Opinion: Oman’s metro rail project is a step to develop a knowledge-based economy

    08 Aug 2021

    Plans are underway to set up a metro network that will connect Ruwi and Muttrah to Muscat International Airport and Seeb, Gulf News reports.

    The metro will be one of the main transport arteries of a new, revitalised Muscat, which will have Ghala as the centre of its commercial activities, as per the Oman National Spatial Strategy blueprint that looks at the planning of the country’s cities for the next 20 years. The network is part of the Urban Revitalisation and Regeneration Projects (URRP).

    The URPP will focus on areas such as Muttah and Ruwi. Areas that could be subject to expansion projects include the Airport Zone and Ghala, research facilities in places such as Al Khoud and Halban and industrial zones in Misfah and Rusayl.

    Development of metro stations will also augur similar developmental plans around it such as retail stores, offices and residential pockets. Plans have also been envisaged to convert the Wadis spread in Muscat to be turned into interesting recreational places such as parks and walkways.

    The ONSS plans in the pipeline also include passenger rail service apart from the metro, that will connect Seeb to Sohar, the capital of the North Al Batinah Governorate, providing easier access to the towns in between.

    The government of Oman has drawn up a plans to build a metro network that would connect Muscat with its international airport.

    The metro, Oman’s first rail system, would link the airport with the commercial hub of Ruwi, the administrative centre of Muttrah and the coastal town of Seeb, 20km northwest of Muscat, International Railway Journal reports.

    The project would be part of Oman’s Urban Revitalisation and Regeneration Projects (URRP), which sets a framework for economic development over the next 20 years, as well as the Oman National Spatial Strategy (ONSS), the national planning strategy.

    The aim is to use the metro to spur more commercial and residential development around its stations. Plans have also been put forward to convert Muscat’s numerous wadis – desert canyons – into parks.

    There are also plans for the country’s first passenger rail service, which would connecting Seeb with the port city of Sohar, about 120km northwest of Muscat, Rail Journal states.

    This would be part of Oman’s National Railway Project, which envisages a 2,100km system linking it with the UAE in the north and Yemen in the south.

    In what way new Omani metro way influences carbon footprint?

    We’ve got an opinion by Reena Abdulrahman, the Chief Operating Officer of Alhind Travel and Tours for GCC and Africa, about the eco-importance of this prohect. Reena has over 21 years of experience working with top airlines in the region. Let’s check her thoughts published here.

    Since the country has embarked on a multi-pronged strategy for an economic resurgence, this project would redefine the character of Muscat city.

    A country that never witnessed the sight or sound of the chugging of the train so far, Oman is all set to revolutionize its urban landscape and connectivity with the metro rail network, which the government is planning under Oman National Spatial Strategy (ONSS).

    Since the country has embarked on a multi-pronged strategy for an economic resurgence, this project would redefine the character of the place, not just its skyline, under 2040 Vision, thus making Muscat a global city in all aspects.

    Of course, it would take time to execute a mammoth project that requires huge investment, state-of-the-art technology and manpower, and it will be developed in a phased manner over the next two decades. After all, Rome was not built in a day.

    A country that never witnessed the sight or sound of the chugging of the train so far, Oman is all set to revolutionize its urban landscape and connectivity with the metro rail network, which the government is planning under Oman National Spatial Strategy (ONSS).

    Since the country has embarked on a multi-pronged strategy for an economic resurgence, this project would redefine the character of the place, not just its skyline, under 2040 Vision, thus making Muscat a global city in all aspects.

    Of course, it would take time to execute a mammoth project that requires huge investment, state-of-the-art technology and manpower, and it will be developed in a phased manner over the next two decades. After all, Rome was not built in a day.

    The project envisaged as of now includes a rail line that connects Seeb and Sohar and a light metro between Ruwi and Seeb. The high-speed connectivity is expected to develop new business hubs, and here the Ghala area of Muscat is expected to benefit the most.

    What makes the metro project more attractive is that it goes well with the sustainable urban development plan of Oman, aimed at bringing about socio-economic upsurge while retaining the ecology and cultural ethos.

    Unlike the run-of-the-mill transportation system, the metro rail network has the potential to ‘decentralize’ the development, because there would be many stations in one rail link and smaller business hubs would develop around these stations. This would naturally generate more employment opportunities as well.

    Moreover, Oman’s development goals are set in diverse areas, as the country aims to explore new avenues other than the existing oil-based economy. In order to develop such an economic base rooted on innovation and a new global outlook, the new metro project would be highly beneficial. Naturally, this would also benefit the sectors including tourism and logistics if designed and implemented with a futuristic vision.

    Oman is one of the most livable places in the Gulf countries thanks to its climate, scenic beauty and pristine environment. Normally, development is likely to cast a shadow on the ecology but, the authorities here are very clear about it and they make sure the development should not be at the cost of the environment.

    That is why this project is seen as a step to develop a knowledge-based economy rather than developing polluting industries that increase the carbon footprint. The improved connectivity would definitely develop new tourist destinations. Even the people who have the facility for remote working might opt for Muscat as their base. If cozy work stations are developed in the tourism destinations, even the job hours would give a relaxed feel to such work force, and it would benefit the country’s economy in the long run.

    This way the capital city and its surroundings could develop into new engines of economic growth and decentralized development.

    One of the biggest assets of an economy is to have a comfortable public transport system that would reduce the dependence on private vehicles. The metro project is a major step in that direction. Also, when a city develops, the population density is bound to increase. This means we have to develop new residential settlements, and the metro network would facilitate this in a more effective way because people can commute to farther destinations in a speedy and comfortable manner.

    That is why it is said that the metro project is not just about connectivity. It is actually connecting us to a new world where speed matters a lot, of course in a silent manner.

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