Oman’s Transport & Communications Ministry is seeking bids from consultants for a contract to redevelop Sultan Qaboos Port in Muscat into an integrated tourism hub.

The scope of work entails advising the ministry on how to implement the government’s plan to convert the existing commercial port into a tourism port. The deadline for bids is 8 July.

Last year, the ministry approved a plan to convert Sultan Qaboos Port into a hub for tourists. The port, which currently has the capacity to receive at least three cruise ships a day, is to be expanded to add new cruise berths, ferry and marina berths, a hotel, souks, restaurants and other tourism facilities. It will also offer a marina, including floating docks to accommodate 150 boats and yachts.

From 31 August, cargo and container traffic at the port will be transferred to Sohar Port, where a new terminal is being built that will nearly double capacity to 1.5 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), from the existing 800,000 TEUs.

Sultan Qaboos Port, which will officially be opened as a tourist destination from the beginning of 2015, will continue to receive a limited number of commercial vessels, including ships transporting cereal.

Oman is pushing ahead with a series of projects to expand its seaports, as part of a plan to position itself as a major supply chain and logistics hub in the Gulf.

The Port of Salalah on Oman’s southern coast is building an additional berth for general cargo and a terminal for liquid materials. The local Hani Archirodon Construction is overseeing the expansion, which will increase the terminal’s cargo-handling capacity from 6.5 million tonnes a year (t/y) to 20 million t/y of dry bulk commodities and 6 million tonnes of liquid products. The scheme is expected to be completed by the end this year.

The ministry has also issued a tender for consultancy services to upgrade Salalah’s old cargo terminal. It is currently reviewing bids from seven companies and the contract is expected to be awarded this year.

Other new projects in the pipeline include the expansion of the breakwater at Salalah, along with construction of three deep-water container berths and a new northern breakwater. The new sea barrier will not only protect the port from harsh weather conditions, but will also allow a dedicated cruise terminal to be built. Design tenders for these upcoming projects are expected to be issued in the second half of 2014.

A new container terminal is also being built at Sohar port. Once it is completed, work will begin on a new agro-bulk terminal, which will be the first of its kind in the region. The terminal will handle 700,000 tonnes of grain products and will enable the port to position itself as a hub for agro-commodities.

A related project at Sohar that will kick off simultaneously is the construction of a new sugar refinery, which will be the first to be built in Oman. The agro-bulk terminal will handle the import of 1 million t/y of raw sugar for the facility. Both the refinery and the terminal are expected to take about 18 months to complete.

A new liquid jetty will also be built at Sohar to support the predicted rise in liquid cargo at the port, but tenders have yet to be issued.