MUSCAT: Khazaen Economic City, an integrated multipurpose hub located on Muscat’s doorstep, has already snagged over $1 billion in project investments as of end-2023 – a milestone that earned it the coveted ‘Fastest Growing Investment Destination’ accolade at an awards ceremony held in Dubai on Tuesday.

Announcing the award in a post on Wednesday, Khazaen – part of Oman Investment Authority (OIA) – stated: “We are glad to announce that Khazaen Economic City received the prestigious Dubai International Finance Award as the ‘Fastest Growing Investment Destination’. Notably, Khazaen attracted a total of 17 investor nationalities within a span of 30 months. It serves as a testament to the city's competitiveness as a promising destination for investors and entrepreneurs on the regional economic landscape."

According to Eng Salim bin Sulaiman al Thuhli, CEO, 2023 witnessed a significant uptick in investments – local and international – into Khazaen, lifting net inflows into the City well above the $1 billion mark for the first time. Underscoring its global appeal, foreign investors contributed 57.7% (equivalent to $583 million) of the total, with around $483 million coming from local players.

Speaking to ‘Duqm Economist’, the quarterly news magazine of the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones (OPAZ), Al Thuli cited Khazaen’s strategic location, roughly midway between Muscat and the industrial seaport of Suhar, as a key factor driving its success.

“Khazaen is recognized as an extension of the expanding population and urban development in Muscat Governorate,” the newsletter quoted him as saying. “Situated merely half an hour from both Muscat International Airport and Suwaiq Port, and approximately two hours from Sohar port, the City plays a pivotal role in bolstering the movement of goods among Omani airports and ports. This advantageous placement also leverages the available storage facilities within Khazaen Economic City.”

Further accentuating the City’s appeal to investors are ease of access and seamless connectivity with the wider economy, the CEO noted. “Positioned within a logistics network, the City enjoys direct connectivity to diverse airports and ports across Oman. Its infrastructure has been prepped to incorporate a future railway system, further strengthening its logistical ties with both land and sea ports.”

Boding well for Khazaen’s broad-based investment appeal is its success in garnering capital inflows across a wide array of sectors, led by the industrial and manufacturing segment, which netted $345 million in investments. The pharmaceutical segment came a close second with $301 million, followed by food ($275 million) and logistics ($122 million). Complementing these principal clusters are investments in clean energy, circular economy and supportive infrastructure, such as integrated housing and business services.

But underpinning its long-term success are a number of landmark investments, notably The Food City anchored by the Khazaen Central Market for Vegetables & Fruits, Khazaen Land Port with its offering of customized logistics solution, the International Logistics Centre, staff housing complex, and a one-stop-shop for licensing. Also on the anvil for development are integrated housing units “aimed at fostering a seamless blend of living, working, and entertainment aspects within the City,” he noted.

Key ventures making headway at Khazaen Central Market for Vegetables and Fruit, Khazaen headquarters complex, Opal Biopharma Phase II, Saudi Arabia’s Al Watania Al Khalijyah for Paper Products, Al Zayzafon Factory for Sanitary Materials, Industrial Logistics Complex (Phase II), and Salalah Mills factory, he added.

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