Pradeep Kumar Nair, Managing Director of ‘ Little India’, the first Integrated Tourism Complex to come up in Duqm and CEO of Sebacic Oman, talks about his investment plans and projects in Oman. Excerpts from an interview
You have recently signed an agreement with SEZAD for developing an Integrated Tourism Complex (ITC) under the name, ‘Little India’. Can you elaborate on the salient features of the project?
Little India is a mix-use Integrated Tourism Complex (ITC), to be developed in phases within the Duqm special economic zone. The project spread over an area of 600,000 square metres of land will be the first ITC project in Duqm. The master plan, designed by internationally renowned architect Sanjay Puri, comprises a wide range of real estate projects, including beach-front villas, resorts, apartment units, a five-star hotel, restaurants, a theatre, marina and commercial buildings, multiplexes, malls, schools, hospitals, community centres etc.
Those foreigners purchasing apartment units within the ITC will receive residence visas, just as with any other ITC project in the Sultanate.
According to the master plan, the whole project will be developed over a period of 10 to 15 years, with a total investment of $750mn and generating 8,000 jobs.
When the project is expected to start? When are the proposed apartment and resort projects expected to be completed?
We are starting the first phase immediately. Work will commence on two projects – a beachfront resort, called The Village, which will have 24 cottages, and an apartment building with 100 flats of varying sizes of studio, two bed-room and three bed-room apartment units.
We are starting the construction of The Village in February 2018 and the project will be completed by October 2018. Designed by another well-known Indian architect, Rashika Khurana, the Village will be a resort-cum entertainment facility offering ATVs, mountain biking, jet ski, zip line, bungee jumping. It will have 24 cottages, a restaurant, and a spa & wellness centre. At the Village we are looking to introduce Indian customs and traditions, which are same as Omani customs and traditions because India and Oman share a shared history of more than 5,000 years.
The Village will be owned by Little India and run by the Marriot hotel chain.
We are also starting the construction of 100 apartments which will be offered for sale. The construction would be started around May 2018 and would be completed by April 2019.
We would be investing $10mn for the proposed apartment project and $2mn for the resort venture.
It seems Duqm is still far from being fully developed as a city or tourism destination. Do you think Duqm will be ready for an ICT project of this stature and scale, by the time you will complete the construction?
Duqm is developing very fast. There are big opportunities with a lot of new companies and investors coming in and the refinery project being finalised.
Through Little India, we are also targeting Indian expatriates in Oman. When they retire at the age of 60, they will have another 20-30 productive years left which they would like to spend in Oman. Little India gives them an opportunity to buy an apartment for just RO30,000 which will enable them to get an Omani residency and stay here with their children. They need not relocate to India but could spend their productive years here and contribute to the national economy.
With a growing interest in Duqm, these projects would provide new opportunities for the development of Duqm, as well as create additional jobs.
What is the current status of Sebacic Oman? Where is the project expected to be commissioned?
Sebacic is in the commissioning stage. The construction is almost complete now. We will start full-fledged production by the end of February 2019. Once the production is in full swing, we have plans for expansion. We will be launching our next expansion by 2019 with another investment worth $250mn.
Your comment on India-Oman business relations?
Prospects are bright for Oman-India bilateral trade and business relations. India’s ambassador to the Sultanate, HE Indra Mani Pandey is really working hard to take it to the next level. In the recent Credit Suisse survey, India has been ranked third globally behind the US and China for its steady economic growth. I am very happy that Oman is very close to us and India-Oman relationship is getting strengthened more. That gives the opportunities for both countries to strengthen their business ties and bilateral trade.