Thursday, June 4, 2009

Construction of major hotel at Duqm to commence this year

26 May 2008

Construction work on the first major hotel project in the Wusta region is due to commence this year. The Duqm Beach Hotel, developed by state-owned Omran, will be fully funded by the government.

According to Omran's CEO, Wael Ahmed al Lawati, the beachfront property, equipped with 200 rooms and 28 chalets, has been conceived as a business class 4-star hotel primarily to serve the needs of the industrial port under development at Duqm. The hotel will be built at Ras Duqm, close to the site of the Duqm port and dry dock complex and within easy distance of Duqm town.

"The government has taken upon itself to be the catalyst of development. Omran shares in this
vision, and is supporting Duqm's development through the establishment of this hotel project,"
Al Lawati said.

"Since Duqm is fairly isolated, the hotel is being developed for mid to long stay guest and includes appropriate facilities and conveniences to support this market. Aside from providing overnight stay for visitors and consultants to the industrial port and other projects, it is foreseen that the project will be used as a main entertainment and social centre by the growing local community," the CEO added in remarks to a local newspaper.

Significantly, the Duqm Beach Hotel is set to be Omran's first fully developed homegrown venture which will shortly go out to construction tender.

The company is currently developing, either independently and through joint ventures, more than 10 resort-style projects with a project value in excess of $5 billion. Projects in hand include resort villas, conference facilities, leisure resorts, golf courses and hotels, and the refurbishment of some of the major existing hotels.

Recently, Omran concluded a joint venture arrangement with Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME), one of the world's largest shipbuilders, to develop a major tourism resort in Duqm.

DSME is a strategic partner with the Omani government in the development of a world-class ship repair yard at Duqm. Under a pair of MoUs signed by the government with DSME in March this year, the latter will also build a "frontier town" to accommodate the large numbers of people involved in the development of the industrial port and dry dock. "We are in joint venture with DSME in the development of the tourism resort," Al Lawati said.

"The MoUs are aimed at exploring further tourism related opportunities in Duqm. At present, we are looking at concepts, market studies, and so on. Once the tourism master plan of the area is completed, there will be a potential for a very large resort there. The Duqm Beach Hotel will be one of many components, and will get integrated into this resort development." the CEO said.

Designed and furnished to international standards, the Duqm Beach Hotel will also include a multi-function hall complete with conference facilities to host local and regional events. A business center, multi kitchen restaurant, beach recreation club, temperature controlled swimming pool, spa, and gym, are among a host of other public facilities offered by the property.

Kuwait-based international consultants, KEO, have been retained by Omran as designer and project managers for the beachfront venture. Construction of the property will kick off soon after summer, with the hotel due to open by around National day in 2010.

"We have also signed an MoU with a leading international hotel management chain to operate the property, and an announcement will be made in this regard in due course," the CEO said.

But far from being a purely business hotel, the property is also expected to attract tourists, says
Al Lawati.

"Duqm is a nice place with great beaches and generally good weather, so there is an important tourism and leisure component to the property. It also has potential as a stopover for people driving down to Salalah during the khareef season. Besides, with a proper hotel here, some people would consider choosing Duqm over other tourist locations. Thus, with time, the Duqm property will become a 50:50 leisure and business hotel."

Omran was established in July 2005 as the government's tourism development and investment arm tasked with expanding the Sultanate's tourism infrastructure.

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