The Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN) has once again this year joined hands with Bank Sohar for the development financing for the JW Marriott Hotel Project within the upcoming Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) precinct and part of emerging Al-Irfan City developed by Omran. The financing agreement, which is valued at OMR 39.68million, was formalised in a signing ceremony held at the JW Marriott Hotel construction site on Monday 28 December 2015.
The agreement was signed by Salah Al Ghazali, Omran’s Acting Chief Investment Officer and Sasi Kumar, the Group General Manager of Business at 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, acting as lead financial advisors, and Al Busaidy, Mansoor Jamal & Co. (AMJ) as legal advisors for the JW Marriott development.
Eng. Ali Rasbi, Acting CEO of Omran noted, “The agreement was part of the financial model pursued by Omran whereby private institutions work hand-in-hand with the government on commercial projects. This deal falls on the back of the OMR 30.6 Million finance deal that was signed with Bank Sohar earlier in September for the Crowne Plaza Hotel Development, also at the OCEC. With finance in place, the five-star JW Marriott development is on track for its scheduled completion in 2017. This development, once completed, will stand as the most prestigious and exclusive of the quartet of hotels planned for the OCEC precinct. The hotel will offer unprecedented levels of luxury, class and service whilst adding significant guest capacity to the hospitality offering in OCEC as well as Muscat as a whole.”
The new five-star hotel, situated at the heart of the OCEC precinct will be operated under the JW Marriott brand. The hotel, currently under construction, includes state-of-the-art food and beverage outlets, meeting facilities and a health and leisure club. Once completed, it will add an additional 304 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. Sasi Kumar, the Group General Manager of Business at Bank Sohar said, “Bank Sohar is proud to be associated with Omran once again for yet another prestigious development. Projects of national importance such as these are key towards the development of the hospitality sector and, in turn, foster economic growth and generate local employment. As a local bank we endeavour to support the Government’s objective of promoting the growth of the hospitality sector and the diversification of the nation’s economy. This valuable partnership is a clear representation of that support.”
Highlighting the high levels of mutual cooperation with the private sector, Salah Al Ghazali, Acting Chief Investment Officer at Omran noted, “This agreement represents yet another milestone for our partnership with Bank Sohar as well as the banking sector in the Sultanate as a whole. We are pleased to join hands with Bank Sohar once again for this development, which is major component of the landmark OCEC project.”
He added, “New development funding arrangements such as these reflect the growing number of opportunities for private sector equity involvement and the rise of mutual partnerships, and indeed we are currently finalising a new investment strategy at Omran that capitalises on these emerging opportunities for tourism development. By taking a position in projects such as these, private sector investors benefit not only from favourable future returns, they are also playing a key role in building capacity to support the rapidly growing tourism and travel sector in Oman.”
The OCEC precinct plays a key role in the Government’s strategy to diversify the national economy and stands as the centrepiece 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 2016.
“OCEC was conceptualised right from the beginning to be a fully integrated convention precinct; one that will play a central role in the government’s drive towards the growth of the tourism sector. Once operational, the precinct as a whole is expected to attract over 600,000 visitors a year. The JW Marriott, together with the Crowne plaza and the two additional planned hotels, will go a long way in facilitating the needs of such a significant number of visitors to the capital region,” noted Eng. Ali Al Rasbi.