Muscat: Duqm, the one of its kind greenfield urban and industrial project, will be developed as a customised smart city, said top government officials. To be developed in phases as per the priorities, smart city technologies will be developed in areas such as public utility services, tourism, security and safety, smart port solutions, campus solutions, traffic lights, road lighting, intelligent building management, and waste management.
It can also cover transportation services, truck weights, smart bus stations, parking, video surveillance, and identification of car and truck plates.
Saleh al Hasni, Director-General for Investments, one-stop shop, Duqm Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZAD), said: “We visited countries such as Japan and Korea which are pioneers in smart city applications. At Duqm, we are developing a greenfield city with the government spending substantial amount on infrastructure.”
He said it is better to investment in early stages because developed cities have faced challenges in laying of cables, which involve both extra cost and efforts.
“For Duqm, it is the right time and smart applications have been sought by a lot of investor clients. As a regulator, as we cannot directly participate in the project, we plan to involve the private sector.”
An agreement has been signed with the telecom operator, Omantel, which will look at the possibility of investment in technology, priorities in phases and costs.
This kind of development needs big time investment and it will be developed in phases — be it in the industrial area, Duqm city or the airport area.
On future investment for Duqm, he said: “We are confident of bringing investment from a well-known country by creating more opportunities for the investors.”
He said the current residential population of Duqm is between 16,000 and 17,000 (majority of them expatriates), which will increase as several mega projects may require massive workforce mobilisation.
Development of commercial centres, cinema halls and other entertainment options will help especially Omanis to become permanent residents of Duqm, he said. For investors, Duqm offers a well-established domestic airport, 2,000 sqm of industrial area, tax free business climate for 30 years and a flexible Omanisation requirement.
The biggest of the projects, Duqm Refinery, will be completed by 2022 with the potential to generate nearly 25,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the 4th “Duqm, Society and Economy” forum, was held under the title “Smart Cities Economy”, discussed enhancement of technology for the development of infrastructure for the construction of smart cities, with participation from experts from the Sultanate and abroad. The forum is organised by the SEZAD and Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) in the Governorate of Al Wusta.
The forum was presided over by Sultan bin Salim al Habsi, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Oman, who said that the forum gives a clear vision of the solutions required for smart cities, as the infrastructure of SEZAD has taken into consideration the solutions required by smart cities in future as most of the infrastructure has been completed in the governorate. He expressed the hope that the governorate will attract more investors.
Yahya bin Saeed bin Abdullah al Jabri, SEZAD Board of Directors Chairman, said: “The global experience in the development of smart and sustainable cities demonstrates the importance of the central role of the government in shaping the general policy of developing the ICT infrastructure, in addition to developing the legislative and institutional frames needed to regulate the services to which they are associated.”
He said that SEZAD has developed a geographic information system in the governorate through which digital conversion are done along with archiving and analysis of all geographical information, including the organisational charts, various development sites, and the infrastructure services, such as roads, electricity, water, communications and rainwater drainage.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Salim bin Sulaiyem al Junaibi, OCCI Deputy Chairman, said: “The forum aims to keep abreast of the economic developments in light of the fourth industrial revolution witnessed in the world. It also seeks to promote technology in developing the performance of the business sector and creating promising investment opportunities in the innovations and smart solutions.”
He said that Duqm is the most promising gateway to the Sultanate’s economy and will be a major logistics hub and a strategic gateway for international trade between the East and West, as well as the headquarters of major international companies.