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AIIB approves two standalone projects in Oman

The Beijing-based multilateral has so far granted $1.13bn of loans since inception, nearly achieving its $1.2bn financing target for 2016.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has approved two loans totalling $301m to finance transport schemes in Oman, marking the second and third standalone projects to be sponsored by the Beijing-based lender.

The package comprises a $265 million loan to Oman’s maritime infrastructure facility at Duqm Port and a $36 million loan to help develop the country’s first railway system. The projects aim to boost trade links between Oman and the surrounding region.

Duqm Port's strategic location means it could become a regional logistics hub, the AIIB said. The project, which comprises a commercial terminal and an operational zone, is estimated to cost $353.33 million.

Oman is also working on building its first railway system, with preparation work budgeted at $60 million. The new railway system is meant to help the country become a regional transport hub and an exporter of mineral resources.

These two projects are the first for the AIIB in the Arabian Peninsula, as well as the lender's debut investments in the port and railway sectors. The bank’s president Jin Liqun said in a statement that the AIIB has a strong pipeline of investments for 2017.

The multilateral has so far approved $1.13 billion worth of loans to eight projects since it started its operations in January this year. Its first standalone financing, sealed in July, was a $165 million loan to support Bangladesh as the country upgrades and expands its electricity distribution system. Other projects were co-financed with the International Finance Corporation, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The bank said in September that it aimed to provide financing totalling $1.2 billion in 2016.