April 13 - Oman Shipping Company (OSC) is set to launch the first feeder shipping service linking all Omani ports to the United Arab Emirates.

The fortnightly Oman Express Service will be operated by OSC subsidiary Oman Container Lines (OCL) using its own multi-purpose vessel to carry containers, breakbulk and project cargoes.

OSC chief executive Tarik Mohamed Al Junaidi claims the new service will be cheaper and faster than road transport which currently handles all freight to the interiors.

Al Junaidi said the ambitious move will drive the development of freight-handling facilities in both Duqm and Salalah ports.

"We are looking to harness the power of our coastline and maximise Oman's strategic location, to boost both trade within the Gulf and worldwide.

"Duqm is set to become Oman's gateway for heavy cargo and the Sultanate's next industrial hub once it is fully operational, with major construction work in hand to handle greatly increased container, project and general cargo.

"There is going to be a lot of development in Duqm," said Al Junaidi. "So there will be a demand for equipment, project cargoes, supplies for construction projects and container services. We are discussing this with the port authorities of Duqm, Salalah and other government authorities."

Improved road links will enable faster and easier movement of cargo via Duqm port to central Oman's oilfields. The Oman Express Service will also increase the amount of cargo being handled at Salalah and Sohar ports.