Duqm: Oman’s first Wi-Fi friendly work camp called the Renaissance Village in Duqm is capable of accommodating a total of 16,200 workers, and provisions have also been made to ensure they’re fed healthy meals on time.
Nestled within the Village’s kitchens–one of the largest in Oman–are chapatti makers capable of churning out 1,000 chapattis an hour. “We want to provide the workers who will come here healthy and nutritious meals so that they can work at their optimum best,” said Stephen Thomas, chief executive officer at Renaissance Village.
“When they come here, all of their needs are taken care of. We also have a conveyor belt line to pack meals and send them to workers in the field, and should any other company request us for food, we certainly won’t turn them away because that is something we’re looking at in the future.”
Built at a cost of OMR75 million, construction of the Renaissance Village began in 2014 and took 30 months to complete.
With rooms for labourers, entry-level employees, management and senior staff that range from six-bed and four-bed dormitories to two-man shared accommodation, single rooms, and suites for senior staff, the complex was built in anticipation of the large influx of manpower Duqm will receive when construction and economic projects under the Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm (SEZAD) kick into high gear, with the government of Oman looking to diversify its economy by 2020, under the Sultanate’s Tanfeedh regulations.
“Normally, when companies plan construction projects in a new area, they have to build a new labour camp there are then take it all down again once the project is complete, and this is very expensive.” said Thomas. “What we’re doing is offering them a place to stay at a very reasonable cost, and giving them a place that is better than any portacabin accommodation, with a lot more facilities.”
“Our camp is better than the standards set by both the United Nations, and the International Labour Organisation, as well as Oman’s Ministry of Manpower,” he added. Renaissance Village’s kitchens can feed up to 17,000 people, as the camp’s five dining rooms have been designed to accommodate 5,100 people at a time, adjacent to a storage facility and chiller that keeps all perishables as fresh as possible.
Also present on site is a dedicated laundry facility, complete with washing machines, driers and steam ironing facilities that meet the needs of hundreds of workers at a time. The water used in the laundry is then recycled and repurposed to water a football field for workers, complete with floodlights and which is located next to the camp mosque. A 15-bed clinic, complete with an additional 13 bed isolation ward, has also been constructed, with space allocated for barbershops, supermarkets, money exchange houses and anything else that the workers need in the future.
The Renaissance Village also contains recreation rooms and gyms for all the camp residents. While access to all of these services might mean a bigger bill for the companies that wish to put up their workers here, Thomas said this is not the case.
“It’s an economy of scale,” he revealed. “If you were to build 25 different camps and introduce all these facilities on a smaller scale, it would cost more. We expect to fill our camp gradually in 2017 and reach 90 per cent occupancy by 2018 as construction begins to pick up pace.”
“You hear all these stories about how workers are poorly treated in camps and we’re out to show that proper accommodation can be provided at a reasonable cost.”