Fanja’s landmark project to begin in 2 years
The US$300mn Sah al Ahmar project, dubbed as Oman's biggest sports infrastructure initiative, is expected to have its groundbreaking ceremony by the end of 2014, according to Sheikh Talal bin Mohammed al Sabah, a member of the Kuwaiti royal family and a majority shareholder of the project's promoters, New Investment Company.
Speaking to Muscat Daily after signing the 30-year lease with Fanja Club at Grand Hyatt on Sunday, Sheikh Talal said, “It is a big investment and we are happy to do it in Oman.
"We have got good support from various stakeholders and we are excited to have a partnership with one of Oman's best clubs, Fanja. If everything goes as per plans, we expect to begin work by the end of 2014.”
Sheikh Talal said that in the initial phase, the project will focus on developing sports infrastructure. “We will first focus on building football stadiums, pitches and facilities for other sports. The project will be completed in different stages and we hope to finish it in five years from the end of 2014,” he said.
The agreement for the project, which will cover an area of 300,000sq m in Sah al Ahmar, near Fanja, was signed by Sheikh Talal and Hamyar al Ismaily, chairman of Fanja Club, in the presence of H H Sayyid Shihab bin Tariq al Said, Advisor to His Majesty the Sultan.
Speaking after the deal was inked, Ismaily said, “The project will have a huge impact on the overall development of the club and its football team. An academy will soon come up and we aim to attract the best talent in Oman to the academy. There is a comprehensive plan to promote football and one of the ways to do it will be to hire top professionals for the senior team.
“The promoters also plan to hand over the management of the academy and the management of other sports to a top German university in Cologne. We hope the investment will make the club self-reliant.”
H H Sayyid Shihab said, “It is a new beginning for Fanja Club and a positive development for sports in Oman. I hope other clubs will take a cue and invest smartly to get better returns and give a platform for the youth. The project will reach out to the people of Fanja, Bid Bid and Dhakhiliyah regions.”
H E Sheikh Rashad al Hinai, Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Sports Affairs, said, “We have reached a point where the clubs have to take the lead and get involved in making proper investment.
"The sports ministry will facilitate such projects and will serve as a backbone for the clubs. We will also give them legal assistance during the setting up of such projects.”
The ceremony was attended by His Highnesses, H E Saif al Shabibi, the Minister of Housing, chairmen of various clubs, and other officials. Earlier, Fanja Club's vice-chairman Ahmed al Busaidy provided the details of the project.