Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran) has signed a contract with UK-based architect Allies & Morrison to draw up the masterplan for the Al-Irfan mixed-use development.

The 7.4 million-square-metre urban development will be located 4 kilometres from the recently expanded Muscat airport and near the Oman Convention and Exhibition centre, which is currently under development. It will comprise residential, commercial, retail, recreation and tourist facilities, including a new commercial centre.

The tender was managed by The Royal Institute of British Architects as a direct invitation competition, judged on sustainability and integration of the natural landscape and Omani culture.

The bidders invited to develop the concept masterplan were:

  • Allies & Morrison (UK)
  • Broadway Malyan (UK)
  • HOK (US)
  • Nikken Sekkei (Japan)
  • Skidmore Owings & Merrill (US)

Oman is investing heavily in tourism and infrastructure to diversify its economy as oil revenues fall. If it goes ahead as currently envisaged, Al-Irfan will represent the largest development in the country, ahead of the Omagine project north of Muscat, which covers 1 million sq m, and the Ras al-Hadd tourism project, which will cover 2 million sq m.