Muscat: In an attempt to meet the needs of the nearby village of Al Sifah, the developer of Al Sifah Resort, located in a remote area some fifty kilometres from Muscat, opened the Al Sifah Community Centre today. The community of Al Sifah welcomed the initiative and is looking forward to more cooperation between the resort and the village.
Al Sifah Community Centre, operated in collaboration with Omani Women’s Association, includes a kindergarten and classrooms and will offer classes in IT, English, cooking as well as social activities catered to youth.
Developer Muriya said the centre is a way to give something back to the local community, boosting employability, entrepreneurial drive and income generation. Ahmed Dabbous, CEO of Muriya, said that the centre evolves according to the local needs.
“This is like an incubator for any good idea for the community. We’re not dictating what they should and shouldn’t do, it’s the community that comes with the ideas,” he said.
Olivia Amr, Senior Commercial Director at Muriya, said that the centre will promote local skills. “We support local talent and work on the skills of the community, including women,” she said.
She said that the women and children of Al Sifah will get free English classes, while the resort community can learn Arabic from them. “We find that this relationship is beautiful. They already started under a tree and it happened organically,” she said.
Amr added that their partner Omani Women’s Association (OWA) has been present in the village for a long time. “They understand the needs of the community. We need to support those needs and make it happen,” she said.
Under supervision of the OWA in Muscat, Al Sifah Community Centre employs three full-time and three part-time employees from Al Sifah village, of whom five women.
Noof Al Muaini, Head of OWA in Muscat, said that the centre will enable women to engage with other communities through developing handicraft skills. She said that every handicraft course will be open for 15 to 20 persons, including boys.
H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hameed Al Ghabshi, Deputy Wali of Muscat, praised the role of Muriya in this initiative, saying that it will offer women the chance to sell their handicrafts in the resort. “Economically, it will benefit the community,” he said. Although the number of locals employed in the resort is already “good”, Al Ghabshi said more is expected. “We expect from the company that they will increase the number of those working in the resort,” he said.
According to the PR agency of Muriya, 26 locals from the area are employed at Al Sifah Resort, working in hospitality, security, construction, IT and HR.
While facilities such as the kindergarten and classrooms are a welcome addition to Al Sifah village, there are other needs to be met.
Saif Al Jabri, who is from Al Sifah and member of the main tribe, said that in the village of Al Sifah, with a population of around 1,200, there are disabled students who need to travel long distances to schools and other services. “We hope that they will also offer help to them and we hope that this centre will extend its service not only to Al Sifah, but also to the surrounding area,” he said. He said that the community expects something back from the big projects initiated in the area.
Al Ghabshi said that Muriya has planned to offer a group of disabled villagers the possibility to study in the centre. “It will certainly help them and their families, since they will not have to travel for hours every day,” he said.