Fearing that oil reserves may one day fail to support its economy and growing population, the Gulf Sultanate of Oman is investing billions of dollars in a massive tourist resort near the Arabian sea coast.
On Saturday, Oman’s quest to draw tourists was unveiled in plans to construct "The Blue City" (Al-Madina Al-Zarqa), an ambitious $15-billion tourism project inspired by the success of large-scale building in neighbouring Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Ruled by Sultan, the Muslim country is perched on the eastern edge of the Arabian peninsula, bordered by Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the UAE.
Characterised by hundreds of kilometres of beaches, stunning natural scenery, rugged mountains and baking deserts, Oman saw its fledgling tourist industry take a hard blow after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States.
Construction on "The Blue City" is to begin by the end of 2005 and last for 15 years.
The plan follows in the footsteps of a construction-frenzy in nearby Dubai, where developers are building what they call "the world’s biggest waterfront development."
"Dubai Waterfront" is touted as an 81-million-square-metre beachfront landmark that will be larger than Manhattan, Dubai property developers say.