The Ras Al Hamra (RAH) residential redevelopment project is to be implemented in five phases by 2023. Phase-1, which includes 280 residential units, an international school, mosque and a golf course, has been completed, says Ahmed Al-Shaibani, RAH Development Manager. Oommen John P reports
An integrated residential township with a ‘confluence of cultures’ complementing the tourism development of the Sultanate is taking shape at PDO’s Ras Al Hamra (RAH) estate in Muscat. PDO, which has begun redevelopment of the residential area for staff in RAH, is making good progress on the integrated community township project.
Located in Qurum Valley, the Ras Al Hamra residential development once complete is set to provide accommodation for 1,067 staff of PDO, one of Oman’s largest companies, which employs people from over 70 nationalities. The 281-hectare masterplan has been packaged over five phases to provide high-quality, low density homes and amenities in an environmentally sustainable community.
The Phase-1 residential and infrastructure package, which includes 280 residential units, an international school, mosque and a golf course, was completed in 2015. The development project lost a year due to the challenging economic environment, but is now on track for continuation of the planned future phases. The masterplan is envisaged to be completed by 2023 and features a stunning residential and leisure complex including villas, apartments, a golf clubhouse and a hotel.
The ambitious scheme is primarily a PDO residential project for staff which started in 2011. The company is trying to basically urbanise the area and develop it as part of the overall masterplan. At the same time, it is also keen to add value to tourism in Oman by creating a high standard residential and leisure destination for PDO staff and the wider public, says Ahmed.
“We are redeveloping the RAH areas and building a sustainable housing community for PDO staff. The old stock of residential units have exceeded their design life and the time has come to replace them with new, more sustainable ones. The development comprises villas, townhouses and apartments. A mosque, an international school for approximately 650 pupils, and a 9-hole floodlit golf course, where night golf is possible, were completed for our staff in the first phase. A boutique hotel is also planned in the later phase,” says Ahmed. The PDO School is the first LEED-certified school building in the Sultanate and the region. The school building incorporates many sustainable green building features in design and construction and is in sync with local culture.
The RAH is unique to PDO. “We are the biggest company in Oman contributing to the income of the country. And we had a challenge with oil prices going down. We have managed to justify the external funding and gone ahead. The Phase -1 funding is through shareholders, while the Phase – 2 is being done through external funding. The fundamental principle of the redevelopment is to ensure that there is no change to the topography of the area, and to maintain the look and feel of RAH by minimizing the cut to the mountains. We intend to create 25 per cent ‘green’ space and provide ways and means for people to come to RAH by walking and cycling in a safe manner,” he adds.
“We have completed Phase-1, which consists of about 280 residential units. Phase-2 was awarded early this year, while Phase-3 and 4 will be awarded in 2018. Phase-5, which is the last phase of development, will be undertaken in 2019. Once complete, the residential development will have 1,067 units in three categories with a population of 4,000 to 5,000. At least 30 per cent of the integrated community will be Omanis,” Ahmed says.
One of the key features of the redevelopment is cultural exchange as it will house people from dozens of different nationalities along with Omani families. With a keen eye on maximising In-country Value (ICV), all construction contracts have been awarded to local contractors. More than $200Mn of work has been awarded to local contractors and SMEs, and approximately 70 per cent of materials are local products. Around 300 Omanis have been employed in the first phase with a plan to train more Omanis in skilled jobs, such as designers, quantity surveyors and quality inspectors, avers Ahmed. “We intend to create 600 jobs for Omanis throughout the development.”
One of the key objectives is to reduce energy consumption and there are a number of initiatives to achieve this. One such is an energy-efficient move to install solar street lights in the residential development, and LED lights will be used for internal lighting. The aim is to reduce energy consumption. “We are also fitting new villas with solar water heaters to ensure the efficient use of electricity,” says Ahmed.
PDO is adding to real estate development by developing something unique. The general public, Ahmed says, will have access to walking and cycling paths, parks and children play area, mosque and golf course. However, they are expected to respect the RAH community by adhering to speed limits within the residential development and ensure that they minimise any disturbance to the community. The RAH project team is already promoting certain events together with the community such as National Day celebrations, Earth Hour and providing Iftar in the RAH mosque throughout the Holy Month of Ramadan.