(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Foundation stone for the first-ever bus manufacturing and assembly plant in Oman is laid on Thursday by Qatar's Mowasalat (Karwa) in Duqm Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZAD) in the Sultanate.
A joint venture between Mowasalat Qatar and Oman Investment Fund (OIF), a sovereign wealth fund of the Sultanate of Oman, the Karwa Motors project at present is aiming to build 1,000 buses a year, which can increase up to 3,000 buses per annum in a phased expansion based on market demand.
Mowasalat will have 70 percent equity stake in the project and will be holding the remaining 30 percent stake.
Together, the partners will invest around $90 million in the initial phase of the project, a venture with the potential to underpin the growth of a bus hub at Duqm over the long-term.
The plant is designed to produce coach, city and school buses tailored for the local and regional markets. The project is expected to create around 200 jobs in phase 1, which may double after the expansion with the addition of research and development, design, parts manufacturing and global marketing segments.
"Karwa Motors will leverage Oman's existing automotive supply chain network to gain a foothold in the Oman and Qatar markets, which is tipped to become the region's largest by 2022," Karwa Motors Chairman Khalid Al Hail said.
"This plant will enable Karwa Motors to sell buses in the largest market of the MENA region while providing greater flexibility for Oman and Qatar. Worldwide demand for buses is growing and this is the first step towards becoming a leading regional bus manufacturer," he added.
The first stage of the project will be built on a 220,000 square meters site located not far from a world-scale multipurpose port currently being developed at Duqm, Al Hail explained. "Proximity and ease of access to the Port of Duqm ensures reduced shipping times and less effort and time on road transportation for raw materials as well as quick dispatch of finished buses to customers. This also assists in speedy release of goods from the port, reducing storage time."
The state-of-the-art facility will be initially equipped for welding, painting and assembly of buses and coaches. But over time, the project is expected to pull in investments in auto parts, components, engineering services, electronics, workshops and so on, thereby creating an automotive-based manufacturing cluster in Duqm.
Leading Chinese bus manufacturer, Higer Co. Ltd., has been named the technology partner and CKD Kit Supplier for the project. Higer is one of the fastest growing bus brands internationally, underpinned by its reputation for innovation, safety and durability.
Karwa Motors is expected to contribute immensely to knowledge transfer, skills development and socio-economic growth within Duqm and beyond. Besides creating high-value technical and administrative jobs for Omanis, the project has the potential to catalyze the growth of a flourishing automotive components sector, nurture technical talent pools, and also position Oman as a destination for sophisticated industrial manufacturing.
A key spinoff is its potential to support the development of an advanced design, engineering and processing knowledge base in Oman, fuel innovation in processes and product design, and drive the growth of export-led private investments in this industry.
Last updated: November 30 2017 08:22 PM