Sunday, October 10, 2010

Here we are, on the 10th of October, with 59 days to go until the launch of the Muscat Asian Beach Games.

The clock is ticking, and work is well under way at the venues, and I have faith that the facilities will be completed on time for the games - just in time.

But I have learned some rather disturbing pieces of information in recent weeks. There is no way for me to fully verify them and so I'm sure there will be additional pieces of information to this story that may make it more understandable... please do comment.

Have you tried to book a hotel in Muscat during the games? You may find it hard to do so as many hotels have had their rooms block-booked by the Ministry of Tourism. Why have they done this? They did this to accommodate the more than 1500 registered athletes from 45 countries who are due to compete in the games. The nice hotel and apartment building that has been built at the main facility is not going to accommodate any of the athletes - it's all being used by VIP's and sponsors - I guess that makes sense, because then you'd be into a favouritism argument if one team gets accommodation over another team, etc. etc.

In fact, of the 7 athlete accommodation buildings that were planned, only 1 has been built. Of a reported $100,000,000 budget assigned to the MABGOC (Muscat Asian Beach Games Organizing Committee), reportedly over 80% of it has been spent on the hotel and apartment complex that is really being handled by OMRAN (ok that does make some sense because MABGOC would have no experience in construction procurement).

It is certainly food for thought: Why Mussanah? Why re-invent the wheel and focus most efforts on building a hotel and apartment building in the middle of nowhere, when existing facilities within Muscat could have easily been adapted and expanded upon to meet the needs of the games. A hotel could have been built at Mussanah by OMRAN to a 4* standard for a lot less than $80 million.

On another point - have you actually visited the site of the Games? Imagine the traffic nightmare that is bound to happen when people try and attend.... to date I have not seen any modifications to the roads or signage, or the motorway access and egress (a simple round about). I hope the ROP will step in and control the traffic otherwise it'll be the pandemonium that we see in Ghala every day. Traffic issues will be compounded by the fact that the athletes will also have to drive in and out of the venue as well.

It is good that other parts of Oman are benefiting from the Games, but it is unfortunate that the facilities being constructed have left little choice for the athletes but to stay in hotel rooms, which the teams themselves are reportedly expected to pay for themselves (I understand that some rooms will be provided for free by the MABGOC, but not all).

One does have to ask the question: Why do countries bid for and compete to host major sporting events? The answer (among many answers) is to do with promoting tourism to that country, and in this case, getting Oman noticed on the world stage as a future host of other major international events. Oman is a truly unique treasure: It's got golden sandy beaches, mangroves, mountains and desert dunes all within 90 minutes of each other, and lets not even get started on the beautiful areas in the Dhofar region and the interior regions. And yet, many supporters hoping to travel with their countries teams will find it hard to secure a place to stay during the Games.

In general, it does look as if the athletes requirements have perhaps been balanced against getting the hotel and apartments finished at Mussanah. And as for the spectators, well the spectators information section on the official website informs us, "Spectator’s Services information will be made available in the months leading up to the Game" - well seeing that there is less than 2 months to go until the "Game" begins, this website is now out of date.

What do you think about the Asian Beach Games? Will you be attending? Do you think Oman will benefit from this event?

le fin.


Anonymous said...

The question should be,'Who owns the land the Hotel (central point of the games) is being built on'? The answer to which should shed some light on the venues location

Thats What I said...

other parts of Oman are benefiting from the games, witch other parts? Bunder Jusa hasn’t had work start and that place is for the Lebanse company so they would benefit is there a place that has had work finish.

The beach games are to advertize beach Oman for tourists , but why? if all the beaches are given to hotels so that when tourist com wich don’t stay in the beach hotels they cant get to a beach.
And its funni that the ministry witch is for tourism is taking all the hotels rooms that the tourists might stay in (a often thing now)
You said about giving the project to OMRAN ‘that does make some sense because MABGOC would have no experience in construction procurement’ – but OMRAN didn’t either .
Look at the ones they do have , 12 bedrooms in Uwaifia witch is empty , 13 bedrooms at Ras al Junz and even small though it is dosnt get full . The Swiss hotel they built on Maseerah witch OMRANS standards it’s a monster of 20 rooms lol, took years to get finished (yes years because their were so many changes made every month to the design that the contractors were so hapi each time as they got more money as the project gotten delayed). Its on the main turtle beach and its brit lights now scare the turtles so what does that say about OMRANS thinking about eco tourism .
So what do you expect if of the 7 athlete accommodation buildings that were planned, only 1 has been built when OMRAN has only done a bigger 20 bed property .
Faithful+Gould witch was given the project management in 2007 said thire would be ,
Two 250 bed hotels,A sports centre, A marina,An athletes’ village,A public grandstand, infrastructure, Roads and car parking, and, Associated supporting facilities all under OMRAN supervising or the ministry of tourism as both are 5 years old in working. But what will be finished and wich got the benefit
The hotel occupancy figures in Oman will look good this year with ministry guests, but only if you look at tourists it will be so bad .
The ownership of the land cant be the same as madinat al zarqa , so witch does or did own the land used for the project

Anonymous said...

Well unfortunately all the major events planned in and around Muscat end up damaging the tourism industry, not helping it.
First, we had the master stroke of the GCC Conference in 2008, At Christmas. Thanks to the Government for emptying all the hotels and then CLAMPING DOWN ON ALL BOAT ACTIVITY during what SHOULD have been one of the busiest weeks in a hard year for the marine tourism industry especially ... recession, red tide ... need I go on.
Plus the PR disaster especially in the UK from the cancellation of everyone's much anticipated Christmas holidays. Any figures available to ANYONE on what that ended up costing in compensation alone? I heard $10m for the Shangri La alone .. don't tell me they footed that bill in the end themselves?
Now we have 40th National Day with the Queen slated to arrive ... in Eid. Consequent close down of Al Bustan Palace I'm sure, and the water. Again. Then it will be the Games in February, all along the coast, JUST when the season is picking up again after the January lull. Great; thanks; Tourism Ministry. It's gonna be great. Who do I go to for compo??
So what's the REAL cost of an event like this? Let's not even try to figure it out.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion the whole concept of this games was flawed, Bali the previous hosts did not build anything. A lot to do with greasing the wheels of the power players in Oman, OMRAN, MOT, CEO of Omran is MOT close relative, alot of waste and incompitence along the way, alot of so called consultants involved who are charging the earth for 2nd or 3rd rate services, but hey welcome to Oman! cant see local people benifiting much either, maybe some service jobs.

Thats What I said...

Anonymous number 3 there are other ministries related , please do not discriminate by omitting them.
In many ‘Olympic’ cities there is a need for legacy .
So for example in the east end of London which is relatively deprived (compared to the fat cat city and west end ) is hoped to benefit , (of course based on the inbuilt flexibility of the UK employment market – where people are hired and fired with relative ease )from immediate construction jobs , service jobs while the games are on , and longer term jobs from all the leisure facilities created within and around the project .
I am certain that there many benefits built into this as the OMRAN chairman was talking recently about his eco credentials so I am certain he will have talked about his support for ‘less well off people’ credentials .
Certainly the facilities, that will be ready according to all press releases,
include a hotel as a focal point focal point of a 1 million square metre sporting campus at Musannah, one hour distant from Muscat. Olympic standard sports facilities, an athlete village, restaurants and retail facilities will populate the waterfront venue. A 400-berth marina, which will be at the disposal of hotel guests, is a key attraction.
Sounds wonderful .

Anonymous said...

Thats What I, yes you are probably right and i might be unduly negative, yes there will be the largest marina in Oman, but who is going to use it? i would be the first person to celebrate the developments success but i do wonder if the strategic thinking is solid here, as far as i am aware there was no realistic business plan for this development, more bus. plan to suit the wishes of OMRAN, i love Oman and its people and i hope it does develop Omans tourist base and helps the local people. Im sure the Omanis will pull the rabit out of the hat and the games will be a great success! inshallah!

Sythe said...

Interesting comments guys.

Thats what I said - I didn't comment on OMRAN's ability, I merely remarked that they have experience in property procurement. ;)

Anonymous commenter 1 - Yes, quite, I wonder just who owns the land in Mussanah!

Anonymous commenter 2/3 - Bali did build infrastructure for the games, but they didn't build hotels. I do concur that this looks like an exercise by Omran to get another hotel on it's books, but then again, it's another hotel that is needed to pursue Oman's drive to diversify it's economy.

As always Anonymous commenter's - you can pick an ANONYMOUS NAME in the commenting options... you will remain anonymous, just with a name to differentiate yourself with.

Anonymous said...


yes you are probably right about Omran wanting a hotel, not entirely sure its in the right place but might get muscat/dubai traffic, time will tell. Think MOD owned the land but not entirely sure

Anon in Bali (i wish)

Popular Posts