Oman’s first outdoor training facility opens at Sharqiya Sands

MUSCAT: Oman’s first purpose-built outdoor training centre was formally opened in the Sharqiya Sands on Wednesday under the auspices of His Highness Sayyid Haitham Al Said, Minister of Heritage and Culture. The desert centre, operated by Outward Bound Oman (OBO), is the first of the three centres slated to be opened in the coming two years, with the construction of the second, in Muscat, due to start later this month.

Present on the occasion were His Highness Sayyid Faisal Bin Turki Al Said, Patron of OBO, Shaikh Mohammed bin Said bin Saif al Kalbani, Minister of Social Development, and Hamish Cowell, British Ambassador to Oman, guests and others. Located about 12 kilometers into the Sharqiya Sands, the centre is unique with self-sustainability in every aspect including solar panels to generate energy and a bio-digester to treat waste water on site.

“Today is a significant milestone in the growth of Outward Bound in Oman; the issue of preparing Omani young people for society, and for the workplace of today, and tomorrow, is one of national importance”, said HH Faisal.

Established in Oman in May 2009 by founding partners Dentons, Shell and Suhail Bahwan, OBO is part of an international network that uses challenging outdoor journeys to develop people’s capacity. Each year some 200,000 people around the world take part in an Outward Bound course in one of 32 countries.

“The emergence of these training centres will allow Outward Bound Oman to play a leading role in nurturing the character and attitude of the next generation in the coming years”, added HH Faisal.

Designed by innovative Muscat-based architects 23 Degrees North, the by the iconic centre makes substantial use of solar energy, treats and re-uses all water on site, and has already been nominated for and, received several design awards.

Located within the centre are equipment stores, two indoor training rooms, sleeping accommodation for 60 people, four learning pods, a majlis, prayer rooms and a lecture theatre.

In addition to working with young people in schools and colleges throughout the Sultanate, OBO also provides bespoke training courses for the emerging talent and leadership teams of leading companies and institutions in Oman with the aim of making Oman the global hub for arid environment research.

The Sharqiya desert has been at the heart of the scientific research community since a three-year expedition in the mid-1980’s, undertaken by the Royal Geographical Society in London.

The expedition documented the diversity of the terrain, and the fauna, noting nearly 16,000 species of invertebrates, as well as 200 species of other wildlife. They also documented 150 species of native flora.

Apart from developing talents within the private sector, the centre will be heavily used by groups of young Omanis developing key skillsets, behaviours and toolkits to enable them to successfully enter the world of work.