Private firm to manage Nizwa Fort

By Fahad Al Ghadani — MUSCAT: April 17 – The Ministry of Tourism has begun handing over management and maintenance of the nation’s historical forts and castles to the private sector —one of several initiatives outlined under Tanfeedh (the National Programme for Enhancing Economic Diversification) to encourage private investment in the tourism industry. Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism, made the landmark announcement in an interview aired on Oman TV on Monday. He named the magnificent Nizwa Fort as the first national monument that will be placed in private hands as part of the Tanfeedh initiative.
“This represents a promising chance for the private sector to support the ministry in the management, marketing and maintenance of Oman’s forts and castles,” Al Mehrzi said. “We hope the private operator will recreate some of the characteristics of life that prevailed within their walls in times bygone.” The minister made the comments during a visit to the Wilayat of Bidbid on Sunday. First to be placed in private hands will be the splendid Nizwa Fort, said Al Mehrzi, stressing that a number of other forts and castles have been lined up for similar action going forward.
Likewise, the ministry is in the process of establishing a joint stock company that will take over similar management of Bidbid Castle, Al Mehrzi said. The idea of a partnership stems from a proposal submitted by a local resident of Bidbid, he stated. Also in the pipeline is a Single Window System for the processing of applications for various permits and licenses. “This initiative is also proposed as part of the Tanfeedh Programme and we are close to receiving the all-clear from the various authorities and stakeholders who are involved in licensing procedures.”
The tour of the Wilayat of Bidbid was in line with efforts to support investment in the tourism sector.
Last week, Al Mehrzi had said that the ministry has received applications for investments in the Sultanate’s nature and wildlife reserves including one offer by a Kuwait investor to develop the Al Saleel Wildlife Reserve in the Wilayat of Al Kamil W’al Wafi in South Al Sharqiyah Governorate.