Will Jebel Sifah be able to boost tourism for Oman?

By: May 12, 2017

Troon has been selected to provide golf course management services to the new golf course at Jebel Sifah (designed by Peter Harradine), a 6.2 million sqm beachfront development located on the outskirts of Muscat, Oman. Actually, it takes 1h 18 minutes to get there by car from the Muscat International Airport.

The Jebel Sifah’s seafront course offers an unforgettable 9-hole par 36 golf course. With the option of utilizing second pin flags, the course can also be played as an 18-hole par 72. The golf course, currently in its soft opening phase and expected to officially launch in September 2017.

The golf course in Jebel Sifah is seamlessly integrated into the spectacular scenery and natural landscapes

The 9-hole golf course in Jebel Sifah is part of a wider development plan that will see the construction of a full clubhouse with premium facilities, a driving range and a 9-hole golf course all at the center of the seafront destination.

Designed to include six world-class hotels (Four Seasons, Anantara Hotel, Eco Huts, Exclusive – 5-star hotel: under negotiation), of which the Sifawy Boutique Hotel is operational, Jebel Sifah also houses freehold residences, an 84-berth marina, and a wide range of dining and leisure facilities. The hotel (67 rooms) has been built in Arabian style yet thoroughly contemporary and international in outlook.

Jebel Sifah is owned by Muriya a joint venture company of Orascom Development Holding (well-known for of fully-integrated towns) and Omani master developer Omran. The Sultanate’s Ministry of Tourism vision is creating a sustainable tourism industry.

Last year, Oman attracted approximately 3 million tourists, mainly from other Gulf Cooperation Council States (1.5 million tourists), but significant tourists came from:

  • UK
  • Germany
  • Philippines.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Oman will invest US$1.17 billion by 2026 in its tourism and hospitality industry.

Currently, the Sultanate of Oman, Muscat has got only 3, 18-hole golf courses.

Jebel Sifah 7th green against a stunning backdrop of mountain terrain and seafront

How could Jebel Sifah be more competitive?

Undoubtedly, Jebel Sifah is a huge project. However, if they want to impress golf tourists they will have to do more. Let’s start with the very obvious. The 9-hole golf course, even it is possible to play on it as an 18-hole golf course is a huge compromise by the developers.

My first impression of this project is that is less about golf tourism and more about other tourism segments.  The Almouj Golf in Muscat offers a more complex and compelling golf experience with its Greg Norman-designed 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course (+par-3 golf course + golf academy). They are probably the best golf club in Oman.

What could help Jebel Sifah’s hotels and golf course to avoid sameness is the quality of service. There is no information if Four Seasonsdigital concierge service will be available here. This mobile application could enable Four Seasons guests to:

  • Make and manage reservations;
  • Wait-free check-in and check-out;
  • Options to customise one’s stay with special requests;
  • Ready-when-you-are room service orders, plus easy-to-book restaurant and spa reservations, tee times and more
  • Local recommendations for exploring individual destinations.
  • Built-in geo location service offers helpful, in-language maps with time/distance indicators to help to plan out dining, attractions and shopping activities; a save-and-share feature helps with itinerary planning.

It would be beneficial for Jebel Sifah to follow the example of Pebble Beach Resorts‘ example. IBM and Pebble Beach Resorts developed together a unique concierge mobile application. The mobile application is embedded with Watson’s Conversation API, which enables visitors to experience Pebble Beach as if they’re traveling with a local guide. This mobile application is built with IBM Watson’s cognitive capabilities.

Unfortunately, I have not found any jaw-dropping in this real estate project.

If I have to choose between Jebel Sifrah and Al Zorah Golf Club (Ajman) then I would prefer Al Zorah Golf Club (managed by Troon; the 18-hole golf course was designed by Jack Nicklaus). Not just because of the location of the golf club, but also because of the concept of the golf club.

I believe Al Zorah is more multifunctional than Jebel Sifrah. It is easier to image that there can be one day a nurturing place to live, work, and play.