Our Work

OFNZ’s™ work in the Middle East focuses on the Environment (Water Management), Food Production, Marine, Eco-Tourism and Conservation sectors.


Tourism (NEOM)

Tourism enablement

Engaged by NEOM’s Tourism and Nature Region departments since 2020, helping our clients deliver a programme of work that will see the establishment and implementation of tourism activities across this incredible region of Saudi Arabia.

Located in the north-west of the Kingdom, NEOM is an extraordinary and ambitious development. Positioning itself as the “land of the future” NEOM’s aiming to become the world’s leading global hub, reimagining how people live to be people-first and nature-friendly. Protection, preservation, and regeneration sit at the core of its model, with a single-minded focus on regeneration of the planet.

NEOM is one of several giga-projects running concurrently across the Kingdom.

Concessions Framework for Eco-Tourism (UAE)

Framework & licensing programme

Design, development and delivery of a concessions and licensing framework to enable sustainable tourist access and use of protected areas. This framework enabled commercial operators to provide sustainable eco-tourism services and attract visitors nature and protected sites whilst allowing the governing body to meet their obligations regarding protecting and conserving protected areas for future generations.

The concessions framework addressed key issues of: regulation, policy, environmental (quality, biodiversity, sustainability of activities etc.), economic, commercial and social factors and involved the implementation of two prototype concession plans for Al Wathba and the Eastern Mangroves areas.

Economic Impact Assessments (Oman)

Economic Impact Assessment on tourism potential and sustainability for local government agency, Adventure Musandam

Tasked with delivering a preliminary Business Case of Economic Impact Assessment on tourism potential and sustainability for local government agency, Adventure Musandam., a component of Oman’s National Tourism Agency, Omran.

The team had extensive global experience and expertise in sustainable local and regional tourism development. It included local tourism operator representation and consultants to provide local advice and context.

The Adventure Musandam Assessment Project provided Omran with an assessment of: adventure tourism market demand for Musandam; opportunities for adventure tourism experiences and descriptions of tourism experience concepts; financial feasibility of the experiences identified; potential economic impacts; and a business case for delivering adventure tourism experiences.

Working with Tourism Destination Management Organisations (NZ)

Recovery from natural disasters

Developed a new Destination Management Plan (DMP) for the Whakatāne district, situated in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand.

The district’s former DMP was largely focused on Whakaari/White Island, an active volcano lying off the coast of Whakatāne, which was a major drawcard for domestic and international visitors. Tragically, the volcano erupted suddenly in December 2019 and 22 people died. The volcano is no longer accessible by tourists.

The project was delivered quickly and within budget. After three years of uncertainty, the Whakatāne local government now has a comprehensive 10-year DMP strategy and 3-year implementation plan to guide tourism investment and recovery. The regenerative approach seeks to protect and enhance the environment for locals and visitors. It also demonstrates how tourism can be a force of positive change following natural disasters.

Government-to-Government Agreements on Sustainable Tourism (Oman)

Encouraging cooperation between the Sultanate of Oman and New Zealand

Facilitated the development, creation, and management for signing a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) in tourism development, between the Government of the Sultanate of Oman and the Government of New Zealand.

The MOC promoted the exchange of publications, promotional material, participating in exhibitions, festivals and tourism events between the two countries. It significantly increased the exchange of information and expertise in investment opportunities in new tourist areas, especially sustainable tourism infrastructure projects, tourism training and adventure tourism. It encouraged the exchange visits of tourism officials, as well as media representatives to identify tourism opportunities. And it drove exchanging legislation and regulations that govern various fields related to tourism in both countries, including specifications for hotels, tourist villages and other accommodation facilities and hotel management.

National Hospitality and Tourism Training Programmes (NZ)

A work-based training programme for entry-level employees in the hospitality and tourism sectors

Developed a work-based training programme for the Service Industries’ Training Alliance (NZ Government agencies for hospitality and tourism training). Called KiaOraMai, the programme was for entry-level employees in the hospitality and tourism sectors, ensuring they had essential skills that would eventually establish a consistent standard for entry-level tourism employees across the sectors. Subject areas included: customer service; workplace policies and procedures; product knowledge; personal presentation; managing customer complaints; personal behaviour and attitudes; communication skills, etc.

The programme helped ensure NZ had the capability to deliver unique, high-quality visitor and customer experiences. It provided employers with a programme that helped them train and retain people who could deliver great NZ visitor and customer experiences. And it provided pathways to future training and NZ national qualifications in service industries.

Global and Local Destination Storytelling (NZ)

Value-based brand storytelling

Responsible for ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ campaign globally, including overseeing all creative and content development, working with Regional Tourism Organisations, Department of Conservation and Māori on film and production in protected areas (including Whanganui River with legal personhood status). This included navigating complex stakeholder engagement through competing perspectives, multi-million dollar budgets, process management, creative development and health and safety plans in time-pressured environments.

Planning, relationship-building, stakeholder management, risk assessment, obtaining permits, communications, roles and responsibilities and health and safety were critical elements to success. Understanding and engaging key stakeholders early and appropriately in partnership is paramount to building reputation and achieving outcomes. Building relationships before they are needed is an essential foundation. This is especially true for working in protected and ancestrally significant areas and working with Indigenous Peoples.

Feasibility Study for Tourism & Hospitality Institutions (Vietnam)

Feasibility of developing a tertiary level institution to deliver courses in tourism and hospitality

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) is following a long-term plan to diversify the tourism industry, which brings crucial foreign exchange into the country. Responsibility for developing the project’s parameters, international liaison, funding management, arranging feasibility studies, sourcing consultants, and all project management.

The project’s purpose was to study the feasibility of developing a tertiary level institution to deliver courses in tourism and hospitality in Hanoi, Vietnam. The study included: assessing present delivery systems; assessing future industry requirements; reviewing the course curriculum required; assessing the availability of qualified trainers; and staff training requirements.

The project identified training needs in the tourism and hospitality industry plus appropriate curriculum and delivery mechanisms.

Fisheries Management

Fisheries Assessment (UAE)

Fisheries Research Assessment Survey

Leading and conducting a Fisheries Research Assessment Survey (FRAS) of the marine resources of the UAE waters of the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. This multi-year programme of work includes fisheries, acoustic, and oceanographic research, collecting data using two research vessels – the client’s custom-built research vessel - the Jaywun (pictured) - for offshore survey work, and the Al Aryaf for the equivalent inshore assessment. The FRAS will have run for over two years by the time it is completed. Fish stock dynamics including biomass and biological data collected by our team during the survey will provide our client in Abu Dhabi with evidence to shape fisheries’ policy settings for the UAE Fishery.

Fisheries Management Programme (UAE)

Programme management

The management of a programme of work (11 projects) covering policy, regulation, socio-economic survey, management plans, research programmes, 12-month survey of fish stocks in Abu Dhabi waters, and a pilot of electronic catch recording from vessels. The programme was over a 2.5 year period and involved a range of key stakeholders from traditional fishers, to scientists, and senior leadership. Outputs from the programme resulted in new policy settings for the UAE Fishery which have seen an improvement in fish stocks in recent years.

B2B & B2C Marketing Plans For Aquaculture Industry Development (UAE)

Marketing & communications

Development of two marketing plans to: 1) attract investors to the establishment of Aquaculture farms (B2B); and 2) provide a branded marketing programme to introduce and encourage consumption of locally farmed fish (B2C). Both plans included brand development for each of the campaign programmes, channel plans on a range of media, timing, frequency and measurement of the impact of the plans.

Fisheries’ Marketing & Communications Plan (UAE)

Behavioural change programme

Development of a Marketing & Communications Plan for a multi-year social change programme addressing the need to change fishing and consumer habits to allow the Gulf Fishery to recover. The plan included brand development for the change programme and channel plans on a range of media – from social to television – communicating the need, evidence and behaviour change required.

Ground Water Management

Salt Leachate Measurement & Risk Modelling (UAE)

Research & PhD programme

Design, development and delivery of a four-year research project to determine the water-usage, productivity and resultant salt leaching of consumable halophytic crop (Salicornia), under three water treatments (Groundwater, Reject Brine and Aqua-Brine), and three different irrigation methods (drippers, bubblers and subsoil). The Aqua-Brine is the waste water from an aquaculture farm applied to the three crops (containing highly saline water and nutrients from waste). The Reject Brine is waste from desalination units – highly saline water. The research is being conducted to inform water allocation and management policies for the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi. It includes in-country practical research and supervision of PhD students by Plant & Food Research scientists and Massey University (NZ).

Development of a Decision Support Tool for Water Allocation (UAE)

Customised tool for water allocation

Design, development and delivery of a software decision support tool for use by water regulators. The tool uses input parameters customised to the local environment (soil type, salinity, climate, crop type, farm size etc) to calculate the amount of water that can be allocated to a farm on an annual basis. It also allows for seasonal allocations and variations and is designed to be used to calculate water allocations for permitting and monitoring purposes.

The tool has also been customised to take spatial data into account, allowing for farm composition and crop type to be detected via satellite or drone images, allowing easy collection of date from remote or difficult to reach farms.

Measurement of Water Consumption by Date Palms (UAE)

Research and PhD programme

Design, development and delivery of a four-year research project measuring and calibrating groundwater use over three different salinity levels and the impact on resultant fruit yield in Date Palms. The project identified between 40-60% savings on water usage with no impact to fruit yield. The research was commissioned by the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi to inform water allocation for farmers. It included in-country practical fieldwork training and PhD reseach programme with Plant and Food Research and Massey University (NZ).

Measurement of the Impact of Treated Sewage Effluent (TSE) on Forestry (UAE)

Research & PhD programme

Design, development and delivery of a four-year research project to measure and calibrate the use of both groundwater and Treated Sewage Effluent for irrigating native forestry and amenity plants. Project identified up to 50% water-use savings on groundwater use and up to 75% water savings in TSE use. The project included in-country fieldwork and a PhD programme supervised by Plant & Food Research and Massey University (NZ).


Leadership Training for School Principals (Oman)

Customised training programme

Designed, developed and delivered a two-year leadership training programme for school Principals. Based on a train-the-trainer approach, the programme was delivered to 600 school Principals and included workshops, one-to-one training and supporting videos in Arabic and English.

Review of Education Sector K1-12 (Oman)

Sector review & recommendations

Undertook a 12-month review of the education sector in Oman. The review and subsequent recommendations covered all aspects of K1-12 education including school infrastructure, governance (local, regional, central), financial, curriculum and assessment, resourcing, and teacher training.