The Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran) has signed a RO40m ($103m) financing deal for the JW Marriott Hotel project at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC).

The local Bank Sohar is the lender.

The five-star hotel is under construction and due for completion in 2017.

National Bank of Oman were lead financial advisors, and local Al-Busaidy, Mansoor Jamal & Co were legal advisors for the JW Marriott development.

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 hotel.

The 50,000-square-metre, 304-key hotel is designed to meet the criteria for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the US Green Building Council.

Bank Sohar also extended RO31m of finance for the 296-room Crowne Plaza hotel, being built by India’s Larsen & Toubro.

Due to budget cuts, Omran is planning to increase the level of private sector funding and involvement in its projects. The tourism sector is a key part of Oman’s development strategy.

“New development funding arrangements such as these reflect the growing number of opportunities for private sector equity involvement and the rise of mutual partnerships,” says Salah al-Ghazali, acting chief investment officer at Omran. “We are currently finalising a new investment strategy at Omran that capitalises on these emerging opportunities for tourism development.”

The 1.7-square-kilometre OCEC will include four hotels, a business park, and a retail shopping mall in addition to the Convention Centre Precinct. The exhibition halls scheduled for opening in 2016.

The OCEC is expected to receive 600,000 visitors a year contribute RO200-240m to the national economy by 2030.