Muscat: Total investment opportunities for the first and second phases of transport and logistics stood at OMR1.6 billion, said Eng. Said Hamoud Al Maawali, Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, on Sunday .

He pointed out that during the past year, 98 tenders were awarded with an estimated value of more than OMR612 million, including 56 tenders for the transport and logistics sector, and 32 others for the information and communications technology sector.

This was stated during the 11th media briefing of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, which was held to review the Ministry’s executive plan for the current year (2024) and the projects implemented in 2023.

He explained during a visual presentation during the media briefing, that the Omani ports received about 11,000 ships in 2023. The volume of general and bulk cargo reached more than 93 million tonnes, and the number of Omani flagged ships and marine units was 662.

The minister added that the performance rate of government institutions in measuring government digital transformation reached 72 percent, as the procedures for 578 digital services were simplified.

He further said that the value of the partnerships and deals that were concluded at the COMEX 2023 stood at OMR40 million.

He pointed out that the cost of maintaining asphalt and dirt roads during 2023 amounted to OMR114 million. The ministry paved more than 200 kilometres, including 16 kilometres of new lengths, and 185 kilometres of existing roads damaged by climatic conditions, at a cost amounting to about OMR96 million.

Al Maawali explained that in 2024, the ministry seeks to establish a dry dock and a project to build and maintain medium and large vessels, open the first hydrogen-powered station in the Sultanate of Oman, and begin assigning the work of implementing the joint railway project (Sohar - Abu Dhabi) and preparing a draft law for the project.

The minister said, “The Ministry is working on launching the unified national portal project for electronic government services in the communications and information technology sector for the current year (2024), and implementing a number of projects for the National Centre for Space, Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Technology.

He stated that the Omani satellite, the launch date of which will be announced during the coming period, will be dedicated to communications.

For his part, Eng. Khamis Mohammed Al Shamakhi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology for Transport, explained that the most prominent strategic road projects for the current year (2024) are the project to complete Al Batinah Coastal Road (Part One, Phase One), which includes completing the remaining parts from the Wilayat of Barka to the Wilayat of A’Suwaiq, in addition to A’Suwaiq link and Barka link, completing the construction works of the Al Sharqiyah Expressway (Al Kamil - Sur), and the remaining works of the Al Batinah Expressway (third package), in addition to the design and implementation of (Diba - Lima - Khasab) road in Musandam Governorate, and the existing dual-carriageway from the wilayats of Al Kamil and Al Wafi to the Wilayat of Jaalan Bani Bu Ali in the South Al Sharqiyah Governorate, and (Adam-Thumrait) dual-carriageway project, (parts third, fourth, and fifth: Haima-Thumrait).

Regarding logistical connectivity projects for the year (2024), Al Shamakhi said that the ministry is currently implementing Khazaen Economic Zone’s roads project, which is planned to be completed in the first quarter of this year (2024).

He added that the ministry has proposed a project to complete the dual-carriageway leading to the border crossing in the Empty Quarter (first phase), and implement a surface intersection on the Souq roundabout in the Wilayat of Ibri, the remaining works of Al Batinah Expressway (Package 5 - Free Zone Link) in Sohar, and the establishment of a factory for Nakheel Oman Development Company in the Wilayat of Nizwa, Governorate of Al Dakhiliyah.

Regarding tourism connectivity projects for the current year (2024), Al Shamakhi said, “The ministry is working to find an alternative road linking South Al Batinah to Al Jabal Al Akhdar, design and implement the Wadi Bani Jaber Road (Phase 2), complete the remaining works for the Saih Qatna Road in Al Jabal Al Akhdar, and implement the Jabal Shams Road.

As for road rehabilitation projects during the year 2024, He pointed out that the ministry will rehabilitate several roads, the most important of which are Bidbid-Nizwa, Al Hazm-A’Rustaq in the Wilayat of A’Rustaq, and paving Al Aflaj road in the Wilayat of Al Mudhaibi. The Ministry will also work to repair the damage to the Nadan-Bahla Road.

For his part, Dr. Ali Amer Al Shithani, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology for Communications and Information Technology, pointed out that the value of internal investments in artificial intelligence (AI) in the private sector in the Sultanate of Oman during the past year (2023) stood at about OMR30 million.

He added that the ministry seeks to digitize basic services by 80 percent by the end of 2025, explaining that these services have been initiated in the “Antakhib” application for the Shura Council and the Childhood and Elderly Benefit of the Social Protection Fund.

Al Shithani said, “The ministry is working on creating a generative artificial intelligence model for Omani content that will be trained on Omani cultural, historical, artistic, scientific, cultural and political content, and starting the national institutional infrastructure project for information technology and digital transformation, inaugurating the “Hadatha” Award for cybersecurity, inaugurating “Hadatha” centres for the cybersecurity industry at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences, starting the space accelerator project, and starting the project to upgrade the electronic certification system”.

During the media briefing, the “Green Mobility Award” was launched, the organisation of the second Green Mobility Forum was announced during the current year (2024), and the designation of the 30th of April each year as a day for the logistics sector in the Sultanate of Oman.

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