Oman’s Transport & Communications Ministry is expected to decide on the future of Muscat’s Port Sultan Qaboos before the end of the year.

The UK’s Atkins has almost completed a feasibility study on how the port will be positioned and is advising the government on the project.

The ministry is expected to decide on one of three possible options. These include leaving the port as it is, expanding the port, or transforming the port into a dedicated cruise tourism port.

Triggered by increasing numbers of foreign tourists visiting Muscat, a cruise ship terminal was opened at the port in 2009. Sultan Qaboos port has a capacity to handle 300,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). It also has a 2,592-metre quay with 13 berths.

Oman is busy expanding its ports, including major projects planned for at Salalah. The Transport Ministry has received 19 bids for the $120m expansion of the general cargo terminal at Salalah (MEED 18:10:10).

The expansion of the general cargo terminal involves building an additional 1,200 metres of multi-purpose berths, a new northern breakwater, facilities for dry-bulk commodities and a new liquids jetty. The expansion will increase capacity at the terminal to 40 million tonnes of dry-bulk commodities and five million tonnes of liquid products each year.

The Transport & Communications Ministry is expected to award the contract in early 2011.