Interview: Yahya bin Said bin Abdullah Al Jabri
What impact, if any, will the oil price slump have on the construction of the Duqm project?
YAHYA BIN SAID BIN ABDULLAH AL JABRI: In fact, we are not worried about the oil price slump, as we have already passed this phase. The critical phase of the project that could have been affected by the price slump was the implementation of development. Now that we are past this, the development has already begun and is far less likely to slow due to external factors. Most of the key anchor projects were implemented between 2006 and 2010, which was a golden period for oil prices. We are now in a position to push the project forward using a combination of financing methods, including build-operate-transfer models and public-private partnerships. The long-term outlook for the Duqm special economic zone (SEZ) project remains positive. SEZAD is quite confident that the downturn in Oman’s oil revenues will prove to be beneficial to the zone in terms of enhanced productivity, financial sustainability and institutional efficiency.
How can the private sector play a greater role in aiding the successful development of the area?
AL JABRI: The private sector has a large role to play within the project in terms of spurring economic growth, creating jobs, pushing innovation and transferring experience. Frankly, we need large private sector corporations to get behind projects, which are of critical importance to the country.
This will help generate in-country value and will also facilitate knowledge transfer throughout the value chain. It goes without saying that the Duqm project will benefit greatly if various phases are undertaken by the best international corporations, which will bring a breadth of innovation and international best practices to the table.
The Duqm SEZ is incentivising participation in significant projects, which are considered critical in the development of the Duqm project, and are bringing in knowledge and skills, as well as technical and capital resources. In the tourism sector, SEZAD granted Duqm Beach Company a land usufruct in the zone for the Duqm Beach Tourist Resort. The hotel is set to be built on a 450,000-sq-m plot at an investment cost in excess of $500m. The Duqm Beach project itself includes a five-star hotel, a four-star hotel, restaurants and shopping malls. Al Madina Real Estate Company is developing the integrated tourism project that will consist of a shopping centre, hotel apartments, a housing complex and golf course. Additionally, earlier in 2015 the Duqm Park Inn Hotel & Resort of MB Holding Company.
In the housing sector, the Duqm Development Company is executing phase two of Duqm Frontier Town project, which includes residential units, a commercial centre, and sports and entertainment facilities. Moreover the Al Nahada Services Company is developing the permanent staff project that will accommodate 16,000 residents. The region will also see the establishment of the first castor oil production plant in the Middle East. SEZAD has signed development agreements for investments in sectors such as education, health, commerce, industry and logistics. We will, however, begin with anchor projects such as cement and petrochemical manufacturing, then focus on how to incentivise smaller companies down the value chain to play their role.
In what ways is SEZAD investing in human capital to help develop the Al Wusta Region?
AL JABRI: The region is going through its largest development phase ever, and attracting business investments to the region is critical for generating new jobs. We must enable businesses to function in the region by leveraging the investment climate inside the Duqm SEZ, and position Duqm as the first choice for investors. I continue to see opportunities that can be created by different investment projects.
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