Muscat: At least 800 direct jobs are expected to be created by the first Integrated Tourism Complex (ITC) to launch in seven years in the Sultanate of Oman, according to Sheikh Hamood bin Sultan Al Hosni, CEO of Saraya Bandar Jissah.
Al Hosni made the remarks during the ground-breaking ceremony for the second major construction stage of the project, which was hosted by Saraya Bandar Jissah on Wednesday.
The function took place on site under the auspices of His Highness Sayyid Asa'ad bin Tariq Al Said, Representative of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, in the presence of dignitaries, including members of the Omani royal family, ministers, undersecretaries and business leaders.
Located on the outskirts of Muscat on a unique secluded beach surrounded by the Al Hajar Mountains, Saraya Bandar Jissah is a partnership between the government of Oman's tourism development and investment arm – Omran – and Saraya Oman.
Promoted as 'Oman's newest luxury address', the $600 million project is taking shape on site.
With a focus on delivering Oman's most luxurious development, the project will provide two five star hotels with 318 rooms, including a beachfront ballroom for weddings and events, international cuisine restaurants and sports activities, including a dive centre.
The five star hotels will be operated by internationally renowned luxury hotels and resorts operator Jumeirah Group. Saraya Bandar Jissah, will also be home to 398 exclusive residential units, including spacious hilltop villas, stylish townhouses and luxury apartments.
Addressing the ground-breaking ceremony, Al Hosni said, "The long-term benefits are not only to increase tourism but also the job opportunities the development will create. More than 800 direct jobs will be created and further indirect jobs will be created for the overall economy."
The company is planning to work in development and training programmes for the Omani employees to make them ready once operations start, he added.
Saraya Bandar Jissah, which was recently awarded the Best Mixed-Use Development in Oman, is spread over 2.2 square kilometres but will only develop 20 per cent of the land in order to maintain the natural beauty of the site.
The high-end housing units in the ICT, which are split over five zones, will be available for purchase by all nationalities.
In his speech, Al Hosni said that the second stage of construction reflects Saraya Bandar Jissah's commitment to the development of a world class touristic destination in the beautiful natural surroundings of Oman.
The delivery date for the first phase of the project, which includes the hotels, the recreational facilities and three residential zones, is 2017. The second phase, which consists of two residential zones, will be completed in 2020.
According to Al Hosni, Saraya Bandar Jissah has invested heavily in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
He noted, "Focusing on three main areas, education, environment and community, Saraya Bandar Jissah is working closely with the local communities and Shura Council to make sure all CSR projects create the maximum impact. "Some of our CSR projects are external scholarships for students, constructing public buildings in the nearby community and, also, other different social activities."
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the ceremony, Saraya Bandar Jissah CEO said that the development provides a good chance for the banks to participate in the project financing as the project will be financed through capital injection by the shareholders and project financing.
According to him, target clients are Omani nationals, visitors from other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, and tourists from other countries.
In his address to the ground-breaking ceremony, Gerald Lawless, Jumeirah Group president and CEO, said that the project will contribute greatly to the development of tourism in Oman given that the economic reach of travel and tourism is deep.
"Recent industry report shows that Oman's tourism industry increased in 2013. Over two million global tourists visited Oman last year. The World Travel and Tourism Council reports that the direct contribution of travel and tourism to Oman's GDP was close to a billion Omani riyals or three percent of total GDP in 2013. Over the next 10 years it is expected to rise by 5.4 per cent annually," he said.
Lawless added that travel and tourism is also a significant creator of jobs.
"In fact, in Oman it directly supported 37,000 jobs or 3.3 per cent of total employment last year. This figure is expected to rise until 2024 by almost four percent annually to 60,000 jobs."