Sohar Free Zone development set

23 September 2010
MUSCAT -- Development of Freezone Sohar, one of Oman's biggest economic undertakings, is due to begin in earnest following the signing of a key civil works contract yesterday.

Sohar Free Zone LLC, which is overseeing the development of a massive free zone adjoining the Port of Sohar, inked the contract with Al Naboodah Contracting LLC, one of the largest contracting firms of the United Arab Emirates.

It paves way for the development of civil infrastructure and utility services on a 500-hectare area, representing the first phase of the 4,500-hectare free zone project in the Batinah region.

Sultan bin Salim al Habsi, Financial Affairs Under-Secretary at the Finance Ministry and Board Member, signed on behalf of Sohar Free Zone LLC, with Jamal T Aziz, CEO of Freezone Sohar. Representing Al Naboodah Contracting were Senan Abdullah Mohammed al Naboodah, Group Vice-Chairman, and Peter Keenan, Chief Operating Officer (International).

Also in attendance were Jan Meijer, CEO of Port of Sohar, Neelima Vyas, Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Freezone Sohar, and senior officials from the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

Sohar Free Zone LLC has been awarded the government's mandate to manage and develop the 4,500-hectare greenfield site as a free zone which will offer a number of incentives for investors.

Integrated with the free zone is a multi-modal transport infrastructure comprising the Port of Sohar, Sohar Airport (currently under construction) and a planned rail port. In a statement, Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Chairman of the Board of Port of Sohar and Freezone Sohar, hailed the contract signing as an important milestone that will set the stage for local and foreign small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who wish to take advantage of Sohar's booming industrial clusters and its modern transport infrastructure.

According to Jamal Aziz of Freezone Sohar, yesterday's contract represents the first of three packages covering the infrastructure development of Phase I of the free zone project.

An estimated RO 20-25 million will be invested in these packages, he noted.

The scope of the contract inked yesterday covers the site clearance, soil works and perimeter fencing.
With the implementation of this package, Freezone Sohar will be demonstrating to investors its seriousness about getting the free zone project off the ground, he said.

The infrastructure development work undertaken by Freezone Sohar is being structured to satisfy the wishes of a number of committed and prospective tenants eager to start their projects on their respective plots within a short span of time.

In parallel with the enabling works contract, various utility companies are also making headway in the implementation of the initial phases of their strategies to provided electricity, water and telecom services within the free zone.

In addition, the Ministry of Heritage and Culture will start archaeological excavation work on a number of pre-Islamic graves in the free zone.

These digs are supported by Sohar Free Zone LLC and will be carried out under the auspices of the two-year Sohar Heritage Project.

For Al Naboodah Construction, the contract effectively marks into debut into the Sultanate's contracting sector.

The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group has been operating for over 50 years, offering a diverse range of services in four core business segments -- construction, commercial products, investments and real estate.

By Staff Reporter

© Oman Daily Observer 2010

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