(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Muscat- Under the patronage of H E Yahya bin Saeed al Jabri, chairman of the Special Economic Zone Authority at Duqm (SEZAD), and in the presence of their excellencies the undersecretaries, ambassadors and the representatives of the partners in the project, the foundation stone for Karwa Motors project was laid in the Special Economic Zone in Duqm (SEZD) on Thursday.
Also gracing the event with their presence were Khalid al Hail, chairman of Karwa Motors, Nasser bin Mohammed al Malki, chairman of Mowasalat Qatar, and Khalid al Yahmadi, chief executive officer of Oman Investment Fund (OIF) who is also vice chairman of Karwa Motors, along with dignitaries, senior officials from SEZAD and other invited guests, according to a press release.
Karwa Motors is a joint venture partnership between Mowasalat Qatar – the national transport company of Qatar (with a 70 per cent equity stake) and OIF, a sovereign wealth fund of the Sultanate of Oman (with the remaining 30 per cent stake).
Together, the partners will invest around US$90mn 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 stone-laying ceremony marks a key milestone in the development of a landmark initiative to build the nation's first-ever bus manufacturing and assembly plant based on a strategic investment by the governments of Oman and Qatar.
In a statement, Hail said: '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.'
'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 on a 220,000sqm site located not far from a world-scale multipurpose port currently being developed at Duqm.
Hail explained, 'Proximity and ease of access to the Port of Duqm ensures reduced shipping time 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 plant is initially planned for a production capacity of 1,000 buses a year, which can increase up to 3,000 buses per annum in a phased expansion based on market demand.