Boosting Tourism in Oman with the Help of Virtual Reality
Virtual tours of Oman’s tourism sites and prominent locales could soon become a possibility. An upcoming enterprise between an Omani studio and a UK company is in the works. This would be a modern way of promoting the sultanate all over the world.
Oman’s Target Photography studios together with UK’s Virtual Experience Company have already worked on two historic sites and they are currently meeting with clients in the training, construction and heritage sectors.
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The joint partnership would be blending top quality video production with new technologies in 3D visualization, virtual reality (VR) and video game style training to showcase part of the most distinguished historical sites as well as documenting sporting and cultural events.
Mike Gogan, director of Virtual Experience Company, said, “We have been privileged in recent years to have worked on projects in Oman and we have seen the great potential for cultural tourism as it has been developed by various agencies. The sultanate is also investing heavily in its infrastructure and tourism and we believe that we can make a positive contribution to the success and sustainability of these projects. New technologies in virtual reality and 3D visualization provide a powerful communications tool, which can help to project the image of Oman across the world.”
According to Gogan, the company has worked with the Ministry of Heritage and Culture for a reconstruction of Bahla Fort, “as part of an ongoing process to bring the ancient heritage of Oman before a world-wide audience”.
“We were commissioned by H E the Advisor on Cultural Affairs to His Majesty the Sultan to recreate scenes of the Salut Archaeological Castle and to model a selection of artefacts which were found at the site. We have used Unity 3D to enable visitors to the site exploring the area in real time and examine the artefacts in close detail.”
Virtual reality is able to create new ways for potential visitors to view Oman’s tourist destinations. “It allows them to interact with the site, rather than passively watching a video or just looking at pictures,” said Gogan, adding, “Thanks to the huge global interest in VR, we also see that people’s expectations of technology will increase and our new venture is ideally equipped to meet those expectations.”
The company will also be utilizing virtual reality to train workers in the petrochemical industry by supporting health and safety programs. Gogan said the technology will enable workers to explore a plant before they start working there – or even before it is built. “Combining VR with our other computer games technologies will enable sophisticated training programs and simulations to be carried out on an ongoing basis.”
He added, “These are just a couple of areas which are of great importance to the Omani economy and where these technologies can make a positive contribution…we are discussing specific projects with other museums and clients in the petrochemical field.
“I firmly believe that this is the time to press forward with new ideas, new businesses and new technologies. Oman has a wealth of young people who will shape the coming decades and I sincerely hope that our project will provide opportunities for some and inspire others to look to the strengths of Oman.”
Sultan Khalfan Alabdali, director, Target Photography Studios said, “We are very excited about the potential to bring technologies such as VR, Oculus Rift and computer gaming to our portfolio. The partnership with Virtual Experience Company will bring us extra expertise straight away, and Mike Gogan and I hope that we will be able to rapidly develop these technologies using the skills of young Omanis as well.”
Target has completed projects for the public and private sectors developing videos on the Muscat Festival, for Omantel, Red Bull, Ooredoo, Duqm Refinery, Oman Oil and a lot of others as well.
“Of course, the major challenge is not just the technology itself, but the availability of suitable content and good applications. This is where the Virtual Experience Company expects to make a big impact,” said Gogan.
Since 1999, the company has been developing 3D models of historic buildings, archaeological sites and new-build developments and is now extending its services to the visualization and virtual access to new developments.
“We can harness the creativity and power of new technologies to build skills and to help Oman stand out as a beacon of both tradition and forward thinking,” Gogan said.
This new venture is able to be viewed on www.virtualexperience.net.