Oman plans Airport Cities in Muscat, Suhar and Salalah

Airport Cities housing free zones, as well as clusters for commerce, hospitality, logistics and aviation, are planned at the Sultanate’s three main airports in Muscat, Suhar and Salalah, according to a report published in Arabian Aerospace, an online news service covering aviation, defence and space developments in the Middle East and North Africa.
The online site featured an interview with Mustafa bin Mohammed al Hinai (pictured), CEO — Oman Aviation Group (OAG) in which he outlines OAG’s vision to support Oman’s economic development. Wholly government-owned OAG, which group Oman Air, Oman Airports and Oman Aviation Services, is overseeing the growth of a strong aviation industry in the Sultanate.
The proposed Airport Cities, said Al Hinai, will provide the ecosystem necessary for the various constituent elements, as well as the wider supply chain, to operate in synergistic fashion while being integrated with an airport.
“However, you cannot make your city or airport just logistics and industry,” Arabian Aerospace quoted the CEO as explaining. “You require an ecosystem, which has to include offices, a hospitality component and retail outlets, so that those who work in the Airport Cities can live in the Airport Cities. It is our mandate to integrate all these different components’’.
Thus each Airport City will feature five gates — the commerce gate, hospitality gate, logistics gate, free zone and aviation gate — lending it the characteristics and trappings of an integrated urban development, he noted.
Also envisaged are free zones to serve as hubs for processing (fish and farm products), light manufacturing, assembly, labelling and packing, among other investments, said Al Hinai. “We found that when these companies come to the country, they don’t want to pay customs two times. They want to be incentivised and they want incentives that will keep them sustainable in our market. So, the second decision was to create free zones around our airports, with the free zones and the logistics complementing each other’’.
The online magazine also quoted the official as saying that the old Seeb International Airport terminal would be developed into a hub for aviation related education and entertainment.
“We will set up a very specialised gate for aviation; within this gate, we will have an aviation edutainment centre, and an innovation centre for everything aviation-related. We have three institutes, one under Oman Air, one under the civil aviation authority and one under Oman Airports. We will consolidate all three together and have the first aviation school in Oman, which will cover anything related to ground services, the airports, the airline and to the in-flight services, but not to flying, which will still be handled by the Omani Aviation Academy in Sohar Airport’’.