Muscat: Oman’s first integrated light industries city, which will be developed by Sandan Development at a cost of OMR100 million, is expected to be complete in the middle of 2018, catering to automotive and construction sectors.
The first-of-its-kind project will be constructed over 250,000sqm of land, located 5km away from Al Mabailah exit at the express way.
The details of the project were announced at a press conference at Grand Hyatt Hotel on Monday. It was attended by Saleem bin Hassan Al Balushi, the assistant director general of the Directorate General of Real Estate Development at the Ministry of Housing; Said bin Naser bin Salim Al Rashdi, the chief executive officer of Sandan, and a number of other officials.
According to Al Rashdi, the city will host 2,200 workshops and exhibitions for building materials and automotive, 400 offices and 1,800 residential units for workers.
All the units of the project -- including workshops, offices, tradeshows and residential units -- will be offered for direct sale, and buyers have the opportunity to pay in interest-free instalments extending for 18 months.
All facilities, such as hypermarket, restaurants, hospital and mosque, are expected to be available for the expected 15,000 people who will reside in the city.
Al Rashdi said that private investors have invested in the land and the project and Sandan will be the developer of the project.
At the moment, there is no foreign investor in the project, he noted.
He added that Sandan has been established to deliver this specific project and may get involved in developing similar projects in other areas of Oman in the future.
According to Al Rashdi, the project will be developed in four phases. The first phase is related to the auto industry and the second one to the construction sector.
Sale for the first two phases will be launched at the same time on February 22 and the two other phases will be sold later.
Commenting on the construction of the project, he stated that a tender will be floated in April and the construction is expected to start by June or July this year.
The work team had assigned the comprehensive feasibility study to PwC, a leading global company, and the technical feasibility study to Huller, a leading German company. Project drawings have been approved by the Ministry of Housing, Royal Oman Police (ROP) and the Civil Defense.
At least 8,000 jobs are to be accommodated after the completion of the project, Al Rashdi said, adding that it cannot be said that these would be new jobs as some of the businesses will only be shifting there.
He said that it is not clear how many jobs will be created during the construction of the project.
Biggest auto gathering
The front line of the project is planned to host 50 auto tradeshows with a capacity of more than 1,000 vehicles, supported by all workshops that are necessary for auto trade.
There will be more than 1,200 workshops for repairing, spare parts and auto requirements. This will make Sandan the biggest and first destination for vehicles customers.
The next division of the city hosts building materials, tradeshows, exhibitions and workshops for required professions, such as carpentry, blacksmith and aluminum workshops and ceramic shops.
The third division hosts 400 office unites for companies that have activities to practice inside the city. All office spaces are designed to match the latest trends and fulfill the needs of the traders and employees.
The city is supported by 1,800 residential units for the workers to help them save time and effort and achieve work-life balance for more productivity. More than 10,000 people are expected to live within the area.
Al Rashdi said that the project provides a good opportunity for those car dealers who are currently displaying cars in locations that are not designed for this purpose.
“Every car showroom with us will be having space for around 22 cars to be displayed in front of the shop,” he said.
The project’s location is convenient for customers coming from Muscat or Al Batinah and helps make traffic flow go smoothly.
Ministry of Housing
On the role of the Ministry of Housing in the project, Al Rashdi said that it is a development project so has to be supervised by the ministry.
The ministry will monitor the progress and the delivery of the project as well as the quality of the facilities and services and any conflict between owners and the development company can be resolved through the Ministry of Housing, he noted.
Asked if the project allows for further expansion into other industries, he stated that light industries are being targeted at the moment, which are mainly construction and automotive sectors.
According to him, expansion prospects are pretty much limited in this location and if any expansion is considered in the future, it would be in other areas than Muscat.
He also noted that some offices and spaces are available for general usage.
Two years ago, the work team launched a study and analysis for the neighboring markets, such as Al Mabailah and Saqsouq, and had meetings with building materials and auto traders to have sufficient idea about their needs.
The team made business trips to similar projects in Malaysia and Turkey to know the merits and demerits of such project.
The main avenue at the middle of the city, the boulevard, is a two-way street with restaurants, banks, travel offices and all services the residents and workers need. The boulevard is planned to be a continued line of greenery with trees and flowers.
All workshops and showrooms have been designed to offer the optimal use for business needs. The design team spent a long time with leading businessmen to explore their needs and expectations. At Sandan, the average workshop is three times the average space at the neighbouring places.
The average workshop is 80sqm in area and 6m in height. Furthermore, an agreement with a telecom company has been signed to pre-install fiber optic cables for all units.
The units of the project (workshops, showrooms, offices and residential units) are offered for sale with big facilitations to encourage the entrepreneurs to take the lead and have their own business.
The customers are offered an opportunity to pay in a period of 18 months. It is the time by which the project is expected to be completed. During a meeting with the auto dealers, all used car showrooms were sold within hours.
Moreover, the project management is engaged in dialogue with the concerned bodies and entities to offer special services and facilitations for the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector to help young Omani entrepreneurs establish their business.