The Sultanate of Oman has signed a preliminary agreement with South Korea to build a "smart city" in its Indian Ocean port of Duqm.
The memorandum of understanding was signed last week at the Oman-Korea Business Forum in Muscat, attended by Korean prime minister Lee Nak-Yon and Omani ministers.
The city would be in Duqm’s special economic zone (SEZ) which is already earmarked as the site of a $6.8bn, 50-sq-km logistics city, which is to be masterplanned by Atkins, a unit of Canadian engineer SNC-Lavalin.
The "smart city" designation denotes a situation where all buildings, utilities and amenities incorporate information and communication technologies to manage the performance of services.
Oman sees South Korea as a natural partner for the project because of the $40bn Songdo International Business District on 600ha of reclaimed land off the coast of Incheon. Korea has also agreed to help with a number of other smart city ventures around the world (see further reading).
Saleh bin Hamoud al Hasani, director-general of investors services at the Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm, said the signing of the memorandum of understanding marked the beginning of the planning stage for the project.
He said: "The Korean side will now undertake a comprehensive study that will explore how smart city principles can be adopted in Duqm. This is a one-year-long study, following which we will identify sectors that be integrated into the smart city concept. All aspects of life in the SEZ will be covered in the study."
Image: The Songdo development established Korea in the smart city business (Piotrus /Creative Commons)