High-speed ferries to give boost to tourism


(TVLW) – Two high-speed passenger ferries that Oman ordered in the middle of last year with Australian shipbuilding firm Austal are getting ready for their launch. The identical vessels, named ‘Shinas’ and ‘Hormuz’, will have a top speed of over 100 kmph, making them the fastest diesel-powered ferries in the world.

Owned entirely by the Oman government, the two boats, due to be delivered in April, will be used for services between Shinas and Musandam, a distance of about 180 kilometres. “During the trial run, the speed reached 55 knots per hour, more than their 52-knot standard speed, making them the fastest for any commercial ferries in the world,” the company said. Besides linking the coastal areas, Shinas and Hormuz, both 65 metres long and with a capacity to accommodate 208 passengers and 56 vehicles, are expected to promote tourism to the breathtakingly beautiful Musandam peninsula, the Sultanate’s northern-most tip.

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They will also provide an important new transportation link between Khasab, the main town in Musandam, and the northern Batinah coast.

The ferries, which boast a helipad as well, is powered by four MTU 20 cylinder 1163 series diesel engines driving a Rolls Royce/KaMeWa waterjet propulsion system.

Oman signed the $66 million deal for the vessels with Austal Ships in May 2006 following a competitive international tender process. Passenger facilities will feature high quality seating and catering support, all located on a single deck, with additional seakeeping comfort provided by a SeaState Motion Control System.

Students learn about heritage

ELEMENTARY School students of The American International School of Muscat (Taism) have been learning about Oman as part of the school’s annual weeklong ‘Discover Oman Programme’.

During the week, students are exposed to and experience the unique cultural and environmental diversity available to them locally.

Students learn about the rich culture and heritage as well as important economic sectors of today and the past. Grades 4 and 5 students, after attending a lecture given by local environmental scientists from Five Oceans, engaged in a beach clean-up exercise.

Grade 4 students, guided by the scientists, also conducted a beach survey at Qantab to better understand and appreciate the microhabitats and ecology. Students visited local museums — Bait Al Baranda, Omani Heritage, Natural History and Nakhl Fort.

Curators of each of the museums gave them highly informative tours. They toured the Muttrah and the Seeb fish souks.

The Seeb group had the fish drying process explained to them by Seeb resident and member of staff, Mohammed Al Balushi. Grades 1 and 3 visited Tawoos Farm, a success story on the application of modern farming techniques to farming in this traditionally agricultural region of Oman.

Early Childhood 2, Grade 2, and Grade 5 learned about Omani efforts to conserve Arabian purebred horses and ponies at the Royal Cavalry Stables in Seeb.

Students visited a variety of sites to learn about Oman’s geological heritage, hiking from Ghallah Oasis to Bausher, and in the process learning about how Ghala Oasis owes its existence to its geological location.

Grade 2 students visited the Al Ansab Hot Springs where they learned about Falaj systems and their relevance to water conservation efforts. There was also a team-building hike in Riyam for grade 5 students.

The Kindergarten had an exchange with students from Al Nubugh Elementary School, Al Hail. The programme always concludes with a celebration of the wealth of culture and heritage inherent in Oman.

Students experienced Omani hospitality at its best in an authentic Omani tent arranged by Taism Omani members of staff, Khazina Al Harthy, Habiba Al Harthy and Sabra Al Harthy.

There, students, parents and non-Omani staff learned about Omani dining etiquette before enjoying delicacies including coffee and dates. They listened and danced to Omani traditional music.