The Madinat Al Irfan Urban Development Project, which will create a new downtown area for the capital governorate of Oman, is expected to contribute an estimated $1.4 billion — $1.6 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually, according to a top official overseeing the implementation of this mega-scheme. Saif al Hinai, Executive Director, said the project will also generate an estimated 80,000–90,000 new jobs when it is substantially in place over the next several decades.
Al Hinai made the comments during an exclusive presentation to a gathering of Omani real estate developers at Almouj Golf Course last week. Along with James Wilson, CEO of Omran, which is the master-developer of the project, the Executive Director sought to drum up investor interest in the upscale development from amongst local players. The vision behind Madinat Al Irfan, which is under development a few kilometres from Muscat International Airport, is to create a “new vibrant heart” for the capital city, said Al Hinai.
“We discovered there is a need for a downtown commercial hub in Muscat that will set new standards and elevate the quality of life for its residents, while maintaining Oman’s overall culture, heritage and values. It will also serve as a catalyst for local private investment and support the diversification of the Omani economy,” he stated. Offering a staggering 4.5 million sq metres in real estate distributed across an array of segments, Madinat Al Irfan is being billed as the largest urban development in the Sultanate to date.
We expect to execute the city in five to six phases over a roughly 30-year timeframe, said Al Hinai, adding that residential components will account for 49 per cent of the mixed use development, commercial spaces 27 per cent, retail 4 per cent, and hospitality 3 per cent, with government buildings and civic facilities included in the remaining 17 per cent. A master plan prepared by Omran of the ambitious scheme envisages an array of key districts that include the centrepiece Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC), elements of which are already under construction, Al Irfan Central, Al Irfan West, and the government district to the west. A ridge on the southern flank of the city will accommodate a number of residential neighbourhoods.
“Like any other modern city, Madinat Al Irfan will have all the ingredients of a smart city,” the Executive Director said. “In addition to the Convention Centre, there will be as many as twelve 4 and 5-star hotels, all kinds of residential and commercial mixed used components, business parks, shopping malls, theatres, water parks, district parks, hospitals and healthcare centres, schools, colleges, mosques, police stations, utilities and recreational facilities.”
Furthermore, as a model city Medinat Al Irfan will appeal not only to its residents, but business visitors and tourists as well, he stressed. “To visitors, the city will provide an excellent first impression of Muscat, rich in entertainment and retail components and ample green pedestrian areas. To business visitors, there will be a new business district and high-end business hotels with easy proximity of the Convention Centre and airport. To residents, the city will be a prestigious living area with lots of green spaces, while companies and its employees located with the city will enjoy all of the features of a new business district with one-stop-shop facilities.”
According to James Wilson, CEO of Omran, the project has attracted the interest of dozens of prospective investors. In support of its marketing efforts, Omran plans to set up a marketing office within the City. “We will put in a marketing suite on site so you can see the land, the fully serviced plots that are available to invest in immediately, and so on. We have lawyers working on special regulations for the new city to make it easy to do business and easy to build,” he added.