MAY 8, 2024

Strategy to transform Greater Muscat into globally competitive metropolis

The Greater Muscat Structure Plan (GMSP) is a visionary initiative that aims to provide a more focused spatial development strategy for the sprawling 1360km² metropolitan region of Muscat, a key project official has told the Observer.

Yaqoub al Harthi, Project Manager, said the Greater Muscat Structure Plan Project envisions a future where Greater Muscat evolves into a globally competitive metropolis. It confers upon Greater Muscat a crucial role in diversifying and upgrading Oman's export profile, by leveraging its functions in business, finance, logistics, and innovation.

"Muscat's evolution into a globally competitive metropolis is crucial for Oman's economic diversification efforts," said Al Harthi.

Rooted in the overarching vision of the Oman National Spatial Strategy, the GMSP seeks to strengthen and promote sustainable design in the urban environment. According to the official, the GMSP set outs a roadmap for economic diversification, poised to foster job creation, talent attraction, and investments across knowledge-based services and innovation-oriented industries. Central to its mission is the strategic categorization of Greater Muscat's existing 15 clusters and economic districts into four primary categories, each tailored to harness the region's inherent strengths and opportunities.

At its core, the GMSP aligns with the broader objectives of the Oman National Spatial Strategy, anchoring its vision in sustainable urban development and spatial planning. By providing a comprehensive framework for focused spatial development, the project not only aims to propel Greater Muscat into a globally competitive metropolis but also to serve as a catalyst for broader socioeconomic advancement across Oman.

The GMSP anticipates significant economic expansion within Greater Muscat, driven by the generation of numerous new and improved employment opportunities. This expansion is expected to be achieved through heightened participation in the workforce, increased productivity, and a shift towards higher-value industries.

"By 2040, we anticipate total employment within Greater Muscat to reach 1.83 million, representing an annual growth rate of 4.1% from its current level of 890 thousand in 2022," Al Harthi stated.

The GMSP actively supports key economic sectors through tailored district and cluster development initiatives. By granting these districts special economic privileges and providing them with necessary resources, the plan aims to bolster their global competitiveness.

"Beyond mere concentration, fostering dynamic ecosystems and value chains is expected to bolster productivity and innovation across economic sectors," Al Harthi noted.

Currently, Greater Muscat's economy employs approximately 890,000 individuals, predominantly in construction, retail, and manufacturing sectors. However, there is an emphasized need to transition towards more digitally integrated and environmentally sustainable models.

"Greater Muscat aims to redefine its urban economy in alignment with Oman Vision 2040 and global trends. The future economy will cater to rising global demand for green products and services, mitigating the risk of reliance on products with diminishing future demand and high emissions," he explained.

To drive sustained economic growth in Greater Muscat, the city’s integration with the global economy needs to be enhanced, the official said. In this regard, he outlines three primary pillars: emphasis on connectivity infrastructure, focus on attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into strategic sectors, and implementation of internationalization initiatives.

"Customized support programmes tailored for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) will be essential. These initiatives may include activities such as brand development, participation in international trade fairs, assistance with market feasibility reports, and provision of export credits," Al Harthi stressed.

"To thrive, Greater Muscat must develop an economy that produces goods and services valuable both domestically and internationally, attracting individuals to participate in its growth," he added in conclusion.