Over the last 10 years since the CPEC set foot in 2013, Gwadar’s outlook is changing gradually and constructively gotten over daunting challenges especially poverty, civic issues, water, electricity, employability, market-based skills, trade, infrastructure, greenery, agriculture and top of them, blue economy. In the near past, Gwadar was in shamble and disarray. Later, Gwadar started making headway toward progress in a sustainable manner. Many development projects have been completed so far that include Gwadar Port, Gwadar Free Zone South (Phase I), Eastbay Expressway, Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute (PCT & VI), China-Pakistan Gwadar Faqeer Middle School, Fiber Optic, E-Custom system (WeBOC), Plant Tissue Culture Lab & Green House, livestock, women-led garment factory, Gwadar University and GDA-Indus Hospital. Gwadar is expected to attract a significant amount of foreign investment and economic activity. On the back of these successes, more than twenty new game-changing projects are on the way to completion in 2023 and onward years as per their scheduled timeframes. These projects entail the desalination potable water plant, Gwadar Free Zone North (Phase 11), the Gwadar Safe City Project, the New Gwadar International Airport, three electricity projects, the Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan, the Gwadar Tourism Project, the New management model of Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute (PCT & VI), State of Art Shipyard Project, Oil Refinery project, Green Gwadar Project, Pak-China Friendship Hospital, fisher community projects, Gwadar Port dredging project, Export-oriented projects, Fish industry, Warehouse industry, and Gwadar Huafa Exhibition and Trading Center. The city’s strategic location at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, coupled with its deep-sea port and modern infrastructure, makes it a hub for trade, transportation, and investment. As a result, Gwadar is expected to attract a significant amount of foreign investment and economic activity in the coming years, emerging as a major contributor to Pakistan’s economic growth. 1.2 MGD WATER DESALINATION PLANT One of the most significant of these projects is the 1.2 Million Gallon Per Day (MGD) de-salination plant, expected to be fully operational by April 2023. This plant will provide a reliable source of clean drinking water to the residents of Gwadar, who have long struggled with water scarcity and poor water quality. The water desalination plant was completed with the cooperation of the Gwadar Port Authority and China Harbor Engineering Company. THREE ELECTRICITY PROJECTS In 2023, more than 4 lakh people of Gwadar are going to get rid of painful power woes as three electricity projects will power up Gwadar. The first project is about 100 MW of Irani electricity from Gabd-Remdan (Pak-Iran border) to Jiwani Grid Station to Gwadar which will come in March. The second project is another 100 MW from Iran-Pangjur-Turban-Pasni to Gwadar going to be completed in the current year. Third Project is from Quetta, Nag-Besima section to Pangjur and then Turbat-Pasni to Gwadar. Meanwhile, a 5 MW power supply will be available to Gwadar Free Zones North (Phase II). If all goes well, in the second step 12 MW power supply will be ensured for Gwadar Free Zone South (phase I) and Gwadar Port in the coming months. Finally, govt also approved a 300 MW coal-fired power project for Gwadar. GWADAR FREE ZONE NORTH (PHASE II) Another major development project that is expected to pick more pace in 2023 is the development of the Gwadar Free Zone North (Phase II) spreading over 2221 acres of land. Currently, export-based Chinese companies are very near to the building and run their factories in a few months. Gwadar Free Zone North is designed to provide a wide range of trade facilities and business services for investors and enterprises looking to tap into the potential of Gwadar offering thousands of new jobs for the local population and helping to boost the city’s economy likely to grow $30 billion annually. FISHERMEN LIVING STANDARDS PROJECTS The year 2023 has also brought many fortunes for Gwadar’s fishermen regarding their livelihood to new housing schemes. Balochistan Government has approved 200 acres of land for new fishermen housing colonies for low-income fishermen of Gwadar. Around Rs 300 million has been allocated. Around 3,291 poor fishermen of Gwadar are going to get free-of-cost boat engines as the government has allocated funds of Rs. 823 million. As part of corporate social responsibility, the management of China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) and the Pakistan Army also distributed fishing nets to the poor fishermen in Gwadar. NEW GWADAR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT The construction of the New Gwadar International Airport being constructed with a Chinese grant $230 million is all set to start its first test flight in March 2023. Completion is likely in September this year. The airport will have the capacity to handle large aircrafts, making it possible for international flights to land in Gwadar. This will greatly enhance the connectivity of Gwadar with the rest of the world and will also boost the trade and tourism industry in the city. The airport will also provide new business and job opportunities for the locals. GWADAR SMART PORT CITY MASTER PLAN In 2023, the Balochistan government in collaboration with GDA and GPA will unleash step-by-step spiral components of the Gwadar Master Plan ranging from high-tech industries, mega shopping malls, luxury resorts, central business districts, commercial entities, high-paid jobs, tax-free environment, the infrastructure of airway, highways and seaways allowing Gwadar to become the 3rd largest city in Pakistan by economic output. The Masterplan will guide the city’s development over the next several years and will include the development of infrastructure, housing, and other facilities. It will also focus on preserving the city’s natural resources and ecosystem while promoting sustainable development. As part of the Masterplan, a special emphasis will be placed on tourism development in Gwadar. GWADAR SECURITY PROJECTS Two Gwadar Safe City Projects are all set to be executed in a couple of weeks in Gwadar. To help give officials of the Gwadar Port Authority (GPA), investors, traders, and locals a profound sense of satisfaction, the government has started two massive security projects in Gwadar. These projects aim to surround the port and its surroundings with contemporary security systems and cutting-edge safety mechanisms. One of the projects aims to install as many as 675 CCTV cameras in various parts of Gwadar to secure the area. Another demand of locals is expected to be met in 2023 as the Commander of XII Corps Lt Gen Asif Ghafoor has said that the security of Gwadar would be completely given to the police and Levies Force in the next three to four months. GREEN GWADAR As Pakistan and China gear up to execute the recently announced Green Corridor initiative under CPEC, Chinese and Pakistani scientists are attempting to green the sands of Gwadar. To turn Gwadar, the “shining pearl” of CPEC, from a desert to a green oasis, scientists from China and Pakistan are producing a variety of plants that may adapt to the local environment. According to the Belt and Road Engineering Research Center for Tropical Arid Non-wood Forest, which was jointly established by Central South University of Forestry and Technology, China Overseas Ports Holding Company Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd, and Yulin Holdings in 2018, nearly 100,000 seedlings of bananas, dates, orchids, and figs have so far been grown there. TECHNICAL TRAINING & EDUCATION The Pak-China Technical & Vocational Institute, which was established in 2021, is expected to bore more fruits in 2023. A signing ceremony for the joint operating agreement of the Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute (PCT & VI), built under CPEC, was recently held in the presentation hall of the China Business Centre in Gwadar Free Zone. The institute is providing technical and vocational education to the youth of Gwadar, which will help to create a skilled workforce in the region. In 2023, the Faqeer Colony School of Gwadar is expected to provide improved educational facilities. This school is part of a Chinese-funded initiative aimed at developing a high-quality educational system in the area. Zong 4G has partnered with the China-Pakistan Gwadar Middle School, offering digital support to the school’s computer labs to empower the school’s female students. GWADAR’S $4.5 BILLION OIL REFINERY, SHIPYARD & DREDGING To materialize the $4.5 b oil refinery project in Gwadar, a five-member delegation of the Chinese Company “East Sea Group Limited (ESGL)” visited Gwadar a few weeks ago. Initially, ESGL will install a 5 million tons capacity oil refinery in Gwadar. Later ESGL will upgrade it with an annual oil processing capacity of 8 million tons in Gwadar. In addition, other important projects include the construction of a 4.5 billion dollar oil refinery, the dredging of Gwadar port to accommodate large vessels, and the construction of a shipyard project to enhance the shipbuilding industry. A new initiative is underway to allot the most suitable land for the establishment of a ‘New Modern Shipyard’ in Gwadar, to spur economic growth, create jobs, and encourage commercial shipbuilding. WEB-BASED ONE CUSTOM CLEARANCE SYSTEM In a significant development, the Web-Based One Custom Clearance System (WeBOC) system’s first cargo was cleared from the Gwadar Free Zone during the last quarter of 2022. Under Pakistan Single Window, WeBOC in the Gwadar Free Zone will assist with the automation, standardisation, and harmonisation of all trade processes and logistical services about land, air, and sea routes (PSW). The WeBOC system is expected to be further strengthened in 2023. HEALTH SECTOR In addition to the announcement of the Health corridor under CPEC, the Chinese government is also supporting the development of the Pak-China Friendship Hospital, a state-of-the-art medical facility for the population of Gwadar. The hospital will be erected on 68 acres of land and is excepted to start operations this year. In addition to that, many other health facilities are under construction to serve the local community. Overall, from 2013 to 2023, Gwadar is undergoing a significant transformation, with a wide range of new infrastructure, facilities, and services in place to support the city’s economic and social development. After the completion of all projects, Gwadar will be positioned as a key economic hub in the region, with the potential to serve as a gateway to the Arabian Sea and the rest of the world. The writer is a freelance columnist.