Hillside homes

Oman's largest oil and gas company has begun redevelopment in Muscat

Ras Al Hamra Beach, the current PDO staff social club , north towards Jazirat al Fahl island in the Gulf of Oman.
Ras Al Hamra Beach, the current PDO staff social club , north towards Jazirat al Fahl island in the Gulf of Oman.

Oman’s largest oil and gas company has begun redevelopment at its main residential area for staff in Muscat. Within a decade it will offer homes and tourist accommodation. By Gary Wright

More than 1,600 construction workers are currently deployed in the coastal estate of Ras Al Hamra which is owned by Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).

The project site covers 280 hectares in the hills overlooking the Gulf of Oman on the northernmost tip of Muscat where the redevelopment programme will be carried out in phases expected to take up to nine years before completion.

Many of the buildings at the site were built in the 1960s but the multi-million USD development has been organised to cause minimum disruption to existing residents in the mountain site and preserve the terrain – approximately 60% or more of the trees onsite are being conserved and replanted.

Initial groundwork began a year ago but teams of contractors are now working around the clock.

Abdul-Amir Ajmi is PDO’s Ras Al Hamra Project Manager who explained why the majority state-owned oil producer decided to revamp the area to benefit both Omani and expat employees.

He said: “There is an increasingly urgent need to develop the Ras Al Hamra residential area’s aged housing stock and other facilities, which are key to employee attraction and retention as part of PDO’S Employee Value Proposition.

“It is also recognised that the RAH area is a prime site in the context of the nation’s tourism aspirations.”

Ras Al Hamra offers a beautiful and rugged location, which 50 years ago was a convenient area in which to provide housing for workers in the oil industry because of its proximity to the Mina Al Fahal refinery and coastal headquarters office facilities

Through a tender process, KEO International Consultants has completed the project’s master plan, detail design for all of phase 1, and a large portion of phase 1a.

Phase 1 construction management and supervision was awarded to Halcrow Middle East, with Al Turki Enterprises the principle contractor for phase 1 construction and the golf course development has been recently awarded to Proscape.

Attracting skilled experienced employees to the area was a high priority for PDO, he explained. “The design brief was to master-plan the development in a way which maximised the EVP (employee value proposition) for existing and future employees.

The brief also highlighted environmental and sustainability concerns, to be innovative while remaining sensitive to the traditions of Oman, and to achieve the highest standards of design, construction and finish in Oman today.”

Quality is a key part of the redevelopment, he said, bringing a wider benefit to the whole community as well as sustainability and materials that minimise the use of energy (see separate panel).

Al Ajmi commented: “The facilities that this project will provide are designed to raise the standard of living specifically within the PDO community.

Innovative design and construction supports sustainability and encourages the development and success of Omani industries through specific in-country value (ICV) elements.

“ICV is extremely important in the Ras Al Hamra project. The concept has been introduced to all contracts within PDO and is carefully monitored to ensure strict compliance. Our locally sourced prime components include steel, concrete, cement, electrical cabling, conduit, PVC piping, stone, etc.”

The project will see 1,067 villas and townhouses built across 250 hectares and there will be 60% open space. There will be a nine-hole golf course, playable as 18 holes, with clubhouse facilities.

There is a recreation club for employees at Ras Al Hamra Beach and this will be replaced with new facilities and a 50-bed guest house will be incorporated.
Al Ajmi said: “We are installing new infrastructure and utilities including a mosque, a new medical clinic and a primary school as well as parks, landscaping and road improvements.”

Phase 1 is residential and education, Phase 1a is residential, club and golf course, medical clinic and road dualisation, Phase 2 is residential and Phase 3 is residential plus a 5-star hotel.

Al Ajmi explained the sources of funding: “Phase 1 and 1a are specifically PDO capital investments, phases 2 and 3 are a combination of PDO capital and some approved external / governmental investors.

“The Ras Al Hamra Project is actually a large and complex series of projects which has developed substantially since it began. This project, when complete, will have taken perhaps seven to nine years – and throughout that time we will endeavour to remain sensitive to the changing needs of PDO, Ras Al Hamra and its people.”

There is a lot talked about the environment but PDO is determined to ensure the impact on the area is minimal.

“At the very start of the project an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was carried out,” said Al Ajmi. “All design and construction will comply with the recommendations and undertakings identified in the EIA report to ensure it is sensitive to environmental and sustainability matters – this is a key driver in our design process.”

For the future, PDO intends to offer investment opportunities on the site, but did not reveal further details.

Al Ajmi said: “Investment opportunities will be offered to some government entities and pension funds. The private sector will benefit by participating in the design, management, construction and maintenance tender process.”

Facts:
- 1,067 Villas being built at Al Hamra
- 65 Percentage of trees replanted
- 280 Overall size of development in hectares

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