Muscat: Freezone Sohar is set to start work on its second phase expansion, close on the heels of a tremendous response to its first phase development of 500 hectares, the company's chief executive officer Eng. Jamal T. Aziz told journalists here on Tuesday.
"Around 80 per cent of 500 hectares of land in the first phase has already been committed (or occupied) and some of the projects are in operation, some others are under construction and some are yet to start construction," he said, on the sidelines of an event to sign a land lease agreement with a United Kingdom-led consortium to build an antimony trioxide project in Sohar.
As many as 23 firms have committed to set up their manufacturing or logistics centre within the Sohar free zone. The first two phases are part of a master plan to develop around 4,500 hectares in four phases.
Sohar free zone attracts $500m investment
"The total value of investment of these projects is around half a billion dollar," he said.
Eng Aziz said part of some of the project like antinomy will come up in the area earmarked for second phase development.
The envisaged infrastructure development comprises civil work, levelling of land and other heavy infrastructure facilities, including roads.
"We will start with about 200-300 hectares of infrastructure development (in the second phase), which will go up to 500-600 hectares. We continue to develop infrastructure as we grow."
Eng Aziz also noted that as many as five ferro chrome projects are coming up at Sohar free zone and one company has already started operation, and others are either under construction or yet to start implementation.
Saying that Freezone Sohar has launched an aggressive marketing campaign in the region and in other international markets, he noted that this has resulted in encouraging response from foreign investors. "We hope that some of these will translate into projects," added Eng Aziz.
The strategic location, energy availability and a deepwater port make it a major attraction for investors to set up their base in Sohar. "We are focusing on Saudi Arabia as a target market because of high consumer demand."
Most of the investments in Sohar free zone, he said, are from India, either as 100 per cent investment or as joint venture partners.
"India is a huge country with lot of business opportunities for exports." India can further enhance their investments in ferrochrome, logistics, steel fabrication and re-rolling mills.
Referring to the availability of natural gas, Eng Al Aziz said the energy issue in Sohar is not critical.
"We have plenty of resources in Sohar that can replace natural gas, which include liquefied petroleum gas or electricity." Also, availability of natural gas can be enhanced by increasing efficiency and in the case of some projects, gas requirement is small.
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