects worth RO2.1 billion are in the pipeline, while the National Strategy for Tourism 2040 unveiled ambitious plans to take Oman onto the next level.

As the wraps was taken off another luxury resort in Salalah this week, the Minister of Tourism, Ahmed bin Nasser al Meherzi, announced the target was a 6 per cent rise in the contribution of the tourism sector to Oman’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

To achieve this, there will be as many as 20,000 hotel rooms in the country by 2020, compared to the existing 16,000.

Go forward another 20 years and the aim is to make Oman one of the most important and widely visited tourist destinations in the world, added the minister.

More than 2.6 million people visited the Sultanate last year, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).

Cruise ship visitors topped 148,000 in 2015, while guests staying in Oman’s three to five-star hotels brought in a total revenue of RO192.1 million.

Salalah is growing fast. Dhofar’s newest luxury hotel, Anantara Salalah – Al Baleed Resort, set to open this summer in time for the Khareef season, will feature 136 rooms and a lagoon, it was announced this week.

“The opening of Al Baleed Resort – Salalah by Anantara is a major milestone for the region and reflects our commitment to developing the tourism sector to support the local economy on a long-term, sustainable basis,” said Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Chairman of Omran, the government-owned tourism development company.

This week, an agreement was also signed for a RO283 million mega tourism complex in Duqm, covering 741,000 square metres and providing 800 jobs. It will include hotels, a mall, residential complexes, entertainment centre, water theme park and gardens.

Infrastructure projects to cope with the influx of visitors are keeping pace. Around 19 projects are out to tender and five more are under study and design, with another 75 transport tenders under consideration.

Major road projects, including the first part of the Bidbid/Sur and Jibreen/Ibri road, will be completed this year. A huge public transport plan will see expansion of the recently launched Mwasalat bus service (9,000 passengers are using it every day in Muscat), more car parks and (in seven years or above) construction of a metro or light railway and the introduction of marine taxis.

The timetable for the GCC joint railway project is also to be reviewed said the Minister of Transport and Communications, HE Dr Ahmed bin Muhammad al Futaisi.

Still on track for completion by the end of the year, is Muscat’s new airport with the passenger terminal well on its way.