Duqm is geographically well placed. Many ships plying from Asia to Europe hug Oman’s coast en route to the Suez Canal. Plans to build roads, pipelines and railways to link up with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are afoot.
The idea is to use this export hub to make Oman’s economy less reliant on dwindling reserves of oil. If Duqm took off, sleepy Oman might—say the planners—challenge nearby Dubai’s dominance as the region’s trading hub.
Tensions between Iran and its Arab neighbors–backed by the United States–give investors and states around the world reason to favor the development of ports and pipelines on the southern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, which ensure the flow of trade and oil regardless of the state of the Strait of Hormuz. Oman’s mega-projects could also provide employment for citizens of nearby nations whose economies are less robust.