Muscat: Al Mouj Muscat Marathon, held earlier this year has highlighted the economic benefits of hosting major international sporting events in Oman.
A record breaking 1,300 runners from 76 nationalities, of which 176 flew in from abroad, set off from the marathon race village at Oman’s premier lifestyle destination Al Mouj Muscat on the full-distance marathon, half marathon and 10kms courses with superb conditions attracting massive crowds and contributing to a stream of personal bests.
Runners and supporters praised the organisation of the event, which was driven by the Omani Government’s Tanfeedh initiative, a national programme that has identified sports tourism, a fast-growing sector of the global travel industry, to enhance economic diversification. The initiative is rooted in an established model that people come to a country to experience an event and spend money on flights, hotels, taxis, attractions and shops.
Oman Sail, joint organisers of the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon with Muscat Road Runners, have vast experience of working with this model in hosting international sailing events each year, including the Extreme Sailing Series where entire sailing and shore teams bring friends, families, sponsors and supporters to Muscat. Oman Sail also brought the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series to Oman to great acclaim. An independent KPMG report found that for every OMR1 spent on the America’s Cup event in Oman, the return was an impressive OMR11.
Creating, planning and delivering these events requires a multitude of technical and non-technical skills and provides an opportunity for Omanis to learn specialised jobs that will allow them to contribute to Oman’s diversification.
15% of the participants came from overseas, and the plan next year is to grow the event by increasing the number of international participants.
One of the organisations that supported the logistics, safety and medical efforts of the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon was the Royal Omani Amateur Radio Society, which built a radio communication system using wireless amateur frequencies. Younis al-Balushi, society Board Member and Event Director commented: “Working an event of this scale was a challenge, but we were delighted to apply our skills and passion towards making the event a success. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and look forward to applying all our learnings and supporting Al Mouj Muscat Marathon next year".
Several private and government entities came together to create a national event that engaged the community and enhanced the experience of the runners that took part.
The Al Mouj Muscat Marathon was held as part of Muscat Festival and sponsors included Oman Air who offered holiday packages and special air fares for international guests and BP Oman who provided the “BP Souk,” a platform for SMEs to showcase their products. Many of the establishments within Al Mouj Muscat also presented special offers to contribute to the experience of runners and visitors of the event.