Oman reveals plans for new $2.4 billion mountain destination on Jabal Al Akhdar

The destination is expected to attract more than 8,000 residents and an average of 2,350 overnight visitors and 2,000 daily visitors.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning (MoHUP) in Oman has revealed the new Omani Mountain Destination (OMD) located on Jabal Al Akhdar. This development, situated at an altitude of 2,400 meters, will be the highest in Oman. The project, valued at $2.4 billion, is a significant part of Oman’s ambitious plan to invest over $33 billion in various projects.

The OMD has been masterplanned by AtkinsRéalis in consultation with local communities. It will feature 2,527 residential homes, 2,000 hospitality rooms within hotels, and a purpose-built health and wellness village called The Vessel. The destination is expected to attract more than 8,000 residents and an average of 2,350 overnight visitors and 2,000 daily visitors. Thanks to its elevated location, the area benefits from a pleasant climate, with an average yearly temperature of 22°C.

This project aligns with Oman’s Vision 2040, which aims to establish a developed, diversified, and sustainable national economy while ensuring fair distribution of development gains and the preservation of natural resources. The country has set a target of $51 billion in tourism investment by 2040, following a successful investment of $7.8 billion between 2021 and 2023. In addition, Oman is adopting a “cluster” approach to tourism, offering a range of unique experiences within easy reach to enrich the diversity and quality of its tourism offerings. The country aims to double tourism’s contribution to GDP to 5 percent by 2030 and further increase it to 10 percent by 2040.

Prioritizing social and environmental sustainability

In addition to its residential, retail, and hospitality components, the Jabal Al Akhdar project prioritizes social and environmental sustainability. It includes a biodiversity center for local and international research and development, dedicated health and wellness areas,a high-altitude sports training center, amphitheaters, a museum, parks, and public spaces.

Preserving the area’s existing ecology is a crucial aspect of the development. This includes an escarpment walk within a remote wilderness area that has been legally protected as a National Scenic Reserve. Such measures ensure minimal light pollution to maintain the destination’s Dark Sky Zone.

Wadi Al Harbi Park: A new recreational hub

The project also incorporates the new Wadi Al Harbi Park, which encompasses a new bridge, farming and agrotourism activities, family recreation facilities, and mountain biking and extreme sports amenities such as bungee jumping and rock climbing. Furthermore, the OMD will be serviced by a new cable car, and ongoing improvements to the area’s transportation infrastructure include a new access road from the north, allowing access for the two most populated governorates in the country, South and North Al Batinah.

Contextual design for sustainability

AtkinsRéalis’ contextual design for the OMD emphasizes whole-lifecycle sustainability through their award-winning approach called “Seed.” This approach focuses on environmental, cultural, and social well-being. Also, the destination aims to achieve net zero carbon in operations, rely on 100 percent renewable energy, and reduce embodied carbon by 40 percent. Moreover, approximately 85 percent of the destination will be pedestrianized, and extensive cycleways will be provided. The project also aims to preserve and enhance biodiversity by protecting existing 500-year-old native Juniper woodlands, Arabian Tahr, and other animal populations. Additionally, more than 90 percent of new plantings will consist of native species.

Oman reveals plans for new $2.4 billion mountain destination on Jabal Al Akhdar 2

Community engagement and collaboration

Furthermore, to ensure community involvement and cater to their needs and growth plans, the MoHUP has engaged and collaborated with local stakeholders in the surrounding communities. Public opinion surveys have been conducted to gather feedback and incorporate it into the project plans. A key objective of the project is to provide fair employment and economic opportunities for local residents throughout each phase of the project. Additionally, it is estimated that the OMD will create around 5,000 new jobs. Legislative changes have been implemented to enable the local Omani community to invest in and purchase land within the development, with 10 percent of the project area exclusively allocated for this purpose.

Celebrating nature and ecology

His Excellency Dr. Khalfan Al Shueili, minister of Housing and Urban Planning, said: “Today, we introduce our vision for the Omani Mountain Destination to the global community. This significant milestone brings us a step closer to delivering a new international destination that celebrates and protects Oman’s natural landscapes and ecology. Equally, it demonstrates our steadfast commitment to shaping a sustainable future for our nation. We look forward to welcoming international partners to work with us on this project. Together, we can create a destination that delivers prosperity for the local communities of the Jabal and the people of Oman for generations to come.”

Pioneering sustainable urban development

Ibrahim Al Waili, executive director of Urban National Strategy, said: “This flagship project represents our vision for Oman’s future as pioneers of sustainable urban development. The project delivery will be undertaken in a Special Planning Zone created to ensure the balance is maintained between heritage conservation and the implementation of future-facing infrastructure. Through its inception, we have refined valuable strategies in community engagement, stakeholder collaboration and environmental and cultural preservation that we are already using as the blueprint for future projects.”

Embracing nature’s intrinsic value

Davide Minniti, associate director Masterplanning / Urban Design of AtkinsRealis, said: “The Omani Mountain Destination (OMD) is a place of play, adventure and discovery. It balances three fundamental values: Nature, Culture and Future. The master plan recognises nature’s intrinsic value in everybody’s quality of life and well-being by blending its rugged landscape into each aspect of the project. Culture makes the OMD unique; the masterplan invites the global community to enjoy Oman’s calm way of life on the Jabal, its communities and the awe-inspiring landscapes. The OMD is a beacon of innovation – it looks to the future through smart solutions, an urban lifestyle centred around people, walkability and community spaces, and through the understated elegance of subtle design solutions along the wadis and escarpment. This project is the result of a collective effort across the visionary MoHUP, our design teams and the Jabal Al Akdhar communities.”

Source: economymiddleeast

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