In an effort to create more jobs and boost economic growth, Oman has allocated USD $9.6 billion in its 2019 state budget for infrastructure development and the completion of industrial and services projects. Ongoing projects in the small Middle East country include airport and water network upgrades, as well as the construction of hospitals and schools. Additional projects are being implemented to improve the country’s tourism and entertainment infrastructure.
Mall of Oman
According to Alain Bejjani, CEO of the Middle East shopping mall and leisure pioneer Majid Al Futtaim, the construction of the Mall of Oman is nearly 50 percent complete. Originally expected to open in 2020, Bejjani clarified that the largest lifestyle project in the sultanate will now open in the first quarter of 2021 following a five-month delay.
“Every project experiences these kind of normal delays,” he told Muscat Daily this past January. “These things happen in every big project, however nothing with the construction of the mall is unusual. We are focused on delivering the right asset to the market at the right time and with an offering that is synonymous with Majid Al Futtaim.” Despite the minor delay, there is no change in the original estimate for the construction of not only the mall, but also a nearby hotel, City Centre Suhar, and City Centre Sur.
Expected to be the largest mall in the country, the Mall of Oman is being built near the Muscat International Airport and will include 350 stores spread throughout 137,000 square meters of leasable space. It will also include entertainment such as a snow park with an 8,000-square-meter play area, a Magic Planet family entertainment center, and what will eventually be the largest VOX Cinemas in the country.
Although it’s been less than one year since the opening of the new Muscat International Airport (March 2018), Oman officially opened its third full-fledged airport, the Duqm Airport, on January 14. Located roughly 500 kilometers from Muscat, the Duqm Airport can accommodate as many as 500,000 passengers per year, although that number is expected to rise to 2 million in the future. Once no more than a narrow airstrip, the airport only saw 14,000 passengers in 2015 but now features similar amenities as the Muscat and Salalah airports.
Duqm Airport’s passenger terminal covers roughly 9,614 square meters. It also has a similarly-sized cargo terminal with the ability to handle over 20,000 tonnes of luggage on an annual basis and a 38-meter air traffic control tower. The relatively quick launch of the airport is in conjunction with Oman’s plans to further develop Duqm to boost in-country value. Another major project in the city is the Duqm Refinery, which is expected to create as many as 800 jobs by 2022.
Shomookh Complex for Mining Industries and Duqm Commercial Tourism Gate
The first phase of construction projects at both the Shomookh Complex for Mining Industries and the Duqm Commercial Tourism Gate were expected to launch in the first quarter of 2019, according to Bin Zayed International Investment Group chairman Ahmed bin Zayed bin Nasser Al Mahrami. The Shomookh Complex, which is being constructed in the Special Economic Zone in Duqm, will be the first of its kind in Oman and is expected to significantly enhance the national economy in addition to providing upwards of 700 new jobs.
Al Mahrami noted that, by the end of 2018, nine different companies had agreed to build plants in the complex. By the end of the first phase of construction, which is set for the last quarter of 2019, there is expected to be a lime production plant as well as factories for glass, aluminum, and waste containers, among other products.
The Duqm Commercial Tourism Gate, meanwhile, will feature a 32,000-square-meter mall which, in addition to extensive retail space, will house branches for three commercial banks and space for telecommunications companies. The second phase of the project, which is tentatively set to begin in 2020, will involve the construction of a hospital, international school, water park, and five beach-side residential towers for foreign investors and business professionals.
Construction of Highways and Roads
In addition to large-scale infrastructure projects relating to tourism and mining, Oman’s Tender Board recently awarded USD $240 million in government contracts, most of which were for the purpose of building roads. The most prominent project of the 11 tenders concerns the Al Batinah Expressway. The eight-lane highway will be complemented with several new bridges, connections, and interchanges at a cost of USD $211 million.
Additionally, the Ministry of Transport and Communications signed an agreement with Oman Oil Marketing Company (OOMCO) to build a temporary mobile service station in Al Rustaq along the expressway. OOMCO will add another four mobile service stations by the end of February 2019. Another of the 11 government tenders was a USD $500,000 project to install asphalt roads near the Garziz Farm in Salalah.