Duqm: Oman’s Ministry of Tourism plans to transform Duqm’s famed rock garden into a geological park that will help widen the number of tourist sites in the country, and provide jobs and experience to the next generation of residents in the Sultanate.
The programme is being run in collaboration with the Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm (SEZAD), and is in keeping with the Sultanate’s Tanfeedh plans for economic diversification, which has seen tourism earmarked as one of the primary sectors for future growth and development.
The new park, which has been named Al Huqf, will showcase the environment of the Al Wusta Governorate, in which Duqm is located, with the objective of creating a high-quality geotourism product that offers unique visitor experiences, and contributes towards enhancing Oman as a world-class geotourism destination.
Skills of residents
Also of primary importance to the setting up of this park is the importance of using the talents and skills of the residents from the town of Duqm and its surrounding areas. Al Huqf will feature products made by the locals in the Wusta Governorate.
With this in mind, SEZAD and the Ministry of Tourism have organised a competition for local and international investors to submit expressions of interest to develop this site.
Manu Babu has been in Duqm for the last five years, working as a concierge at the Crowne Plaza hotel, organising sightseeing trips for visitors who come to the town.
“Whenever any visitors come here, they always ask us to take them to the rock garden,” he said. “They are always amazed by the rock garden because it has a certain wow factor to it. I am sure this rock garden is going to be famous in future, if it is given proper promotion. We get many German travellers who come to stay with us, and they used to previously travel on the Muscat-Nizwa-Haima-Salalah route, but now they come from Muscat to Duqm, because this is the midpoint between Muscat and Salalah.
They will prefer to travel to Duqm, stay here for one or two days and then go to Salalah, so they will all want to see the rock garden in Duqm because it is the most prominent tourist attraction here,” added Babu.
“If the ministry and SEZAD have a plan to promote this place, it will be better for them, and they can earn revenue from it as well.”
Jasim Al Balushi, assistant director of education and professional development at Oman’s Caledonian College of Engineering, encouraged students to come forward and bid for this project.
“Students who are willing to start their own business and are looking for funds for this would benefit from entering this competition,” he said. “They will get many resources, and also, free land for them to show their ideas, and many of our students are actually planning to enter this competition. The whole outcome of this will provide added value to the economy of the whole country.
“If we develop tourism, then more people will come from outside and this brings more added value and money to the country, which in turn helps us develop our infrastructure,” added Al Balushi. “This means you create more business opportunities. If one business comes up, another will follow, and you are therefore creating more job opportunities as well. There is a lot of work we can do in the tourism sector in Oman and develop it well.”
Application forms are available at www.omantourism.gov.om. Those who wish to enter the competition must email their expressions of interest, on or before the 15th of January, 2018, to [email protected] or to [email protected] Alternatively, interested parties can post these forms to SEZAD and the Ministry of Tourism at P.O. Box 200, PC 112, with the subject ‘The Development of Ad Duqm Rock Garden nature-based tourism project’ on the front of the envelope.