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Oman's Sur Gate Project to offer jobs, better services
Muscat: Residents of Sur will soon have more job opportunities and they won't have to drive as far to go shopping, relax in posh coffee shops, and have fun playing games like bowling, thanks to the Sur Gate Project, currently being built near the city's industrial area.

Speaking with Times of Oman, Yasser Al Alawi, Managing Director of Al Sharqiya Real Estate and Development which is developing the project, said the multipurpose integrated complex will include a shopping mall, hypermarket, entertainment facilities, residential zone and a four-star hotel, resulting in many new jobs and easy access to products and services previously unavailable in Sur.

"We expect to offer 400 to 500 job opportunities after the project is completed and it will definitely have a direct impact on the local community. We are in touch with the director of the Ministry of Manpower in Sur to supply Omani manpower for the project, whether in the construction or post-construction," Al Alawi explained.

Currently the building of the first phase, City Walk, which will have entertainment, food and retail outlets, is under construction. Al Alawi said he hopes this will be completed by November 2015. They are working primarily with local SMEs to do the construction, which is already benefitting the local economy, he said.

Once construction is complete and the business begins to fill the retail spaces, Al Alawi hopes they will establish relations with the local Ministry of Manpower offices and the colleges and training centres in Sur so they can hire locals. "Sur is in need of some commercial projects. There is a lack of certain services and certain products for the local community and the local workforce in Sur," he noted.

The hypermarket and other retail outlets will reduce the need for people to drive to Muscat to buy the things they need. It will also serve nearby communities like Ras Al Hadd, Jalan, Al Kamil and Quriyat, added Al Alawi.

The residential development will benefit companies at the Sur Industrial Estate such as Oman LNG, which needs to lease more villas and apartments for their employees The development will also complement other industrial and transportation developments, such as the Ras Al Hadd airport.

Al Alawi's family is from Sur and although he grew up in Muscat, he spends many weekends and holidays there. He says there are beautiful tourist places to visit outside the city, but Sur itself is lacking in entertainment options.

"We find a lack of services, a lack of entertainment. There is a cinema and a children's play area that opened recently, but till now these are the only ones so we want to play a role and offer something to our hometown," he said, noting that the City Walk would include a bowling alley.

Another void Al Alawi hopes the development will fill is for meeting, conference and convention space near the Sur Industrial Estate. The hotel will have facilities which they can use, he explained.

Al Alawi said he would also like to collaborate with the companies in Sur to do CSR projects once City Walk opens, and organise some activities of their own.

"Even the local companies there are talking to us and they did convey their need to serve the community. Some of them have already done a lot. We have a moral responsibility towards our hometown. We want to make something special that will make a difference," he said.

The long-term vision includes the possibility of building an international school and an international hospital, too, he said.

Al Alawi added the local community has responded positively to the development. Members of the community, representatives from the wilayat and government have expressed a lot of interest and made many enquiries about it.

"They are really looking forward to it. They are desperate for the project to come, especially the commercial part of it. There is a real need, especially for the services and the hotel and hypermarket. There is a very good future for this," he said.