The relationship between Oman and China appears to becoming closer. China had a bumpy start in projects in Oman; its companies were involved the initial states of the Wastewater project
which must have been a steep learning curve for both parties as it stopped more than once. China then was the contractor for half of the Quriyyat-Sur highway where a slightly smoother way went forward, which included co-operation with the local village by providing some facilities for them.
Confidence must have grown considerably since then, or probably Oman was a very good fit for China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ / ‘Belt and Road’ initiative . China is now a major investor in Ad Duqm (Duqm SEZA)
through Oman Wanfang LLC, a Chinese company, which will develop 1,172 hectares of land adjacent to Ad Duqm’s port. It will also bring in a number of projects including vehicle assembly.
I speculated in April that the Port of Duqm was to be a key link in this Belt and Road project as it will be a central pivot of Chinese ports in the Arabian Sea.
Gwader in Pakistan is the northern side of Duqm’s chain. The port at Gwader would be an exit/entry onto the Karakoram Highway to China which circumvents Singapore and the Straits of Malacca.
Gwader was, until 1959, ruled by Oman and a result of Oman’s connection with Pakistan is that there always had been a substantial proportion of Oman’s population with links there.
The southern side would be in Africa, however the preferred port at Bagamoyo had stalled for a couple of years. This project has now had a key document signed and does appear to be moving forward with Oman appearing to be taking a larger role in the management.
The project over some US$10Billion should have construction start in January 2018 with completion expected in 2022. The port of Bagamoyo , north of Dar es Salaam at Mlingotini (currently a rural / leisure area) may become the largest in East Africa with supporting infrastructure including rail needed to link with existing networks. There is an exisiting Chinese operated rail link from Dar As Salaam into Zambia, however there is not linkage to the Atlantic, where Luanda (or perhaps less likly Kinshasa) might be targets. The focus of the port will probably be an import/export operation, ideal for China as it seeks new markets.
As with Gwader, Oman was once involved in what was Tanganyika (also at one time called German East Africa) and Zanzibar, the two key constituents in modern Tanzaniya, indeed Zanzibar was the effective capital of Oman in the early 19thc.
This re-launch of the project will mean that the Port of Duqm can move forward with more confidence in its own projects. This will spread into China’s other partners in the region and doubtless draw in other major investors.
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