Following on from the signing of a Letter of Intent between Omagine LLC and BNP Paribas in January this year, the project is moving towards starting construction, following on from years of design and preparatory work, said Drohan. Once completed the planned US$2.5bn (approx RO962mn), 1mn sq m site on the Seeb beachfront will feature a mix of cultural, heritage, educational, entertainment and residential components.
One of the most prominent design features in the Omagine ITC project will be a chain of seven pearl-shaped buildings which will line the promenade and be used to house exhibitions, performances, arts and crafts displays, and learning centres. The buildings will in time become icons for Oman, said Drohan.
“The seven pearls are really going to be magnificent, they will be the landmark of Oman, a monument to what the country stands for. We studied the top ten landmarks of the world when designing Omagine and we learned that they have to have a soul, they must represent something,” he said.
“This is going to be the best project for the Sultanate of Oman and people will flock to see it, it will be really fun and interesting. The concept is what you might think of in a theme park but it won’t be pop culture, it will be high culture.”
A key issue the developers and designers were mindful of was the need to capture the imagination of the young generation, which represent the majority of the population, said Drohan. By using the venues on-site as locations for exhibitions and arts, Omagine would help serve the community for years to come, he added.
“If you look at the Middle East region, the biggest problem is in the demography and we want to be able to do something significant. Omagine will have that ‘something’ to inspire young people and it will be a great place for the whole family to visit.
“The board walk will be cool with lots of greenery and a 15,000 seat amphitheatre which will be able to host concerts, performances, events and speeches. It’s going to be a multi-faceted venue. Although it is an integrated tourism complex it’s not necessarily just about hotels and houses, which are not something that people travel far to see. It is a magnificent site.”
Once completed, the site and facilities have the potential to become a sizeable source of job creation for locals, and ‘positive’ initial talks have been held with hospitality firms to move to the hotels planned for the complex, said Drohan.
“The construction process itself will see some thousands of people working on site and once completed will provide many jobs for Oman nationals. Everyone has creative genes and we really want to be able to find or inspire those in Oman who can go on to create the next Google.”