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The ministry carries out countless missions and tasks with an amazing precision and has successfully controlled and managed air, land and sea transport systems. Such a difficult task is only made possible by the ministry's dedicated and devoted officials under the able guidance and supervision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Harthy, minister of transport and communications. To his credit, the minister personally supervises all affairs to set a good example of performance and hard work that serves to motivate all employees of the ministry, leading to smooth functioning of plans in a precise system for land, sea and air traffic.
Firstly, we'll take a look at seaports. Before the construction of Port Sultan Qaboos the country only had the Muscat Port, which was small and operated with primitive means. The ships anchored off shore and the goods and passengers had to be transported through dhows (small Omani boats) driven manually with oars to the shore.
The imported goods were stacked on two sites — Khor and Fordha — on the berth and then shifted to the warehouses manually by porters. This method of transporting goods continued for so long before the blessed Renaissance. The then government had deemed construction of a new modern port necessary to meet the requirements of the ships movement. For that purpose, a site in Muttrah was chosen as the location for a new port. This was followed by the signing of an agreement in November 1969 between the former government and a Belgian company Six Constructs. The Belgian company started work on the project in the middle of February 1970. While the construction was still on, a sharing company was formed between the government and the private sector for management of the port. The construction of new port took approximately four-and-a-half years as it was officially inaugurated on November 20, 1974 and was named Port Sultan Qaboos. During the past thirty-six years, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has carried out a number of expansion works at the port in addition to modernisation of its equipment including advanced lifts of huge size and capacity.
Ever since, the port has played a vital role in the process of import, export and transit. The strategic location has added to the significance of the port, which is currently one of the most advanced in the Middle East. This is in addition to Salalah Port in Dhofar governorate that was opened in 1998. Salalah Port, which is a major transit point for the international containers, is considered to be among the best twenty ports in the world.
The opening of this seaport has provided a major fillip to trade movement in the Sultanate. This port is followed by the giant Sohar Industrial Port whose phase one was opened in 2003 to boost trade with other ports and to serve Sohar Industrial Estate, particularly in the field of heavy industries.
Secondly, there was no airport of international class in the country before the dawn of Renaissance, except a small one at Bait Al Falaj. Soon after the blessed Renaissance, the government felt the need for a modern airport in the capital. Therefore, Seeb International Airport was opened on September 1, 1972 and the first commercial flight to land here was that of Middle East Airlines, coming from Beirut. The airport has since witnessed various expansion and renovation works as well as modernisation of its services in recent years and is set for a new comprehensive modernisation project. The ministry also proposes to establish a new airport in the wilayat of Sohar in addition to the existing one in Salalah.
Thirdly, the Sultanate had no asphalt roads before the blessed Renaissance except a cemented patch spanning four kilometres from Muscat to Muttrah. But now a network of modern roads spreads in all parts and directions as a source of pride to the Sultanate. The ministry has so far constructed roads stretching to 9,732 kilometres, which has made a massive contribution to the economy, giving an enormous push to the tourism sector besides saving time and distance. The roads linking Sohar, Yanqul and Ibri as well as Al Rustaq and Ibri are a clear example of the significant projects executed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications during the current year. Various projects are still underway despite the obvious constraints in construction of roads due to the geographic location of the region. Despite all such difficulties and constrains, the ministry has managed to construct roads through the wadis and mountains leading right up to the top of the peaks.
The government of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said had allotted generous funds to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, which led to a number of achievements and projects. The ministry has made a significant contribution to Oman's progress thanks to the efforts of Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Harthy, who despite his ministerial duties also shoulders his responsibilities as chairman of the Tender Board.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications is a vital cog in the wheel of blessed Renaissance, led by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said whose directives inspire one and all in the field of creativity. No doubt, the forthcoming achievements will speak volumes about the continued work and efforts of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, which has and will contribute a lot to the progress and prosperity of our beloved homeland — Sultanate of Oman.
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