Muscat: Oman’s iconic landmark and one of the jewels in the crown of Operation Oman—the plan to put the Sultanate on the global tourism map—the new Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) will open its doors on September 26, officials revealed.
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Surrounded by nature, the world-class centre overlooks a wadi, which is a haven for Oman’s exotic bird life and is located only 10 minutes away from the new Muscat International Airport.
“Work is nearing completion for Madinat Al Irfan’s first phase features,” officials from Omran, the Sultanate’s leading master developer, said. The Times of Oman was allowed to take pictures and videos of the project, which will be hosting its first exhibition in October 2016. Approximately 2,000 staff are working round-the-clock to ensure the building is ready within weeks.
Workers were seen polishing the marble, while others were checking on the sound system in the five halls of the OCEC. “Flexibility is key to the success of the centre and the five halls can be used individually or can be merged into one large space of over 22,000 square metres,” said an official.
Technicians were busy checking if the air conditioning system was working, while another group of workers was preparing the impressive landscaped area in the front of the centre’s impressive concourse.
During its first year, OCEC will focus on supporting Oman’s exhibition industry. “Amongst the events we will be hosting are: Infra Oman—the first event that will take place from October 10 to 12, an education fair EduTrac Oman and the leading international Plastics, Rubber, Petrochemicals, Printing and Packaging Industry Exhibition—OmanPlast,” officials stated.
“We will also be hosting niche events, such as December’s IGN Convention, a major youth-focused gaming event,” they added.
OCEC is owned and developed by Omran, which is responsible for the master planning and development of the Madinat Al Irfan Urban Centre, the new vibrant heart of Muscat.
Madinat Al Irfan is set to become a new world-class central district in Muscat that will create an exciting addition to Muscat’s international offerings, complete with a financial district, residential, commercial, retail, recreational and tourist facilities.
Madinat Al Irfan will be a leader in resilient and sustainable design, representing a “Catalyst for Change” in the country.
Its first feature, OCEC will help position Oman to become a major venue for regional and international events, developing Oman’s Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) sector and business tourism offerings, while attracting local and foreign investors and partners to an ideal location to develop tourism and real estate in the heart of Muscat.
OCEC will also add a key pillar to Oman’s tourism development and the project is undoubtedly one of the most important tourism investment projects in the country. It also promises to engender pride in every Omani because of its truly iconic stature and its development as one of the great landmarks of modern Oman.
There will be substantial socio-economic benefits. The OCEC project will create thousands of jobs for Omani citizens and act as a catalyst for SME growth in Oman’s tourism and MICE sectors. The project will also contribute to national capacity building, affording Omanis the opportunity to attend many specialised events and share knowledge and expertise with visitors.
It will serve as a new and sustainable source of revenue for the national economy, thereby advancing Oman’s economic diversification objectives. The project will not only stimulate growth in the tourism sector in general, but also unlock business and investment opportunities that will drive GDP growth.
Additional key features of the centre will also include 4,000 parking spaces surrounded by a lush green nature reserve.
The precinct will include four luxury hotels, including the five-star JW Marriot and the four-star Crowne Plaza, both of which are set to open in 2017.
Phase two of the centre is due to open in December 2017 and has been crafted to attract world-class conventions and events.
With an elegant theatre to seat 3,200 delegates or concert goers, the centre will attract international convention and entertainment events. It will also include a Grand Ballroom to seat up to 2,688 people theatre style or 1,200 for a banquet, a Junior Ballroom to seat up to 1,026 theatre style or 540 for a banquet plus a 450-seat auditorium and 19 meeting rooms.