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Spatial development: International consultants sought to masterplan and design sustainable cities in alignment with Oman Vision 2040 and also UN SDG goals

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning has kicked off an ambitious initiative to support the development of ‘Smart Cities’ in three major locations of the Sultanate of Oman: Suhar, Nizwa and Salalah.

To this end, the Ministry has invited international urban engineering consultancy firms to bid for a trio of contracts for the development of designs and masterplans linked to the establishment of Smart Cities in the three locations.

The initiative stems from a landmark Oman National Spatial Strategy (ONSS) first unveiled by the Ministry in March 2021. Billed as “the essential enabler for the implementation of Oman Vision 2040”, the Spatial Strategy sets out a broad framework for urban growth in the country over the next 20 years. It also seeks to ensure that key national cities remain competitive and their growth aligned with the UN Goals for Sustainable Development 2030.

One of the many national-level and governorate-level priorities set out in the Spatial Strategy calls for the establishment of “smart, sustainable and vibrant cities” suitably designed to sustain a high quality of life, work and leisure. These Smart Cities will be underpinned by “diversified and easily accessible means of transport, integrated with sound and targeted urban planning and sustainable world-class infrastructure”.

In conceptualising and master-planning the new Smart Cities, the selected consultants will take inspiration from, among other resources, The Smart City Platform launched by authorities last year. Besides stressing the need for physical infrastructure in the form of roads and utilities, the Platform also emphasises the importance of digital infrastructure, such as broadband penetration and communication networks. This is seen as key to supporting business, academia and innovators, while also providing a key attraction to foreign investors looking to tap into the potential of these cities.

While the Smart Cities proposed at Suhar, Nizwa and Salalah are essentially national-level endeavours, some small-scale and pilot Smart City ventures have already been initiated in the Sultanate of Oman.

Notable is the example of Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), which had signed an agreement last year with an Omani firm specialising in the Internet of Things (IoT), to implement a Smart City pilot at its Ras Al Hamra residential and leisure community in Muscat. The initiative aims to reduce the environmental footprint and improve the quality of living of its inhabitants.

Tilal Al Irfan, constituting the first phase of Madinat Al Irfan — the Sultanate of Oman’s City of the Future’ in Muscat Governorate — is proposed to be the country’s first truly smart city. Promoted by Majid Al Futtaim Communities, Tilal Al Irfan is envisioned as a thriving commercial and residential destination that will accommodate as many as 50,000 residents living in 11,000 contemporary homes and apartments. Services and amenities will include a business park, education facilities, healthcare and community recreation centres, a central market town square and an entertainment and hospitality precinct.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Conrad Prabhu

Quelle/Source: Oman Daily Observer, 14.06.2022

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