MUSCAT, APRIL 29 – The Ministry of Transport and Communications says it is hopeful of clinching a deal with a partnership of Omani and international investors in the development of Khasab and Shinas ports located in the north of the Sultanate. Talks are under way with a partnership of Omani private sector firms and investors from the Far East that have evinced interest in harnessing the economic and investment potential of Khasab Port in Musandam Governorate and Shinas Port in North Al Batinah Governorate, according to Said bin Hamdoon al Harthy, Under-Secretary for Ports and Maritime Affairs — Ministry of Transport and Communications.
“With regard to Khasab and Shinas ports, we are in discussion with private investors based in Oman. We hope to reach agreement with the parties soon,” Al Harthy said while participating in a panel discussion organised as part of the Oman Economic Forum held at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre yesterday. Moderated by Fatma al Araimi, Co-founder & MD — The Media Centre (WAF), the panel also included Col Khalifa al Siyabi, Director-General of Customs — ROP, Jamal Aziz, Chief Executive Officer — Sohar Freezone, and Ahmed Akaak, Deputy CEO — Salalah Port.
The mandate to develop the two ports will be awarded to the same investment firm, the Under-Secretary said, adding: “We hope to see a deal soon.” Last October, the Ministry revealed that it had invited proposals from local and international investors to help support the development and modernisation of the two ports. Khasab Port, in particular, is a major draw for cruise liners, having attracted as many as 66 passenger ships in 2016 carrying over 35,500 tourists. The port is tipped to be transformed into a waterfront and leisure destination replicating the ambitious plan that Omran — the government’s tourism investment and development arm — envisions for Port Sultan Qaboos in Muscat.
Shinas, on the other hand, has a jetty that primarily caters to fishing boats and dhows. Plans for the development of the facility include potential investments in tourism, leisure and commercial components. The two-conference officially began here yesterday under the auspices of Sultan Salim al Habsi, Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank of Oman (CBO). A number of high-ranking government officials, as well as private sector decision-makers and executives, attending the opening session. Al Iktissad Events are organisers of the biannual economic forum.