Muscat: An OMR7.5 million aquarium at Seeb harbour, the first of its kind in the Sultanate, will be the biggest ever 'Gift to the Nation' by Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).
The project will include an educational centre and will be spread over across 17,000 square metres. It is expected to be completed in late 2015 or early 2016.
PDO's latest 'Gift to the Nation' was announced during a ceremony held here yesterday under the auspices of Minister of Oil and Gas Dr Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rumhi.
During the event, PDO Managing Director Raoul Restucci signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) committing to the scheme with Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Dr Fuad bin Ja'afar
The company has a long tradition of marking every five years of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said's rule with such endowments. Other gifts include the Oil and Gas Exhibition Centre, Planetarium, the EcOman Centre, the Public Knowledge Library and the Traffic Safety Institute.
The aquarium project, which will mark the 45th anniversary of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said's reign next year, includes a range of features such as specialised viewing tanks, interactive activities and guided tours.
Another central aspect of the building will be a research division for all fisheries studies by Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries staff, universities and other specialists.
PDO's largest Gift to the Nation investment will showcase the rich biodiversity, habitat and species found in the Sultanate's waters and aims to appeal to both international tourists and Omani citizens.
In a speech at the function, Restucci said, "The centre will focus on the Sultanate's marine ecosystems and ecology, the sustainability of these resources and how they can be safeguarded for the future. The aim is to stock many of the more than 1,000 species which are in Omani waters in an installation which will be interesting, fun and informative.
"One of the key aims is to enable children to experience and learn more about the country's maritime heritage, its rich marine environment and the importance of the sea to the nation. We aim to strike a good balance between entertainment and education."
Speaking to reporters, Restucci said that the company will start construction work as soon as possible. The heavy construction phase will be in the first quarter of 2015 and the work can be completed in 12 to 15 months, he noted.
According to him, the vast majority of the area, around 80 per cent, will be covered by the
Speaking to the Times of Oman, Dr Hamad Said Al Oufi, undersecretary of fisheries wealth, hailed the project as an important step towards exploring "the treasures of the deep seas."