As Muscat moves ahead with the tender of the second infrastructure package on its Duqm airport project, it is becoming clear the financial crisis of 2008-09 has not derailed the sultanate’s plans to expand and upgrade its transport infrastructure.

The airport project is part of a larger plan to improve the overall transport infrastructure at Duqm, including building a new dry dock and a ship-building facility in the city.

It is not just Duqm’s infrastructure that is undergoing large-scale development. Work has also started on the first phase of the expansion and modernisation of Muscat International airport, which is expected to increase its capacity to 12 million passengers by 2014.

In the south of the country, Salalah airport is set to undergo development and expansion. There are also plans for new airports at Ras al-Hadd and Sohar.

As Oman moves to diversify its economy away from oil dependence, the sultanate is undertaking a large-scale transport infrastructure development programme to facilitate growth in the tourism sector. In addition to the improvement of airports and ports, the sultanate is planning an extensive rail network.

Muscat recently received prequalification applications for project management on its national Batinah railway project. The railway will be built in three phases, with the first phase involving the construction of a 230-kilometre line from Sohar to Muscat.

The sultanate is also moving ahead with massive investment into upgrading its road network. In May, the Transport Ministry awarded contracts totalling $166m for construction works on the Nizwa to Thumrait road.

Muscat realises that to reach its diversification targets, it needs to press ahead with infrastructure development. The sultanate’s commitment to developing its infrastructure will also offer some relief to local contractors, with a number of big deals set to be tendered in the near future.