Winds of change blow in Duqm

Muscat, Nov 25 – While the permanent resident population can still be termed “handful” in Duqm, numbers seem to be increasing in the city in the last few years. New apartments and shops have come up, roads have been marked and signals installed at traffic intersections with proper signboards.
The road connectivity in the free zone area is better organised now. The launch of Mwasalat’s Duqm-Muscat route has also been well-received by the permanent employees. “We have to visit Duqm occasionally for medical and shopping purposes that are still inadequate here. But new bus services are efficient and convenient,” Abdul Rahim, an employee of a facilities management company, says.
An official of a leading hotel in Duqm told the Observer the property has been consistently seeing 50 per cent occupancy this year.
“At our property, the occupancy level has been 50 per cent for some time now. There has been an increase in the number of new visitors as new projects have started coming up.”
Officials at the other accommodation facilities in Duqm are also reporting 40 per cent occupancy on average this year.
More people have been travelling to the project sites in Duqm from their company headquarters in Muscat.
“There has been an increase in the number of vehicles coming to our fuel stations on the way to Duqm. I do not have figures but the increase is above 50 per cent in the last two years,” said Salil, an employee at a fuel station, 30 km from Sinaw, a busy township en route to Duqm.
The newly-opened Renaissance Accommodation Village is hoping for a 50-per cent occupancy next year. Development works on the Duqm Refinery, Duqm Port and Raz Makaz storage projects are expected to bring in more short-term and long-term visitors to the Sultanate.
Stephen Thomas, CEO, Renaissance, said, “In the current economic situation, projects are taking more time than expected, but the fact is they are coming up. Our project is part of the long-term sustainable development plan of the government.”
Yahya bin Khamis al Zadjali, Engineering Projects Planning and Follow-up Official of Chairman of SEZAD, said, “The authority is keen to promote projects that are environment-friendly. It makes sense to encourage permanent accommodation facilities than allowing porta cabins and camps all over the place, which require regular monitoring from the authorities.”
He said the infrastructure facilities at Duqm Port will be completed by the end of 2019 while the works at the passenger terminal and cargo building at Duqm Commercial Airport are under way. They are expected to be completed early 2018.
Oman Air too has increased its flight frequency from Muscat to Duqm in response to the growing demand. The number of flights have increased in the winter schedule, said a statement.
Oman Air now operates six flights a week on its 737-800 aircraft, instead of the five it was operating in summer.

Vinod Nair