Oman Table of Contents
View of multiple highway system seen near Al Khuwayr,
linking the sultanate's major cities
Courtesy Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman, Washington
The Omani transportation system, as with virtually all the sultanate's physical infrastructure, was a post-1970 development. It includes an expanding highway network, two modern deepwater ports, an oil port at Mina al Fahl, and two international airports facilitating international, intraregional, and domestic service. By 1992 there were 6,000 kilometers of paved roads and 20,000 kilometers of gravel or earthen roads, in a contrast to 1970, when there was one ten-kilometer paved highway and limited coastal and air traffic.
The sultanate's modern transportation system links all significant populated places within Oman and gives easy access to many international destinations. A four-lane highway runs west from Muscat along the Gulf of Oman to Dubayy in the UAE. A second major paved highway in the interior connects locations from just east of Al Ayn in the UAE to Salalah on Oman's south coast. Good land connections link Oman only with the UAE, however. No roads extend across the Saudi or Yemeni borders. The sultanate's principal airport, As Sib International Airport, has regularly scheduled flights to numerous cities worldwide and also to five domestic destinations. Muscat's natural harbor has long been a haven for ships, and its port facilities are among the best in the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula.
Transportation planning and administration, with the exception of the Muscat metropolitan area highways, are administered by the Ministry of Communications through the northern and southern directorates general of roads. The Development Council is responsible for recommending and monitoring overall sectoral objectives and priorities and reports directly to the Council of Ministers. Laying pipelines and certain roads and port facilities related to oil production are under the direction of PDO.
With the major infrastructure in place by the mid-1980s, there was a shift from construction to maintenance and improvement of the existing network. Until 1984 ministry budgets reflected a marginal outlay for maintenance as a result of the relatively new paved road system. However, starting in 1984, maintenance of paved roads became important, and a program of bituminous surface treatment and regraveling was begun. The emphasis in the early 1990s has been on maintaining and upgrading the present highway infrastructure, but the government continues to allocate substantial resources to the development plan for the Muscat metropolitan area, where severe urban traffic problems are being addressed by the construction of interchanges and expansion of some highways to two-lane systems.
Further expansion of the existing transportation system includes enlarging both As Sib International Airport and the port, Mina Qabus, near Muscat. Mina Qabus is expected to be inadequate to accommodate the projected increase in cargo traffic by the year 2000. An expansion project is designed to increase port capacity from 1.6 million tons to 2.6 million tons. The project involves converting two berths to container berths, building a new berth for the Royal Yacht Squadron, creating a storage area, and building a sea wall. The expansion is partially funded by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. The possibility of a port at Suhar, to be used as a transshipment site for destinations farther up the gulf, is under consideration.
Data as of January 1993