Plans revealed for new $2.4bn Omani Mountain Destination

Muscat, Oman. Image © Anfal Shamsudeen / Unsplash
Oman has revealed plans for the creation of the new Omani Mountain Destination (OMD) on Jabal al Akhdar, making it Oman’s highest altitude development at 2,400m.

The sustainable development will be Net Zero Carbon in operation and include a Dark Sky Zone, high-altitude sports training facility, and international biodiversity R&D centre.

A part of Oman Vision 2040

Oman Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning (MoHUP) has announced plans to develop this site, situated 95 miles from Muscat, as a part of the nation’s projected pipeline of projects worth over $33bn. The project is now seeking investment partners in line with the Sultanate’s target of increasing foreign investment to 10 percent of GDP.

The development has been master-planned by AtkinsRéalis and is designed in consultation with the local communities. As well as integrating a 2,000-key hotel offering, the development will encompass 2,527 homes and The Vessel health and wellness village.

Omani Mountain Destination is a key part of the Oman Vision 2040, which is driving the development, diversification and sustainability of the national economy. The nation has targeted $51bn in tourism investment by 2040 as the country aims to double tourism’s contribution to GDP to 5 percent by 2030 and to 10 percent by 2040.

On the project, His Excellency Dr. Khalfan Al Shueili, Minister of Housing and Urban Planning, commented: “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.”

A sustainable new destination

Representative of the development’s focus on social and environmental sustainability, the site will encompass a biodiversity centre, dedicated health and wellness areas, a high-altitude sports training centre, amphitheatres, museum and parks. A highlight of the development will be the new Wadi Al Harbi Park for agrotourism and activities such as mountain biking.

To preserve the existing ecology, the site will feature an escarpment walk in an area designated a National Scenic Reserve, which, with low light pollution, will also protect the destination’s status as a Dark Sky Zone.

The site has been developed according to AtkinsRéalis’ whole-lifecycle sustainability approach, known as Seed, focusing on environmental, cultural and social wellbeing. The destination aims to be Net Zero Carbon in operation with 100 percent renewable energy. As much as 85 percent of the site will be pedestrianised and efforts will be made to preserve and enhance biodiversity.

As a part of this project, the OMD will develop a new cable car, while also improving other transport infrastructure in the area. For this project, MoHUP has collaborated with local stakeholders in the surrounding communities to ensure the site meets community needs.

Ibrahim Al Waili, CEO of Oman National Spatial Strategy (ONSS), 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.”

Davide Minniti, Associate Director Masterplanning / Urban Design of AtkinsRealis, added: “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.”