Muscat – The Ministry of Heritage and Tourism (MHT) has initiated a plan to develop five heritage sites in North Batinah and South Batinah to attract tourists and stimulated the sector.
A statement issued by MHT said, ‘The ministry is looking to partner with the private sector for managing and developing castles and fortification walls for three years.’
The ministry has floated five tenders for the management and development of Al Suwaiq Castle, Sur al Hilal Wall and Sur al Maghabsha Wall in the wilayat of Suwaiq and Liwa Fort in the wilayat of North Batinah, and Bait al Nuaman Fort in South Batinah.
Sur al Hilal and Sur al Maghabsha are fortification walls built during the reign of Said bin Sultan al Said in the 19th century.
The ministry informed that the competing companies must submit a plan that includes how to market the castles and the walls commercially and culturally, hold cultural workshops, organise artistic and cultural events, and introduce activities to revive the heritage sites. ‘Competing companies must highlight the architectural uniqueness of the castle, fort and the wall and involve the local community in various cultural and social events.’
Al Suwaiq Fort is characterised by its round towers in three corners. The fort is 60m in length and 43m wide. It has a small fortress in the western side which was built for the governor with mud, stones and plaster. It was renovated in 1992 by the then Ministry of Heritage and Culture.
Bait al Nuaman Fort is one of the most notable historical tourist attractions in the wilayat of Barka and was built in the 17th century.
Liwa Castle is located on a hill in the wilayat of Liwa near Hilla al Hosn northwest of Sohar. It is 58m in length and 75m wide.
The castle is surrounded by a wall 330m long and 8m high. It has a theatre, offices, guardrooms, toilets and wells. The Ministry of Heritage and Culture restored the fort in 1994.
As many as 426,500 people visited forts and castles in the country in 2019, registering an increase of 16.4 per cent compared to 2018, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information.
Of the total visitors, 251,080 were foreign tourists, according to statistics of MHT, which continues to develop these historical structures that are distinguished by architectural diversity.
According to MHT, it is focused on the implementation of a number of programmes and initiatives of the Omani Tourism Strategy (2016–2040), including the development of 14 tourist projects across various governorates which take into account the elements of sustainability, empowerment of local communities, and enhancing their role in protecting their cultural heritage and customs for posterity.