By Kabeer Yousuf -
One of the most ambitious tourism projects currently under way in Oman, the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC), is undoubtedly expected to be opening Oman to the world and the world to Oman while creating a place for global exchange of ideas, innovations and connections.
The groundwork, mountain blasting, surveying, earth-levelling are more than 90 per cent over, according to Eng Wael bin Ahmed al Lawati, CEO, Omran, the national tourism development company which delivers major projects and manages tourism assets and investments, said.
Omran is mandated by the Government of Oman to deliver major projects and manage tourism assets and investments.
This is in line with the Government’s vision of positioning tourism as a major economic driver of the future and as a generator of employment.
The aims of the government by initiating the OCEC project will be achieved by hosting significant international, regional and local conventions, exhibitions, meetings, concerts and special events that may not have been possible without this world-class development.
On completion, the Project will be a focus for business and tourism‚ creating hundreds of local jobs and attracting visitors from around the world.
Recently, Omran celebrated another safety milestone with the completion of 750,000 man-hours without any lost time injury (LTI) at the construction site of the OCEC.
The accomplishment marked the successful completion of the site-wide enabling works for internal roads and utilities in line with Omran’s mission to create a Zero Harm workplace.
“This exceptional achievement demonstrates the level of team work demonstrated by each and every one on site to ensure the highest standards of occupational health and safety management,” Eng Wael bin Ahmed al Lawati said on the occasion, adding, “Despite the challenging physical and climatic conditions, our team has managed to succeed through concerted efforts.”
He added, “At Omran, we are committed to operating with foresight and with a safety conscious mindset. This outstanding milestone gives everyone involved a feeling of great accomplishment, pride and sustained motivation to lead by example as we continue to develop, manage, operate and bring new projects to life.”
Located in the Hayy Al Ifran district just four kilometres from Muscat International Airport, OCEC is architecturally advanced in design and capability. This world-class venue will be among the first to be built to meet the rigorous LEED Certification by the US Green Building Council.
“The Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre Project consists of two major components”, says Saleh al Wahaibi, Project Manager, OCEC, Omran. “The development of the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre and a fully integrated purpose-built precinct. Moreover, the OCEC will be built to the rigorous US Green Building Council's LEED Certification”.
Underlining what Saleh said, the design of the Centre will ensure a flow of the meetings space to suit the most discerning conference and exhibition organisers. It also incorporated expansive concourse areas to enable ease of large delegations with floor to ceiling windows overlooking landscaped gardens and water features.
The Centre will feature an elaborate tiered auditorium to seat 3,200 while the exhibition halls will feature 22,000 square metres of column-free exhibition space. Halls 1 and 2 will have a superior fit out, specialised acoustic treatment, advanced lighting and rigging requirements to act as a multi-purpose space for plenary sessions, concerts, performances, gala events on a larger scale of up to 10,000 seated, theatre-style. The Centre will also include an additional 14 meeting rooms for 70 to 360 delegates, two well-appointed ballrooms to seat up to 2,360, VIP Pavilion, a spacious food-court and a multi-storey carpark with capacity for 4,000 vehicles.
The Precinct will provide the infrastructure necessary to host successful international, regional and local events and for the enjoyment of the community. These include a five star hotel linked to the convention centre, two four star, and a three star hotel and apartments with a combined total of 1,000 rooms. A business park, retail shopping mall surrounded by a natural sighting which will be a haven for Oman’s exotic birdlife, parklands and wadi (valley) park are also part of this picturesque precinct.
OCEC debuts at the GIBTM
In March this year, the OCEC had made its debut at GIBTM, the Gulf’s premier meetings industry trade show which showcases the venue to key international and Gulf region decision-makers, held in Abu Dhabi. “Our message to these decision-makers is that Oman is constructing a world-class venue and precinct that will have the capacity to host some of the world’s and region’s most prestigious events that may have not been possible previously", Geoff Donaghy, Director of Convention Centres for AEG Ogden, the manager of the Oman Centre had said.
“Not only will this inspirational project open the world to Oman, it will open Oman to the world of business events," he said.
“We are encouraged by the interest already shown by the international decision-makers and key Omani stakeholders in staging future events in Muscat. Our preliminary research and sales activities have identified business as far ahead as 2024,” Donaghy added.
The other partners associated with the OCEC project are: WATG (Master planner, and Architect), RMJM and SSHI (Engineering Consultant), WATG and STRATA Landscape (Landscape Consultant), Bureau Veritas (LEED Consultant).