• The Oman Tourism Development Company is focusing on masterplanning large mixed-use developments
  • Plans are at different stages in al-Irfaan near Muscat, Ras al-Hadd, Masirah, Salalah and Musandam
  • The masterplans will include large areas for private sector developers

The Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran) is focusing on masterplanning large mixed-use developments with space for private developers to carry out their own projects, according to acting CEO and COO, Ali bin Nasser al-Rasbi, speaking at MEED’s Oman Projects Forum on 28 October.

“We are looking at a number of masterplans in various governorates of Oman, for mixed-use, lifestyle developments,” said al-Nasbi.

The most advanced mixed-use development is Medina Irfaan, near Muscat Airport, which will cover 6 million square metres. The detailed masterplan is under way by UK-based architect Allies & Morrison, and the project will have its official launch in March 2016.

Omran is also fast-tracking the Ras al-Hadd resort in joint venture with Qatari Diar. The project is in the advanced masterplanning stage and is starting detailed design. Omran hopes to complete the first phase within three years.

Lower oil prices will not cause a drop in tourism investment.

“Tourism is one of the saviours of revenues to the government,” says al-Rasbi. “We are working full swing. There are no instructions to stop, if anything we are being told to spread out as much as possible.”

However, there will be less direct funding from the Ministry of Finance, and more involvement from the private sector.

“We have to find clever ways of doing things, such as PPP [public private partnerships], to reduce reliance on government funds,” says Al-Rasbi.

“We are very much involving private sector, and either find sources of finance involving pension funds, or private developers. We are in dialogue with a number to partner on ongoing projects.”

Omran is also looking at joint ventures and selling stakes in existing or planned assets, as well as space for private developers within masterplans in Masirah, Salalah, Musandam. Through a new subsidiary, Dhiyafa, it is also planning to develop historical sites including caves, forts and castles for tourism.

Omran has 39 projects of various sizes in the pipeline, from concept studies to construction with new projects execution subsidiary Bunyan.

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