Oman plans to award a dozen contracts this year worth billions of dollars to build and upgrade the nation's airport infrastructure to draw in trade and tourism, a senior airport official says. The government is upgrading facilities in Muscat and Salalah and will build four airports - in Adam, Duqm, Sohar and Ras al Hadd. The undertaking follows 10 years of airport planning to help the country wean itself from oil and gas revenues. Oman's reserves of oil and gas are more modest than those of its Gulf neighbours.
"It's a hugely exciting time in the development of essential infrastructure in Oman," said George Bellew, the chief executive of Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC). He said the scale of Oman's airport plans rivalled even those of Dubai, whose airport plans were more well known, as both planned to build six new runways. "They are really best practice in terms of specifications," he said. "This is a very long vision they are taking."
Contracts for the largest elements of the development package are likely to be announced in the next few months, he said. Those include a new terminal at Muscat International Airport. That facility, to be built at an estimated cost of US$1.5 billion (Dh5.51bn), will accommodate 12 million passengers a year. The terminal will ultimately be expanded in at least three phases to a capacity of 48 million passengers a year.
The pace of the expansion will depend on the growth of the country's tourism industry and the development of Oman Air, which is transforming itself from a small regional carrier into a full-service international airline. Last week the airline said it was investing heavily in training systems and signed a $2.6 million contract with Spatial Composite Solutions of Dubai for two cabin-evacuation trainers.
Contracts awarded to date by OAMC and Oman's ministry of transport have largely been for consulting and design work. The principal engineering consultant to the airports project is the COWI Group, in a joint venture with Larsen Architects. The international engineering and design company ADPI is the project manager. Other contracts to be awarded this year will cover the construction of as many as 400 buildings in Muscat and at the other airports, including an air traffic control tower, a maintenance facility for Oman Air to be run by Lufthansa Technik, and the headquarters of the civil aviation department.
Ras al Hadd, a coastal town near a turtle sanctuary, is being designated for tourism. Its new airport will be capable of handling up to 500,000 passengers a year. Industrial plans are the focus at Duqm and Sohar, where there will be investments in metals and petrochemical plants, ports and dry dock facilities, and logistics. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org