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Fri 23 Jul 2010 02:34 PM

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Oman to build $1.5bn bridge to turtle island

Tender process to be open to international bidders and start early next year.

Oman to build $1.5bn bridge to turtle island
OMAN TOURISM: Oil-rich Oman attracts about a million tourists a year, 60 percent of whom come from other Gulf states.(Getty Images)

Oman plans to build a $1.5bn bridge to an island turtle habitat off the Gulf Arab state's east coast to boost tourist numbers, a finance ministry official said on Thursday.

The tender process will be open to international bidders and start early next year for the construction of the bridge, said the official, who declined to be identified.

"The bridge will lure tourists to Masirah Island to (see) rare species of turtles like the loggerheads and greenbacks," a finance ministry official told Reuters.

Masirah Island is home to both species. Other turtles which nest there are the hawksbill and the Oliver Ridley.

When finished, the bridge will be about 40 km long and would be among the longest sea bridges in the world.

Oil-rich Oman attracts about a million tourists a year, 60 percent of whom come from other Gulf states. Earlier this year Omani company Ominvest said it was planning to build a $1 billion tourism resort in the southern port city of Salalah.

"We expect more revenues than predicted this year, though we can't say what percentage, due to higher oil prices than forecast for the 2010 budget. That way, we can squeeze in a project or two," the official from the finance ministry said.

In December, construction of the world's longest sea bridge linking Hong Kong to China and Macau began in a bid to bolster integration and growth of the Pearl River Delta, China's stricken economic powerhouse. (Reuters)

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Omar Shamma 10 years ago

God help the turtles with all the tourists invading their beaches. If Oman will spend $1.5 billion on a bridge I can only logically assume that to recover this investment would require thousands of tourists to use it every day paying a not so insignificant amount to do so. It then follows that these thousands of tourists will drive over the bridge, many in huge 4X4s and will be all over the turtle beaches. Result...lots of money spent and no more turtles. I would have thought that Oman would take a more reasoned and pragmatic approach to eco-tourism, with limited boat excursions to view the turtles. To limit the numbers in protection of the turtles and at the same time maximise revenues the fees charged can be high. This approach of bridge building however is not eco-tourism but eco-exploitation that will result in the destruction of the turtle habitat.

James 10 years ago

How eco-unfriendly an idea is this?! Poor turtles! And what a stupid waste of public money. Oman has been doing so many good things in its tourism sector but this idea is crazy. The Ministry of Tourism could fly everyone to Turtle Island by helicopter free of charge and still spend less than the interest earned on this $1.5bn sitting in the bank!

Ali Saleh 10 years ago

Here we go again with a Grandiose half backed plan. Ecotourism and building a bridge should not be used in the same sentence.

Shameless Deville 10 years ago

I presume that Oman must have picked up the same smart people who decided to build Palms, Islands & Worlds in the sea in Dubai. Haven't they learnt by these silly hairbained white elephants ? Anyway who in their right mind would fund such a program never mind fund it ! Total lunacy - I hope it will never get built !!

aeroskunk 10 years ago

Creating such access only means bye bye turtles. However, as a resident i (hopefully) foresee that this idea will/ should get tossed in the name of turtles and sustainable future eco tourism. No turtles no tourism= 1.5 bn bridge a futile expense.

hombil 10 years ago

Cannot believe that eco friendly Oman has decided to construct a bridge across to Masirah Island. Rather than construct a bridge, Oman govt can improve the existing ferry service and lodging/boarding facilities at both ends.

Mira 10 years ago

The unsightly concrete bridge over the once scenic Wadi Shab comes to mind.