Chinese investors in Oman on Wednesday laid the first stone of an industrial zone in the sultanate's southern port town of Duqm under a US$10.7 billion (HK$83.4 billion) development plan.
They signed a deal last year to finance a series of industrial projects on the nearly 12 square-kilometre site on the Indian ocean, 550 kilometers south of the capital Muscat.
It will include a power plant, a drilling equipment factory and hotels.
Oman in 2008 announced plans to build a port and shipyard in Duqm to handle supersized crude carriers and compete with Dubai's Jebel Ali free zone. Oman Oil Company and Kuwait Petroleum International last week signed an agreementto build a refinery there with a capacity of 230,000 barrels per day when it is completed in 2019.
The sultanate derives 79 percent of its revenues from oil, of which it produces only about one million barrels per day.
Like other Gulf states, it has been hit hard by a cash crunch due to a sharp drop in oil prices since June 2014.
Most of them have introduced austerity measures and set out plans to diversify their economies.