Oman’s two pension funds to own 20% of new Crowne Plaza hotel
September 7, 2016 | 5:34 PM
by Times News Service

Muscat: Oman’s two leading pension funds have decided to invest a total of 20 per cent in the new Crowne Plaza hotel, which is under development as part of the first phase of the Madinat Al Irfan Urban Centre.

State-owned Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran), the master developer of the Madinat Al Irfan Urban Centre project in Muscat, said its initial Private Placement Memorandum (PPM) agreement for the development has been a successful first stage of its public-private sector partnership approach.

Both the funds — the Public Authority for Social Insurance and the Sultan Special Force pension — demonstrated an interest in participation in phase one of Madinat Al Irfan, and when offered the Crowne Plaza proposition both chose to invest, taking a total of 20 per cent of the purchase between them, according to a press release from Omran.

The Crowne Plaza at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC), which is on track to open in 2017, was one of several assets offered for investment in response to private sector interest in involvement with phase one of the Madinat Al Irfan development.

“We had indicated an interest in investing in the major developments Omran and the Ministry of Tourism was planning, so the offer of an investment in the initial phase of Madinat Al Irfan was an attractive one. The investment proposition was low risk because Omran had done a lot of the development work already, including the award of contract and the financing, so this was a robust choice for us to participate in the flagship project,” said Sheikh Ghasan Khamis Al Hashar, Investment Director of Public Authority of Social Insurance.

“The Madinat Al Irfan Urban Centre is a milestone project in Oman, and one which will have far reaching benefits for residents. We saw this as a fantastic opportunity to become involved, and with the socio-economic benefits linked to the project, it aligned perfectly with our investment objectives,” he added.

“This kind of public-private sector cooperation is vital when it comes to developments on the scale of Madinat Al Irfan. The breadth of what the project will offer residents and visitors alike will come to fruition through investment from both public and private sector organisations,” noted Salah bin Salim Al Ghazali, chief investment officer of Omran.

“Omran has invested significantly in phase one of Al Irfan to create a robust foundation for growth of the site, providing low-risk options for private sector investment. Great progress is being made at the OCEC and surrounding precinct, and as the Crowne Plaza demonstrates, the private sector is investing in building this momentum now that assets are on the ground,” added Al Ghazali.

“Omran has saved approximately OMR1.5 million on construction costs of the Crowne Plaza project to date. And since Madinat Al Irfan’s Mulkhiya (title deed) was recently transferred by the Oman Ministry of Tourism to Omran, the company has increased its use of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) as a key approach in developing the project,” said Al Ghazali.

Part of Al Irfan phase one, the Crowne Plaza will be a four-star hotel with 296 rooms, offering visitors a comprehensive experience including varied food and beverage outlets as well as a health and leisure club. Its proximity to the OCEC will make it an ideal choice for business travelers.

The phase also includes the luxury JW Marriott hotel, a five-star, 304 key property with full amenities for guests. Both properties will be part of the OCEC precinct, the key initial asset in the first phase of Al Irfan. Both hotels and the convention centre are on track to open next year, with the OCEC exhibition halls set to open later this month.

The OCEC and the wider Madinat Al Irfan Urban Centre are at the heart of the Oman government’s strategy to diversify the Sultanate’s economy. By establishing a mixed-use business and urban city, Oman will become a major venue for regional and international events, developing Oman’s MICE and business tourism offerings as well as providing the ideal location to develop local talent.

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