Omran sets up investment unit for $1.3bn waterfront project

Oman Tourism Development Company, also known as Omran, has set up a dedicated investor relations taskforce to seek private sector investors for the $1.3 billion Mina Sultan Qaboos waterfront project in Muscat.

The tourism firm said in a statement that the unit is already in "advanced stages of negotiations" with a number of private sector entities, state related entities and investment funds, and have have reported high levels of interest from Omani and international investors.

Omran said it is set to establish a new company to develop the project, with 51 percent owned by Omran, and the remaining 49 percent taken up by pension and investment funds, together with private sector investors.

Omran added that it has also received expressions of interest from leading global hotel operators to manage one of the seven waterfront hotels, including The Address (Emaar), Mandarin Oriental hotel Group, Hyatt, Viceroy Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, Banyan Tree Luxury Hotels and Resorts, Chedi and Four Seasons.

Salah Al Ghazali, chief investment officer at Omran, said: “In this era of low interest rates, and low returns on more traditional investments, investors are looking for new markets and avenues to provide healthy and secure sustainable and recurring returns.

"Following the recent announcement of the project, we’ve been very heartened by the strong expressions of interest shown by prominent local investors.”

He added: “This really is a project of national significance, and will be considered as one of the prime visitor destinations in the region when Phase One opens by 2020 ahead of World Expo in Dubai in 2020.”

The waterfront destination will be developed over four phases, with construction of Phase One beginning in mid 2016 and completion set for 2020.

Phase One will include Matrah fisherman’s wharf, a fish souq, a five-star marina hotel with a yacht club and marina, a four-star family hotel, hotel-operated residential apartments, starter apartments for first time home buyers with extensive parking and park and ride locations.

Phase One will also an SME incubator, arts, crafts and organic farmers market, boutique and destination shopping, restaurants and cafes, a marine heritage visitor centre and a children's entertainment village.

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