MUSCAT, OCT 26 – Khazaen Economic City – the Sultanate’s first integrated city based on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model – plans to offer attractive commercial terms to persuade manufacturing units and workshops operating in rapidly urbanising industrial areas of Muscat Governorate to relocate to its new hub near Barka. According to Khalid al Balushi (pictured), CEO, interest in a possible relocation is growing from industrial units based in the capital region – aided in part by the government’s desire to see most such activities move to designated and suitably equipped hubs located outside the city.
“We aim to provide incentives to these (units) to encourage them to move out based on attractive commercial terms, availability of ample land, and long-term leases of up to 99 years once the Royal Decree is issued,” said Al Balushi. Oman’s authorities have long advocated for the relocation of the automotive garages, fabrication workshops and other assorted industrial units operating in areas, notably Ghala, to suitably designed industrial parks or such other hubs set up outside of the capital city. Their transfer would not open up potentially prime real estate for residential and commercial development, but also enable the refurbishment of rundown neighbourhoods that are not in keeping with Muscat’s otherwise modern ambience.
Speaking at a key forum held in the city last week, the CEO said the Economic City is garnering growing investor interest. “On the commercial side, we are seeing huge potential from potential international and local investors,” said Al Balushi. “So far, we have signed agreements for approximately 2 million sq metres of land to be leased out for investment. We are hoping to close a certain number of additional deals within next few months. We are also waiting for some incentives to be provided by the government that will add value to our product.” Covering a 52 million sq metre area just off the Batinah Expressway, Khazaen will seek to leverage its proximity to Muscat to attract investors who see the populous suburbs of Muscat, notably Al Khoudh, Maabelah and so on, as target markets for their products and services.
Likewise, Khazaen’s strategic location also makes it advantageous for investors eyeing markets in North and South Al Batinah, and Al Dakhiliyah Governorates, as well as promising markets further afield in neighbouring UAE and Saudi Arabia. Khazaen Economic City – part of Asyad Group (the logistics flagship of the Sultanate) – is envisaged as a multifaceted city, said the CEO. “As an integrated city, it will serve as a hub for logistics and industry, but also include commercial and retail components, as well as – in later phases – residential and free zone components. We are seeking investors and interested parties who can work and live and enjoy their time in a (full-fledged) city.”
“Although driven primarily by the private sector, its long-term commercial viability will be underpinned by a number of anchor components supported by the government in line with its national agenda,” said Al Balushi. One such anchor project, he said, is the Dry Port – a first of its kind initiative that will be operated by Marafi, a subsidiary of Asyad. Another initiative is the Central Fruit and Vegetable Market, he noted.
“Distinguishing Khazaen from other industrial and economic parks around the country is its strategy of offering structured opportunities for investment,” said the CEO. “Moving away from the landlord model, we are working to present investors with products that are ready-made for investment, which facilitates the expeditious execution of projects. This approach is missing from other economic or free zone initiatives, where the (landlord) simply leases the land (based on the investors’ requirements).”