A worker stands at the construction site of Duqm Airport, Oman, August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Nawied Jabarkhyl
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In the desert along Oman's southern coast, construction machines hired by a Chinese consortium are leveling an expanse of pale orange sand – a first step toward billions of dollars of investment.Oman's finances have been hit hard by low oil prices, so it is scrambling to attract foreign money for new industrial zones that will create jobs for Omanis whom the government can no longer afford to employ.Eventually, Chinese firms aim to invest up to $10.7 billion there, said Ali Shah, chief executive of Oman Wanfang, the Chinese consortium.Oman Wanfang is a consortium of six Chinese firms, many from the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in north-central China, an area with a large Muslim population that is active in promoting business ties with Arab nations.Oman Wanfang's operations show how the Belt and Road scheme supports Chinese investment abroad. That seal of approval aids Oman Wanfang in talks with the Omani government and may help Chinese investors in Duqm obtain loans from Chinese banks, many of which are controlled by their government.
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