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Oman, Qatar plan $160m bus assembly unit in joint venture



Muscat: An agreement for establishing a bus assembly unit in Oman was signed between Oman Investment Fund (OIF) and Mowasalat, national transport company of Qatar, here on Thursday.

The facility, which will be the first such a large unit in the Sultanate, will be constructed on one million square meters of land in Al Mudhaibi in the Al Sharqiyah region with an investment of $160 million, Khalid Al Yahmadi, OIF general manager, told Times of Oman.

"Initially, it will start with assembly and later on will be turned into a full-fledged production facility. So, we will start with complete knock down (CKD) now. We will get the parts from the suppliers and will assemble the buses," said Al Yahmadi.

Once operated, the unit will assemble 2,000 buses every year, he noted, adding that the target markets are Oman, other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and North Africa.

"OIF is putting 30 per cent of the total equity which is around $48 million and Mowasalat of Qatar is putting about $112 million," added Al Yahmadi.

According to him, construction is expected to start within six months and the facility will be completed in two years after the start of construction.

The agreement is a great step towards the development of Oman's auto industry, Al Yahmadi added.

"(As many as) 400 to 500 jobs will be created for the locals once the facility is launched, and at least 200 people will be working on site during the construction phase," he noted.

Milestone agreement
Speaking to Times of Oman, Khalid Al Hail, Mowasalat's chief executive officer, hailed the agreement as a milestone in Qatar-Oman cooperation and said it will serve the interests of both countries.

This 'strategic' project will help utilise the potential of the Omani youth, Al Hail said.

According to him, the facility will initially assemble 1,800 buses and the maximum capacity of the unit is 2,500 buses.

An average of 2,000 buses will be assembled per year in two eight-hour shifts a day and the figure can reach 2,500 if the personnel work in three shifts, he noted.

Commenting on bilateral relations, Al Hail said that the relationship is based on 'goodwill' and Qatar is keen to invest more in the Sultanate.

To get in touch with the reporter: elham@timesofoman.com

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