By Sarah Townsend
First phase of Mina Sultan Qaboos Waterfront scheme comprises one five-star and one four-star hotel, as well as other leisure attractions
Emaar’s The Address hotels, as well as the Mandarin Oriental, Hyatt, Viceroy and Hilton, are reportedly among global hospitality brands pitching to manage one of the seven hotels planned for a new waterfront scheme in Oman.
The Mina Sultan Qaboos Waterfront Project is an OR500 million ($1.2 billion) mixed-use redevelopment of 101 hectares of land at Sultan Qaboos Port.
The scheme is to be developed over four phases, with construction of the first phase beginning in mid-2016 and completion expected in 2020.
Phase one comprises a number of entertainment and lifestyle attractions intended to boost waterfront tourism. Attractions will include a crafts and organic farmers market, visitor’s centre, boutique shopping centre, restaurants and cafes, a marine heritage museum, aquarium and children’s entertainment village.
There will also be a fish souq, five-star hotel with marina and yacht club, a four-star family hotel, hotel apartments and ‘affordable’ apartments for first-time buyers, as well as an incubator for small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
According to a report in Times of Oman, a clutch of high profile global hotel brands have expressed an interest in developing one of the hotels.
They include Emaar The Address, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Hyatt, Viceroy Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, Banyan Tree Luxury Hotels and Resorts, Chedi and Four Seasons.
Salah Al Ghazali, chief investment officer at Oman’s tourism body Omran, was quoted as saying: “Following the recent announcement of the project, we’ve been very heartened by the strong expressions of interest shown by prominent local investors.
“By taking a position in the waterfront development, investors clearly understand the attractive and enduring returns on offer with this state backed project.
“Our priority is to offer opportunities to local investors, followed by the regional and international investment community.”
Omran intends to establish a dedicated investor relations taskforce to field additional interest from private sector investors and is also set up a company to develop the project.
Just over half (51 percent) of this new company is to be owned by Omran, the newspaper said, and the remaining 49 percent by pension and investment funds and private investors.
Said Al Ghazali: “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.”