Al Hafa set to get tourism boost

Salalah, Nov 26 – The speculation over the development of Al Hafa area seems to have ended with the signing of usufruct agreement to develop the area according to the master plan of the project and the agreed execution schedule. A company with high credentials has been entrusted the task of developing the usufruct area, which is spread over several hectares, touching the Al Husn Palace in the west and the Al Baleed Archaeological Park and the Museum of the Land of Frankincense in the east.

The project is being monitored by the Adviser’s Office of the Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar.
According to Taiq bin Amer al Kathiri, Project Expert and Director of Hafa Development Project, the implementing company, Muscat National Development and Investment Company (ASAAS), has a vast experience in doing big projects, and the work is sure to speed up in the coming months.
He called the project very important in terms of tourism and overall development of Salalah.
“As per plan, the development would be done in two stages. Things have almost been streamlined for the first stage in which there would be a traditional village, one water park and a vast public area giving a feeling of our tradition and heritage.”
“We have been seeking suggestions and trying to be super sensitive due to the importance of this area. If you go by the words of our grandfathers, they would tell you that the very heart of Salalah lived in this area due to various reasons… It was their point of recreation, shopping and meeting for daily tea and kahwa (Omani coffee).
Keeping in mind people’s emotional association with this area, there is a plan to develop the area in the first phase, as something which keeps the past alive with modern amenities. The whole set up would be like depiction of stories from the past,” said Al Kathiri.
He also hinted at setting up of some museum in the first phase of the project’s development.
Under the current scheme of things there is a plan to develop a small traditional resort in the first phase. Prominent among all these developments would be the waterfront with the provisions of cafes and other recreational facilities.
Al Kathiri did not say much about the second phase of Al Hafa development and said there would be full focus on completing the first phase. He, however, admitted that land area for the second phase has already been earmarked. Al Hafa holds immense importance among the older generations. They slip easily into nostalgia of the time and start telling the stories of bringing their families every weekend for shopping or chitchatting with friends for
hours.
“I do not remember a day when I did not come to Al Hafa when I am in Salalah. I do not feel complete without coming here. I am happy to come here along with my friends and if they are busy somewhere I would come alone. My sons and grandsons know this addiction of mine and would readily tell me to bring certain things from the market. Till today I am in the habit of buying something daily from the Al Hafa Souk,” said Al Quof resident Khadim.
He endorsed the development of the area as necessary for the city which has started attracting expatriates and tourists from many parts of the world. “I am happy to hear about the development of heritage village and other recreational facilities,” he said.

Kaushalendra Singh