Oman to build bridge to turtle island
The country hopes the bridge will lure tourists to Masirah Island to see rare species of turtles.
Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 05:53 AM
TURTLE REFUGE: The island is home to several species of turtle, including hawksbills, loggerheads, greenbacks and Oliver Ridleys. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
MUSCAT - Oman plans to build a $1.5 billion bridge to an island turtle habitat off the Gulf Arab state's east coast to boost tourist numbers, a finance ministry official said on Thursday.
The tender process will be open to international bidders and start early next year for the construction of the bridge, said the official, who declined to be identified.
"The bridge will lure tourists to Masirah Island to (see) rare species of turtles like the loggerheads and greenbacks," a finance ministry official told Reuters.
Masirah Island is home to both species. Other turtles that nest there are the hawksbill and the Oliver Ridley.
When finished, the bridge will be about 40 km long and would be among the longest sea bridges in the world.
Oil-rich Oman attracts about a million tourists a year, 60 percent of whom come from other Gulf states. Earlier this year Omani company Ominvest said it was planning to build a $1 billion tourism resort in the southern port city of Salalah.
"We expect more revenues than predicted this year, though we can't say what percentage, due to higher oil prices than forecast for the 2010 budget. That way, we can squeeze in a project or two," the official from the finance ministry said.
In December, construction of the world's longest sea bridge linking Hong Kong to China and Macau began in a bid to bolster integration and growth of the Pearl River Delta, China's stricken economic powerhouse.
(Reporting by Saleh Al-Shaibany, Writing by Martina Fuchs, Editing by Andrew Callus)
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