$1bn sustainable city project to be built in Muscat, set for 2025 completion

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Diamond Developers, in partnership with the Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN Group), has announced the launch of The Sustainable City – Yiti in Muscat, Oman.

With an investment value of nearly $1 billion, the city will be built over an area of 1 million square metres and will be developed within the phase one of the Yiti Integrated Tourism Development Masterplan.

With sustainable innovation at its heart, the project will feature 1,657 residential units including 300 eco-friendly and energy-efficient villas in car-free districts.

The city is designed to produce 100 percent of its energy requirements from renewables which include solar panels and biogas. It will also recycle all its water and waste and use it for irrigation.

The city also aims to grow its own food through productive farm areas and greenhouses and will adopt clean mobility solutions like autonomous shuttles and electric cars, and by deploying EV charging stations.

A sustainable school that will teach important concepts of sustainability through the school curriculum while the city will also feature a number of sports facilities which include jogging and cycling tracks, an equestrian club, and a horse track.

A four-star hotel with 197 rooms, a five-star resort with 170 rooms and a range of restaurants, numerous leisure facilities, and beachfront access will also be included while the resort will also manage 132 luxury serviced apartments.

Faris Saeed, chairman of Diamond Developers, the company behind Dubai Sustainable City, said: “The Sustainable City – Yiti is not only a benchmark for sustainable urban development, it is a working model for future cities. It is a thriving community made up of thousands of residents, visitors, students, researchers, and entrepreneurs.”

He added that the project, scheduled for completion in 2025, is expected to be one of the region’s most sustainable cities and, by adopting the latest solutions in energy production, vertical farming, humidity harvesting and autonomous transportation, it aims to be net zero carbon by 2040.

Mohammed Salim Al Busaidi, chairman of OMRAN Group, said: “Our partnership with Diamond Developers is a unique milestone in our journey as we continue to invest, develop, and maximise the limitless potential of Oman’s tourism sector.

“Yiti will open avenues for numerous lucrative investment opportunities for both local and international investors in line with the directions of Oman Investment Authority.”


Former yacht club in Muscat to be redeveloped into Four Seasons resort and private residences

Leading luxury hospitality firm Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and the Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN Group), which is the executive arm of the Sultanate of Oman for tourism development, have revealed plans for the development of a Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Muscat in Oman.

The luxury development will comprise of an urban style resort in a mountain and seaside setting, as well as a collection of private residences with sweeping views of the Sea of Oman.

“The Middle East continues to be an integral part of the Four Seasons growth strategy, as we look for opportunities to offer unmatched Four Seasons experiences in exciting and dynamic destinations such as Muscat,” said Bart Carnahan, the president of Global Business Development and Portfolio Management at the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

“We are excited to be a part of OMRAN Group’s long-term vision for the future development of Oman’s tourism landscape, further accelerating the strategic growth of its capital city and continuing to attract luxury guests and residents from around the world with a brand new Four Seasons offering.”

Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Muscat in Oman will be created through the redevelopment of a former yacht club and marina into 200 rooms and suites and 100 private residences.

Guests and residents will enjoy access to a private beach, five dining outlets, and both indoor and outdoor pools with cabanas.

In addition to water sports offered at the onsite beach, the resort will provide many additional activities through its tennis centre, spa and fitness facilities, and a dedicated Kids For All Seasons area and young adults centre.

The property will also feature extensive indoor and outdoor meeting and event spaces, as well as a bride’s room, business centre, business departure lounge, and prayer rooms.

“Muscat is a destination filled with history, natural beauty, business, tourism, and so much more, and we look forward to showcasing all it has to offer through this exceptional new project with Four Seasons,” said Dr Hashil Obaid Al Mahrouqi, the CEO of the OMRAN Group.

“By bringing this iconic brand to Muscat, we continue to drive forward the Oman Vision 2040 and our National Tourism Strategy, solidifying this wonderful country as a preeminent luxury destination for locals and global travellers alike.”

Oman is located on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, along the Sea of Oman. It’s capital city of Muscat bears an idyllic landscape, marked by the backdrop of the Al Hajar Mountains with views of the Arabian Sea.

In addition to the tranquil setting, travellers to Muscat enjoy local attractions such as museums, mosques, and heritage sites.

Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Muscat, Oman joins Four Seasons growing collection of properties in the Middle East, including the upcoming Four Seasons Private Residences Dubai at Jumeirah and Four Seasons Hotel Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.


Rise in tourism, oil output to lift Saudi economy by 7% in 2022, outpacing other GCC nations


Saudi Arabia‘s economy is expected to witness a 7 percent acceleration in 2022, driven by stronger oil output following OPEC+ production cuts and continued growth in non-oil sectors, according to the latest World Bank report.

The World Bank’s Gulf Economic Update (GEU), “Achieving Climate Change Pledges,” report highlights that growth in the kingdom’s economy will also be supported by stronger consumption, increased tourism, and higher domestic capital spending.  

The projected rate of growth in Saudi Arabia outpaces the the economies of other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, which are projected to expand by 5.9 percent overall in 2022.

“As GCC countries commit to the net-zero objectives laid out in their pledges and strategies, it is important to restructure energy and water subsidies and address the GCC’s challenge of moving to a more sustainable growth model less hydrocarbon dependent and managing the transition to a global low-carbon economic environment that risk to see their oil revenues reduced in the next few decades,” Issam Abousleiman (below), the World Bank’s regional director for the GCC, said.

Economic outlook for the GCC countries: World Bank
Bahrain: Bahrain’s economy is expected to accelerate in 2022 to 3.5 percent, boosted by surging energy prices. Recovery in the non-oil economy will be driven by expansion in the transportation and communication sectors, as well as increased agriculture and fishing.

Kuwait: Economic growth in 2022 is expected to accelerate to 5.7 percent, due to higher oil output as OPEC+ cuts are phased out and domestic demand strengthens.
Oman: Growth in 2022 is projected to reach 5.6 percent, underpinned by more than 8 percent growth in the hydrocarbon sector, while the non-oil economy continues to grow by more than 2% as faster vaccine rollout strengthens domestic activity.

Qatar: Real GDP is estimated to rise in 2022 to 4.9 percent on the heels of boosted hydrocarbon exports, while growth in private consumption may be slightly lower, at 4.8%, driven by a potential dilution of World Cup proceeds and higher prices.
United Arab Emirates: Economic recovery is projected to continue in 2022, with growth anticipated to reach 4.7 percent driven by oil and non-oil sectors.
The economic recovery in the GCC is likely to continue in the medium-term, driven by the hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon sectors.

Economic rebound from the Covid pandemic
The latest issue of describes the GCC countries as rebounding robustly from the Covid-19 pandemic in the course of 2021 and at the beginning of 2022.

The report attributes the rebound to a broadly successful vaccination rollout across the GCC, the easing of pandemic restrictions, and developments in the hydrocarbon market.

As a result, fiscal deficits have markedly improved, with the GCC external balance reaching pre-pandemic levels in 2021 as energy prices and export earnings strengthened.

As major hydrocarbon exporters, GCC countries may also benefit from changes in the energy markets brought about by the war in Ukraine.

These countries may see strong fiscal and external surpluses, which could help spur consumer confidence and investments.

However, the war has also placed energy security at the top of the agenda of many major oil importers, thereby accelerating their plans for a transition to green growth.

The GEU contains a special chapter focusing on critical steps that need to be taken towards energy subsidies, fiscal consolidation, and the importance of getting prices right to bring about an environment that places the private sector at the forefront of green growth, according to the World Bank report.

The special chapter of the GEU discusses opportunities to restructure energy subsidies in the region, as well as opportunities that exist for the GCC countries to become renewable energy powerhouses by diversifying into green technologies.

This transition to an environment-friendly model will be a recurrent theme in future issues of the Gulf Economic Update, making this the first in a series that will focus on green growth in the region.


Petrofac, Oman Hydrogen to collaborate to strengthen renewable energy sector

Petrofac, a leading provider of services to the global energy industry, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Oman Hydrogen Centre (OHC) to collaborate in building capabilities for Oman’s renewable energy sector, the company announced on Wednesday.

The agreement aims to strengthen the sector, particularly in green hydrogen.

The partnership “will bring considerable benefits to the efficient implementation of green hydrogen projects and help accelerate the Sultanate’s energy transition,” the statement said.

Oman reveals plan to become global hydrogen player

Additionally, the collaboration will help in the development of Omani talent.

Petrofac recently completed front-end engineering design (FEED), for green hydrogen production facilities followed by studies for small-scale industrial globally.

The building company will provide technical expertise, design experience, project management and execution, and building capacity through knowledge transfer, the statement said.

“Green hydrogen provides an opportunity to help accelerate the energy transition in Oman through the decarbonisation of many parts of our industries,” Petrofac Oman’s country manager Dr Khalid Al Jahwari said.

Al Jahwari said the partnership with OHC “is designed to meet the needs of new complex energy assets,” adding it will focus on engineering excellence and a skilled workforce.

“With our combined knowledge, experience and capabilities, we are here to support this transition,” he said.

In June this year, the Sultanate’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals was in the process of appointing a think tank to promote Oman as a hub for production and export of green hydrogen.

Oman aims to be at the forefront of green hydrogen production, especially as key resources such as solar and wind energy and adequate lands will play a pivotal role in achieving this target.

The government also aims to attract foreign direct investments in the green hydrogen sector, as “there is a good demand for investments,” according to Ministry of Energy and Minerals’ director-general of renewable energy and hydrogen, Abdulaziz Said Al Shedhani.

“Remarkable efforts from governmental units, industries, and scientists take place towards accelerating the energy transition and green economy,” Oman Hydrogen Centre’s director Dr. Sausan Al Riyami said, adding “this will enable the building of our Omani talents in energy sector.”


Oman to ban import of plastic bags from 2023

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The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment promotion has issued a ministerial decision that bans imports of plastic bags with effect from January 2023. The decision comes in line with the ministry’s plan to regulate market activities pertaining to the import of products that damage the environment, according to Sami Salim Al Sahib, Director General of the Industry, as reported by Oman News Agency (ONA).

The decision, issued in coordination with the Environment Authority, will support Omani factories by limiting unfair competition from imported products that do not meet environment standards, he explained.

“Eliminating plastic bags is one of the challenges that the ministry seeks to overcome in cooperation with the concerned authorities and find specifications for manufacturers and suppliers to ensure the correct transition to alternatives to plastic bags that harm the environment,” said Sahib, as reported by local news.

An administrative fine of OMR1,000 will be imposed on anyone importing plastic bags, the fine will be doubled if the violation is repeated.

In cooperation with the Environment Authority, the ministry seeks to shift to environment-friendly industries, however, it was noted that the decision will not affect local plastic production facilities. The decision intends to help local plastic production factories to augment sales and production to meet local market demands.

To ensure a proper shift to plastic alternatives, as well as, raise social awareness about the negative impacts of plastic, the ministry will be working in cooperation with concerned departments to develop specifications and instructions. The decision is set to come into effect by January 1, 2023.


UAE, Oman hold first directors meeting for $3bn railway between Abu Dhabi, Muscat

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The Board of Directors of Oman Rail-Etihad Rail joint venture company, held its inaugural meeting in Dubai, two days after signing an agreement to form the $3 billion railway company. The passenger trains are designed to reduce travel time from Sohar to Abu Dhabi to 1 hour 40 minutes, and from Sohar to Al Ain to 47 minutes.

During the meeting, the board of directors discussed the implementation plans including technical studies, architectural design, environmental studies for routes, the business model and the commercial affairs of the joint venture.

A strong emphasis was placed on the importance of fast tracking the execution of the project.

In discussion was also the commitment to the highest standards for security, safety and sustainability.

The passenger trains will travel up to 200 kilometres per hour, according to the report, and will connect Abu Dhabi with Sohar to the north of Muscat.

The network will be a contributing factor to the growth of national economies of Oman and the UAE, it will also improve the efficiency of supply chains whilst facilitating cross-border trade by linking commercial ports to the railway network.

“The joint railway network will advance the land transport system between the two countries in line with the best-in-class criteria and standards, providing safe, reliable, and sustainable transportation, which in turn, will further facilitate connectivity between industrial and commercial centres, and cement the longstanding social cohesion between the two countries,” said Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faris Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure.

The Board of Directors also appointed Eng. Ahmed Al Hashemi as CEO of the company, and Eng. Mohammed bin Zahran Al Mahruqi as Deputy CEO.

“Through this partnership and the logistics progress it will bring about, various economic and trade activities will reap several benefits, creating new opportunities and providing high-quality transport solutions that will contribute to establishing a connection between Sohar and the Omani free zone, with vital economic and industrial zones in the UAE,” said Saeed bin Hamoud bin Saeed Al Maawali, Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology in Oman.