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Duqm draws both tourists and investors

THE Duqm Special Economic Zone (SEZ) has a strategic location and attractive scenery, making it ideal for business and tourism investments.

Duqm SEZ stretches over an area of 1,745 sq km with 70km of coastline at a prominent location by the Arabian Sea. It is one of the region's largest economic zones and investors can gain access to high-density population markets in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and penetrate different markets.

Recently, however, tourism developments have been making headlines in Duqm. As one of Oman's flagship tourism projects, it is attracting attention as a top destination for tourists and investors. It offers diverse attractions including an 18km coastline of beautiful sandy beaches, with hotels, guest houses and chalets overlooking the Arabian Sea.

Infrastructure developments have also been keeping pace to ensure convenience for visitors. Duqm Airport has a capacity of 500,000 passengers a year and will be able to meet demand as the number of businesses, employment opportunities, tourist arrivals and newly located residents in the zone rise.

The most recent development this year has been the addition of Ras Markaz area to the Duqm SEZ, raising the total size of the economic zone from 1,745 square kilometres to 2,000 square kilometres. The Ras Markaz area will be developed to receive crude storage activities.

Oman Oil Company aims to develop Ras Markaz into a global crude storage terminal, with storage capacity of 6 million to 10 million barrels of oil in the first phase.

In addition, Duqm SEZ also signed this year a cooperation and land development agreement for the setting up of the Oman-China Industrial City at Duqm, with investment of US$10.7 billion and plans to accommodate 35 projects in an area of 1,172 hectares.

Another recent agreement signed in the zone is one with Al-Khonji Real Estate & Development, which was granted the right to develop a land area of approximately 661,000 square metres for a tourism and real estate project.

The project is expected to create nearly 4,000 direct jobs when it is completed. The first phase will include the construction of a three-star hotel expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019.

The project also includes the construction of a commercial complex, villas and residential units, which would be offered to both local and foreign investors, becoming the first project with units offered for sale in the Duqm SEZ.There is also an amusement park planned which is slated to begin operation by 2020 and health complexes which will be completed by 2022.

Duqm SEZ offers a variety of incentives to investors. These include a 30-year income tax exemption (renewable), exemption from customs tax on imports and exports from the zone, a 50-year land development (usufruct) right, also renewable, and full ownership by non-Omani entities.

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