• Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran) signs $80m financing deal
  • Local Bank Sohar finances Crowne Plaza hotel at Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre
  • Omran hopes to use private sector finance for future developments

State-owned Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran) has signed a RO30.6m ($80m) financing deal for the Crowne Plaza hotel at its flagship Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) project.

The financing was extended by the local Bank Sohar.

Oman is prioritising investment in the tourism sector in an effort to diversify its economy away from oil and gas exports. However, budget constraints from the sharp fall in oil revenues in 2015 has encouraged the sultanate to turn to the private sector to fund development projects.

“The agreement is part of the financial model pursued by Omran whereby private institutions work hand-in-hand with the government on commercial projects,” said Ali al-Rasbi, acting CEO of Omran, in a press release. “We are currently looking at a similar model of funding for the upcoming JW Marriott Hotel also under development at the OCEC, which like the Crowne Plaza, is scheduled for completion in 2017.”

National Bank of Oman and the local Ahli Bank acted as financial consultants and the local Al-Busaidy Mansoor Jamal & Company was the legal adviser for the Crowne Plaza development.

India’s Larsen & Toubro  won a contract to build the four-star Crowne Plaza Hotel in January. It will have 296 rooms across eight floors, as well as a two-level basement car park for 270 vehicles and restaurants, and associated facilities.

In April, Omran awarded a joint venture of South Africa’s Murray & Roberts and the local Bahwan Engineering an estimated RO40m contract to build the 50,000-square-metre, five-star JW Marriott Hotel at the OCEC.

The OCEC is intended to attract 600,000 additional meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) visitors to the sultanate in its first year. It is estimated that by 2030, it will contribute between RO200m and RO240m a year to the economy, or about a third of Oman’s forecast tourism-related revenue. Completion of the $1.8bn complex is scheduled for 2017.

“As an integral part of Omran’s strategy to broaden partnerships with the private sector, Omran’s 2015 approved budget took into consideration commercial financing for specific developments,” said Al-Rasbi. “This allows the company to diversify its funding sources. Through partnerships, the public and private sectors work in harmony to benefit investors and the national economy in the years to come.”

Other diversification projects hoping to secure private finance in Oman include Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company’s (Orpic’s) $5.2bn Liwa plastics project; Oman Oil Company and Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Corporation’s (Ipic’s) $6bn Duqm refinery project; and the Oman national railway.

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