A $6bn tourist development in Oman announced last year and thought to be under construction near the northern port of Shinas has been called a "fake" by an Omani government minister.
Ahmad Al Meherzi, the sultanate’s minister of tourism, said this week that the Wahat Oman scheme, which means "Oman Oasis", turned out to be a mirage after an investigation.
Announced in April 2015 by Omani businessman Sheikh Sabaa bin Hamdan al Saadi, the project was to include five- and seven-star hotels, an international sports hospital, the Gulf’s largest marina, a health club, villas, mosque, mall and "sea fountain". They were supposed to be built on an area of around 834,000 square metres and were to be completed in six years.
It was reported that the project would be developed by the Saudi UDM Construction Group, project managed by Dubai-based Primatec International and built by Qatar’s Athar Building & Development.
The revelation of its non-existence came after members of Oman’s elected Shura Council raised questions about the project. Al Meherzi replied that the project was entirely in the private sector and that his ministry had nothing to do with it.
"After launching an investigation into the project, it turned out that the project is fake," he said.
In the past Sheikh al Saadi has acted as the secretary general of the Supreme Committee for the National Day Celebrations, which is responsible for organising decorations and fireworks.
Photograph: The port of Shinas is home to about 40,000 people and is known mainly for its traditional architecture (Bjoertvedt/Wikimedia Commons)