The government of Oman has drawn up plans to build a metro network that would connect Muscat with its international airport.
The metro, Oman’s first rail system, would link the airport with the commercial hub of Ruwi, the administrative center of Muttrah, and the coastal town of Seeb, 20km northwest of Muscat, International Railway Journal reports.
The project would be part of Oman’s Urban Revitalization and Regeneration Projects (URRP), which sets a framework for economic development over the next 20 years, as well as the Oman National Spatial Strategy (ONSS), the national planning strategy.
The aim is to use the metro to spur more commercial and residential development around its stations. Plans have also been put forward to convert Muscat’s numerous wadis – desert canyons – into parks.
There are also plans for the country’s first passenger rail service, which would connect Seeb with the port city of Sohar, about 120km northwest of Muscat.
This would be part of Oman’s National Railway Project, which envisages a 2,100km system linking it with the UAE in the north and Yemen in the south.
The establishment of Greater Muscat is based on a diversified economic base. It will absorb Barka, and revolves around a finance, knowledge, and innovation-based economy, including logistics and tourism sectors.
“The city emerges as a pioneer at the level of the Gulf Cooperation Council due to its natural characteristics attracting people to live, work and recreate altogether,” says an ONSS report.
The significant economic and population growth in these cities will require expansion of their urban containment boundary, leading to the emergence of Greater Cities concept, represented in Greater Muscat, Greater Salalah, Greater Suhar, and Greater Nizwa.
With a strong focus on diversification, industrialization, and privatization, investors will benefit from Oman’s advanced infrastructure and unique location.
Millions of visitors each year visit the Sultanate’s natural beauty, with its 3,000km of coastline, mountain ranges, wadis, and striking desert landscapes.
Oman’s seven urban strategies
There are seven strategies to plan Oman’s cities, aimed at building better communities and designing a sustainable country.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning identified the creation of flexible and liveable cities and communities, the preservation of Omani identity, climate change response and mitigation, achieving food security and efficient water resource management, finding alternative and sustainable means of transportation, and economic diversification and growth in each governorate.
The strategy is based on the assumption that Oman’s population will reach between 7.1 and 7.5 million people by 2040, alongside a GDP growth of 3-5%.
This increased GDP will be achieved through economic zones. Five free zones in the country will improve the country’s competitiveness, attract foreign direct investment, increase the efficiency of the business environment, improve economic performance, increase the contribution of GDP to 10%, and expand the presence of skilled workers in the private sector.
A major part of a sustainable, circular economy involves efforts to reduce material and energy waste through their reuse and recycling, instead of dumping. This shall reduce waste, gas emissions and raw material depletion by 70%, contribute to the creation of economic and investment opportunities, focus on renewables as a main source of energy, through projects that will contribute to 62% of the required amount of clean energy.
An important component of the Urban Strategy is to preserve Oman’s natural and cultural heritage and make sure the country’s diverse flora and fauna are conserved for future generations.