Muscat: A host of the most recognised names in the maritime industry have unveiled their timeline to commence activity at the Sohar Port and Freezone. Among them are the world's largest container shipping line, Maersk Line, as well as the renowned global shipping line, Safmarine.
Oman Container Lines, experts in ship owning, chartering and management as well as integrated logistics company, Hyundai Merchant Marine have also outlined their intentions.
The Oman government has set a deadline of August to ensure all commercial activities in Muscat to be transferred to Sohar Port and Freezone, now one of the world's largest port and free zone developments after an unparalleled period of growth in the last decade that has resulted in investments totalling $15 billion. Excellent infrastructure is in place and the forthcoming rail link will further improve operations.
A range of important developments have taken place within the port to ensure an easy transition. Most notably the relocation and expansion of HPH-led Oman International Terminal (OICT), this has ramped up container capacity to 1.5 million ten equivalent foot units (TEU). Other investments will take place in the expanded petrochemical cluster through Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries (Orpic) as well as parent company, Oman Oil Company. A combined capital investment of around $6.5 billion over five years is set to take place.
Cultural, historic hub
The move heralds a new beginning for Port Sultan Qaboos that will see the port become the focal point of the tourism industry with plans afoot to develop a world class marina, incorporating five-star accommodation and luxury shopping.
This will complement the already burgeoning cultural and historic hub and has the potential to follow the blueprint of commercial ports from around the world that have developed a tourism legacy — Cape Town, London, New York and Amsterdam, to name a few.
Sohar Port and Freezone chief executives Andre Toet and Jamal Aziz, both highlighted a commitment and drive for the future.
"Investment and growth go hand in hand at Sohar Port and Freezone. We are delighted to be working with some of the biggest and most recognised global names in the shipping industry. We have a strategy in place that will encourage growth and investment for years to come," said Andre Toet.
"We're now ready for anything; we've been working towards this momentous occasion for many years and look forward to a bright and prosperous future with many new partners," noted Jamal Aziz.