The resort will cover an area of 500,000 square metres and centre around five-star and four-star hotels with spa facilities, private apartments and cultural areas. The 700-room development will also be entirely self-sufficient with its own 33-kV substation, desalination plant, wastewater treatment facilities, laundry, and fuel and water storage units.

A key element in the project will be the construction of a road linking the isolated Barr al-Jissah site with Muscat. The government is understood to be evaluating proposals for the highway, which will enable contractors to mobilise via land access. ‘A lot depends on a road being built making the construction cheaper,’ says a project source. The resort is scheduled for completion by July 2005.

Zubair and its operating partner, Hong Kong-based Shangri La Hotels & Resorts, have already put together a strong project team. London-based Wimberly Allison Tong & Goois acting as lead architect. The project manager is New York-based Turner International. The project’s finance requirements are to be arranged by BankMuscatand Oman Arab Bank(MEED 23:3:01).