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Muscat, a city for the people

Article - November 15, 2012
Nestled between water and mountains, Muscat enjoys a magical setting where quality of life is on the rise
Recently cited as a must see destination in National Geographic and the Lonely Planet and named Arab Tourism Capital in 2012, Muscat is the rapidly up-and-coming capital city of Oman.

Located in the north-east of the country between the Gulf of Oman and the Al Hajar mountain range, it enjoys a magical setting. A port and trading post since the early first century, it has fine historic architecture and a rich multicultural history which has assimilated influences from Persia to Portugal.

With plenty of sunshine throughout the year and access to kilometres of unspoilt beaches, Muscat has become the destination of choice for those seeking upscale properties, interesting cultural heritage and relaxation.

Now an ambitious development programme led by Eng. Sultan Hamdoon Al Harthy, Chairman of Muscat Municipality, along with a strategic plan from Oman’s Tourism Ministry led by Ahmed Al Mahrizi, promises to unleash Muscat’s huge potential.

Muscat Municipality’s urban strategy aims to balance its heritage and natural beauty with urban regeneration. The programme called “Muscat – A City for People,” comprises many projects – development of road networks, contemporary public markets, parks, hotels, parking areas, a smart city fibre-optic project; and a dedicated municipality contact centre.

Key construction and tourism developments include the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre to be completed in 2016, comprising 3,000 seats and four hotels totalling 1,000 rooms and the new Muscat International Airport and the National Museum, which are also under construction.
Inaugurated in October 2011, the stunningly beautiful Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) is the first opera house of its scale in the entire GCC region. Opera is a rather foreign concept in the Middle East and the ROHM has harmoniously introduced this tradition as a way to unite the West and the Arabic world. Brett Egan, interim CEO of ROHM, said: “Ideally this will promote the establishment and convergence of Arab and Western cultures in other places throughout the world. This is essentially a Western paradigm that has been interpreted through an Arabic lens.”

Muscat is also benefiting from Oman’s investment in transport with national carrier Oman Air now reaching over 40 international destinations.

Eng. Sultan Al Harthy, who has recently been nominated for the “2012 World Mayor Prize” said: “Oman is an exceptional place with a rich cultural and historical heritage and humanism at the core of its development policies and approach to life. Oman has a huge potential – a transparent and open society with a great future ahead.”

Sultan Al Harthy believes there are plenty of opportunities for investors in Muscat: “These include integrated tourism complexes, high-end business districts; regeneration of older areas of the city; and the transformation of Sultan Qaboos Port into a tourist zone.”