The first phase to be built will centre around an 18-hole golf course, expanded in area to 800,000 square metres. About six international golf course designers are bidding for the contract to map out the facility and an appointment is imminent. The initial development will also include a nature reserve, beachfront villas, hotels and a conference centre.

The project company will now build all the residences in the development in a range of designs, rather than simply selling off plots of land. A portion of the villas will be located on reclaimed land. Eight companies are prequalified for the dredging contract and a tender is due to be issued towards the end of the year.

‘We have received initial approval from the government for the resort to be one of the designated areas where foreigners are allowed to own freehold,’ says Al-Lawati. A law allowing expatriates to own property was issued in November (MEED 12:11:04).