The Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN) has joined hands with Bank Sohar as the chief financial partner for the development of the Crowne Plaza Hotel within the upcoming Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) precinct. The financing agreement, which is valued at OMR 30.6 million, was formalized in a signing ceremony held at Omran’s headquarters in Al Khuwair on Monday 28 September.
The agreement was signed by Eng. Said Al Qasmi, Chief Project Officer of OCEC on behalf of Omran and Mr. Rashad Ali Al Musafir, Acting CEO of Bank Sohar, in an event attended by senior officials from Omran and Bank Sohar. Also present at the event were representatives from the National Bank of Oman and Ahli Bank, acting as financial consultants and Al Busaidy, Mansoor Jamal & Co. (AMJ) acting as legal advisors for the Crowne Plaza development.
Eng. Ali Ali Rasbi, Acting CEO of Omran noted, “This agreement represents great synergy between Omran and the banking sector in the Sultanate. As our financing partner for the new Crowne Plaza hotel at the OCEC precinct, Bank Sohar is playing an important role in the development of one of the most comprehensive and modern conference and exhibition centers in the region. The new Crowne Plaza hotel adds significant guest capacity to the hospitality offering in Muscat, allowing us to welcome greater numbers of business visitors to the Sultanate.”
“Such an agreement underscores the confidence of major institutions in the nation’s rapidly growing tourism sector. We are pleased to join hands with Bank Sohar on a development that forms such a major component in this project of national significance.”
He added, “The agreement is part of the financial model pursued by Omran whereby private institutions work hand-in-hand with the government on commercial projects. We are currently looking at a similar model of funding for the upcoming JW Marriott Hotel also under development at the OCEC, which like the Crowne Plaza, is scheduled for completion in 2017. Creating increased hotel capacity is a priority for Oman and such agreements are necessary in order to achieve this. Together with our partners, Omran strives to develop unique tourist destinations and innovative urban environments such as the OCEC, destinations that enhance the Sultanate’s leisure and business offerings.”
The new four-star hotel will be operated by Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts, part of the InterContinental Hotel Group. The hotel, currently under construction, includes state-of-the-art food and beverage outlets, meeting facilities and a health and leisure club, will add an additional 296 keys to hotel offerings in the Sultanate. As with all projects under construction by Omran and within OCEC, the hotel is being built according to the highest standards of environmental sustainability and is designed to meet the criteria for the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Commenting on the ceremony, Mr. Rashad Al Musafir, Acting CEO of Bank Sohar said, “Bank Sohar is proud to be associated with Omran in this agreement. This partnership is a reflection of Bank Sohar’s continuing efforts to support the growth of the hospitality sector in line with the Government’s objective of further diversifying the economy. Furthermore, we are always looking towards supporting projects by both; private and globally respected entities, similar to this landmark hotel, projects that foster economic growth and generate local employment.”
Eng. Ali Al Rasbi also noted, “As an integral part of the Omran’s strategy to broaden partnerships with the private sector, Omran’s 2015 approved budget took into consideration commercial financing for specific developments. This allows the company to diversify its funding sources. Through partnerships, the public and private sectors work in harmony to benefit investors and the national economy in the years to come.”
The OCEC precinct plays a key role in the Government’s strategy to diversify the national economy and stands as the centerpiece of Oman’s business development programme. The business and urban precinct will position the Sultanate as a major venue for regional and international events and in doing so, will increase Oman’s business tourism offerings and strengthen the sector at large. Once complete, the OCEC complex will include four hotels, a business park, and a retail shopping mall in addition to the Convention Centre Precinct. Construction works on the OCEC continue at pace with exhibition halls scheduled for opening in Q1 2016.
“Omran’s role extends beyond that of a master developer. We also act as a catalyst for attracting and enabling national and international investors to take part in bringing our unique projects to life. We have noticed an increasing appetite from investors to become involved in the nation’s rapidly growing tourism sector. Through agreements such as this, we are catering for such enthusiasm and at the same time enabling greater development within the sector.” Added Al Rasbi.
“Omran creates enduring investor value while providing healthy social and economic returns for partners and the residents of Oman. Investors in the Sultanate are increasingly looking to position themselves in the tourism and urban development sector due to the solid year-on-year gains shown across all indicators. Omran’s wide-ranging development portfolio is attracting local and international investors who are looking towards sustainable investment opportunities that provide healthy long-term returns.”