Friday, September 12, 2008

Don't Panic!!! Sky not falling on PDO Camp

I've been pestered lately by some of my acquaintances who work for the big oil and gas company Petroleum Development Oman, aka PDO, about the news article on OHI, saying how they are about to go ahead with a hotel/condo/retail redevelopment at 'PDO Heights'. You would have thought the sky was falling. Even the maids are fretting.

However, they should - temporarily perhaps - be reassured. The glorious Times of Oman got it wrong, by saying the redevelopment was PDO Heights (see below), home of various run down bungalows and semis that house many of the expats and senior Omanis who work for PDO, and possibly the best piece of real estate in Oman. OHI will actually be redeveloping the small hill known as Burhan Heights, just opposite the Shell Petrol Station, demolishing the old flats, doing some major 'flattening' of the hill, and building said massive development. (Interesting how the Muscat Municipality coincidentally decided to dual the road leading to it. How convenient for OHI!).

Before it was called Burhan Heights, it was called Shanfari villas I think, and was owned by the previous Oil Minister, who subsequently sold it to OHI.

The reason the article caused such panic, of course, is that it is common knowledge that the Ministry of Tourism and others have been salivating for years over the idea of getting their hands on the large chunk of prime real estate that is PDO Camp. It contains possibly the best private beach in Oman, lots of hills, great views, and is (now) in the heart of Muscat. Talk was of 3 hotels (at least), golf course, plus the usual mass of condo and villas. Think of the rivers of cash that baby would enable. Contracts left, right and centre, and perhaps some nice plots of land for those who have been extra good. The area has even been put into the official portfolio of properties the Government holds in their redevelopment department. Although some in the Government were expecting development to begin in 2010, that doesn't look too likely IMHO. The land isn't going anywhere, the Government have their hands rather full with other projects, and neither the oil company nor the Ministry of Oil and Gas are very keen. The camp is a huge part of the reason PDO can attract the skilled expats it needs for the money the offer, and at current oil prices there is still a huge problem getting the right people to come to Oman.

But, eventually, yep, it will happen. Just not right now, despite what crack reporter Mrudu Naik of the Times says.

For the original source of the panic at PDO, thank The Times of Oman
OHI, UAE realtor ETA Star announce luxury township
by Mrudu Naik
Saturday, September 06, 2008 8:30:50 PM Oman Time
MUSCAT — Dubai-based developer ETA Star Properties and Oman’s OHI Group have signed an agreement to launch a premium luxury township in the heart of Oman on the PDO heights.

The “yet to be named” multi-purpose project with residential apartments, offices and retail spaces, blending luxurious living with high levels of convenience will be launched by the end of the year.
The cost of the project is estimated to be RO400 million. The target customers for the project are AGCC nationals. “We would be targeting middle to upper middle class income group as our clients,” said Junaid.

On being asked what the USP of the property would be, Saleh said: “The biggest attraction would be that it is right in the heart of the city unlike other projects. We expect a substantial demand because of the beautiful location. The design of the project will have a lot of Omani touch.”

Stating that the commencement of the construction would start by the end of the year, Junaid said: “It will take 30 months for the project to complete after commencement.”
Informing that the various sized 1000 residential apartments would be housed in many buildings, Saleh clarified that number of floors had not been decided yet.

“Since there is a little bit of relaxation on the number of floors which was earlier restricted to three, we will be discussing with the municipality authorities before deciding on the number of floors,” he said.


  1. All these nice public pieces of land getting taken left and right for stupid mini-Las Vegases. Sometimes I just want to cry.

    -Omani in US

  2. Nice post Dragon!


    Amen, brotha. I love the PDO camp. It's the only place I can go for a Jog unmolested. It's the safest, best planned, most open neighbourhood in Muscat. I would give my left leg to live there.

    When the buldozers come to scrape it away, and fill it with Hotels the locals can't afford, and build giant villas that crouch behind ten-foot privacy walls, and eliminate the public beach and pull up the trees and sidewalk, it'lll be a really sad day.

  3. OIUS, Suburban

    Yeah, I wonder what will happen to Marjan beach? Its public now, but I bet dollars to donuts it won't stay public.

  4. "PDO heights"? The indian or whoever shithole is naming it how he feels convenient and in bold too. It's called "Ras Al-Hamra". in Arabic, keep it in Arabic. It's a nice place yeah, corruption is too much, that's why Muscat beaches will be history soon. British embassy is a very good example of stupidity where to give places for idiots and bugs. I want my beaches damn it. I want a place where I know future will still be bright for next generations because shit i'm left with nothing. Hatred will definitely come when they see public places eaten away, and they are left with places where they can only build toilets

  5. Kickass-
    What is sad is that Oman has a lot of beautiful places but they are often treated like toilets. Trash and who-knows-what strewn about everywhere. And its not the evil western expats who are doing that.

    And you really need to work on English more before you use so many expletives.

  6. UD -

    Sorry, which one is marjan beach? I didn't know any of the beaches in the area had specific names.

    -Omani in US

  7. And KA - do be careful of criticizing the location of institutions such as embassies - these are not chosen by the recipients, but are designated by the Most Senior Leaders of the country - and certainly we can't question them, can we? In fact, I believe the Brits received their plots (embassy and residence) as personal gift of a very senior leader indeed...

  8. Muscat Confidential,

    The reference to "PDO Heights" was quoted in the press release given by promoters. They mentioned “PDO Heights” in the press conference too.

    Following links will help ease your doubts:

    Mrudu Naik

  9. years and years ago on my first visit to Dubai there was the WTC and then ..... nothing till Abu Dhabi

    the two top left pictures show the before and after of Jumeirah

  10. "and certainly we can't question them, can we?"

    We? as who? I'm different than you.

    Well, you must be one of those hypocritical slaves who end their begging letters with "Your obedient servant". You people promoted this agenda till you believed you're inferior, so can't question your 'senior leadres'. Is that what you're trying to tell?

    If you're inferior and you worship your "very senior leaders indeed", then don't question them. Spare me the crap. Be good to yourself and don't use "be careful" again, and don't tell me what you think, but what you know- If you know anything at all-, because I know better than what you think -in this regard-, and I certainly don't feel like knowing worthless thoughts. Trying to add some mystery and intrigue is just hilarious. When are you leaving this country?

  11. OIUS
    See post soon - yes, mostly all the beaches have names.

    You're right, Ras Al Hamra is the Arabic name for the area in general, but it is probably too broad to be specific enough as to exactly where the development is planned in this case. But PDO Heights was an incorrect location. (The emphasis was mine, BTW)

    I know the press release got it wrong, as did other newpapers. But I assumed a reputable newspaper would query such information when it seems to be incorrect, and perhaps do some actual work on finding out the background to the story, rather than just reprinting whatever stuff some PR press conference hands out... Shouldn't journalism involve a bit more than Control C followed by Control V?

    Leo, Alex, KA - part 2
    Oh, kickass, where to start? You do enliven the comments section, I'll admit, but I think we'd all prefer it if you engaged brain before engaging keyboard, and took a little more time to first read and understand. You claim to be uninterested in others opinions and yet do nothing but spout your own. Unfortunately, the opinions you espouse are generally non-sequitous drivel, focused on your pathological dislike of expats and name calling. This does not help your case.

    Leo was pointing out how many of the public beaches you have already are treated with contempt, and that there's trash everywhere thrown by Omanis. [note, thats an observation, not his opinion].

    Alex was pointing obliquely to the fact that Embassies are assigned land by His Majesty, i.e. YOUR senior leaders, not his. I personally think HM knows a LOT more about the appropriate treatment of such lands than you, and about what is in the best long term interests of this nation and its people (HM being a professional and highly skilled diplomat, respected world leader, and the architect of an Omani renaissance that has brought Oman from the middle ages to the modern world in less than 40 years; you being a bit of a xenopathic nutter who's somewhat fixated on asses).

    But, more importantly, Leo was trying to help you to understand that your comments could be considered potentially criminal if you're posting them from Oman. He was just trying to help you

    (And next time you're at your doctors, ask about what a prescription for Paxil could do for you. I think I speak for everyone when I say we're all a bit worried for you.)

  12. I've been on the record since 2006 that I can't wait for PDO to be kicked out of that prime property.

    The houses PDO has there are one step above portacabins. That area is prime. it is government owned. It should be developed into something better.

    With regards to the British Ambassador's residence there is a reason why they were "gifted" this location. HM wanted the embassy and residence out of their original location next to his palace in Muscat. The British refused to leave. Finally they agreed on condition of being given the land next to the yacht club to build the residence. Which incidentally, was built for them by our government just to get them out of Muscat.

    And if that wasn't enough, for years the British ambassador used to complain of the noise from the boats and the jet skis at the Marina and the yacht club. And even had the audacity to request the Omani government to add beach access to the ambassador's residence by giving part of yacht club beach.

    Anyhow, PDO has signed the MOU with the government to develop their. It's just a matter of time. The first plan fell apart. I am sure another plan won't be too far behind. I think the concession is with Omran. It will happen sooner or later.

  13. Blogging anonymously and reporting for mainstream media are two different things. And, you were being extremely rude to call names.

  14. Well said. However, i suggest kishor cariappa stop posting comments posing as mrudu naik.

  15. Muscati,
    I agree that its prime land that will be redeveloped sometime. And I hear as well that its with Omran. However, the more they wait the more valuable it'll be!

    Plus, while the Government own the land, it is officially leased until 2044 to - not PDO - but the people who have the concession. IE, the Government, Shell, Total and Partex.

    (if that is who you are...) You're right on the first point. And I will henceforth stop referring to you as a crack reporter, although I don't think it's anywhere near as rude as it could be.

    pick a nickname?

  16. The mandate to develop Ras al Hamra is not with Omran anymore. They pulled out of the project a few months ago. As far as I know the government is (was) in talks with some private party to develop Ras al Hamra. That I guess is the reason why most journalists assumed OHI was the lucky one when their project was declared. Dragon, are you 100 per cent sure that OHI is not developing Ras al Hamra/ PDO Heights?

  17. anon
    My state is not so bad that I will resort to ghost write comments in someone else’s name. Should the need arise, I can write comments with my name. Pls don't break your head over these issues. Get a name yourself, to begin with.

  18. Anon,

    100% Burhan Heights. Thats why the residents have been progressively kicked out these past 12 months.

    And the MOU between PDO and MoT has expired, and no new one signed that I'm aware of.


If you wish to post anonymously, please pick a nickname by selecting the Name/URL option, or at least sign off your comment with one! I will delete comments I find objectionable or needlessly inflammatory. Sorry for the word verification.... OMG the spam has gotten BAD these past 12 months... trying to avoid making one log in...