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Updated master-plan unveiled for future Duqm


MUSCAT, OCT 28 - A revised master-plan for the future City of Duqm envisions a model, sustainable mixed-use residential and commercial development underpinned by ‘smart city’ design and engineering concepts that will complement the industrial hub’s vision to evolve into a world-leading Special Economic Zone, a key official said. Anwar Kahlan al Battashi, Manager — Urban Planning, Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm (SEZAD), said the City’s master-plan has been overhauled to reflect the dramatically altered market and economic situation in the intervening period since the future city was originally planned in 2014 just before the onset of the global oil price downturn.

Speaking at the 2017 Dossier Construction Infrastructure Awards & Summit, organised by UMS Events last week, Al Battashi said: “The vision is to establish a city that will accommodate around 250,000 residents, with suitable amenities for international business and tourism, by providing strategic frameworks and guidelines for a sustainable and remarkable city as a place to live, work and play.”

The Oman branch of the well-known multinational design consultancy firm WS Atkins is undertaking the detailed master-plan, market and feasibility study, and design of Phase 1 of the Duqm City development. While Atkins, as Lead Consultant, will work in coordination with the urban planning and engineering department of SEZAD, it will also be assisted by a number of sub-consultants, notably Deloitte, Five Oceans Environmental Services, Kamel Establishment, Driver Consult and Design Urban.

In creating a revised master-plan for the 150 sq km development, the designers will be guided by a number of ‘sustainability’ principles, said Al Battashi. Besides designing a compact urban city development, featuring mixed use districts and neighbourhood, the master-plan will also seek to promote social inclusion and diversity. Attractive and affordable housing will be a feature as well.

Additionally, Duqm City’s infrastructure will be conceptualised around ‘smart city’ principles. Public transport will be designed to disincentivise the use of private cars, while renewable energy will be a predominant source of energy for residents. Wadis will be converted into landscaped green spaces while health and well-being will be strongly championed. Energy rationalisation and waste recycling will result in a lower carbon footprint for the entire development.

In seeking to deliver a sustainable city, SEZAD and its consultants are undertaking a detailed market study, alongside the development of a tourism strategy and governance guidelines, said Al Battashi.

“We have talked to all of the stakeholders and investors to understand their manpower requirements. Using certain multiplier factors, we have tried to understand what the population will be in the future. By studying these projections and the demographics of the people going to live in Duqm, we can understand the extent of land use — whether residential, commercial, and so forth — and what types of amenities will be required.”

“From there, we will develop a thorough land-use plan with all of the pathways for roads, landscaping, and so forth. This exercise will be completed within a year,” the Urban Planning Manager said.

The City will draw its character from the topographical, ecological, geological and hydrological features of the Duqm landscape. Planning elements will include ample landscaping, tree nurseries, and so on, to encourage residents to consider walking short distances instead of using their fossil fuel burning private vehicles. Accentuating the appeal of the future City will be key attractions in the form of, among other features, a coastal boardwalk, highland park, different types of district parks, and a nursery at the Rock Garden district.

Conrad Prabhu

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