A glance at the geopolitical map of the Arabian Peninsula underscores Duqm’s vantage location not only with regard to Oman, but also the wider region as a whole. Within the Oman context, Duqm today represents the gateway to the vast al Wusta Governorate of Oman, a seemingly endless desert expanse that is also home to the bulk of the Sultanate’s abundant hydrocarbon and mineral wealth. Port of Duqm thus serves as the key to accelerating the development of this untouched, yet promising, region of Oman. A further advantage is Duqm’s relative proximity to the vast markets of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – destinations that can be quickly accessed by road if traditional maritime routes through the Hormuz Straits are in any way imperiled.
Not surprisingly, this once quiet fishing town is now the focus of one of Oman’s biggest economic undertakings – centering on a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) underpinned by a modern multipurpose port and dry dock. Envisaged within this vast SEZ are clusters specially earmarked for investments related to, among others, refining and petrochemicals, heavy industry, light manufacturing, fish processing, tourism and leisure, mineral processing, and so on.
Also due to take shape within this vibrant industrial and economic hub is a new town designed to accommodate around 100,000 inhabitants. Modern amenities and utilities, including schools, healthcare centers, restaurants, entertainment facilities, and administrative services, will be an integral part of the town’s urban setting.
Duqm’s long-term potential is underlined by its mammoth size. Covering an area of 1,777 sq km, the Duqm SEZ – which incorporates the Port of Duqm – is by far the largest economic initiative in Oman’s modern history. In the initial phases, only the northern half of the SEZ is being taken in hand for development. This area in itself is large enough to cater to demand for land leases well into the 2035-40 timeframe. Development of the southern half of the SEZ will be pursued only thereafter, denoting thus the long-term vision underpinning this giant venture.