Real estate developers are increasingly focusing on Integrated Tourism Complex (ITC) projects
The Sultanate’s property market is showing signs of recovery, largely due to improving economic conditions and rising crude oil prices. The average value of real estate traded in Oman rose by 14 per cent to RO37,854 in Q1 2018, from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Housing. Demand is now on the upswing. In Q1 2018, the total value of property traded in Oman increased 6.5 per cent y-o-y to RO776.3 million in comparison with the 61 per cent decline seen in 2017, based on figures from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI). Buoyed by higher oil prices, Oman’s economy is recovering well from the lows of 2016 and is projected to grow by 3.6 per cent in 2018, according to the international real estate consultancy Cluttons. If sustained in the longer term, this economic growth is expected to have positive impacts across the property market, Cluttons said in a report. Cluttons’ Muscat Spring 2018 Property Market Outlook report indicated the government’s strong push to boost overall economic growth has resulted in a number of very encouraging developments for
the property market, such as the muchanticipated decision to allow the creation of a real estate investment fund (REIF). This will pave the way for investments in large-scale real estate projects at significantly lower price points and with far greater liquidity, in comparison to more traditional real estate investment, according to the report. Cluttons expects demand, in the short to medium term, to be impacted by the Ministry of Manpower’s decision to temporarily ban the issuance of work permits in key sectors.
Real estate developers meanwhile are increasingly focusing on Integrated Tourism Complex (ITC) projects, which offer several thousand homes for foreigners. According to an estimate, more than 5,000 new homes will be available for expats to buy across Oman under an ambitious five ITCS. As per the rule, non-omanis can only buy property within Integrated Tourism Complexes but the government is pushing to create more, as part of its move away from dependence on oil and gas. These projects include Diyar Ras Al Hadd Resort, Omagine Project, Quriyat Integrated Project, Naseem Al Sabaah Project and Al Nakheel Project.
The total investment required for the new tourism projects through the Omani Tourism Strategy ( 2016-2040) is between RO936 million and RO18 billion of which 88 per cent of these investments are through the private sector and have been approved, while others are in the development stages. The existing ITC projects include Al Mouj, Barr Al Jissah, Muscat Hills Golf and Country Club, Al Siffah Resort, Saraya Bandar Jissah Muscat Bay and Salalah Beach Resort.
Developed by Omran and Saraya Holding Oman, the first phase of Muscat Bay consists of 260 residential units in three residential zones. However, in the second phase, another 200 houses will be added to the whole development, taking it to 460 housing units. The first phase includes twin villas and detached villas in the island lagoon area that have two-bedroom and large and small one- bedroom apartments. The one-bedroom apartments and smaller two-bedroom apartments are for investors, while the larger two-bedroom apartments, which span an area of over 200 square meters, are for clients for their own use.
Several other projects, which mainly focus on local people, are also in different stages of planning and development. An integrated mix-use project in Al Mawaleh - Mazaya Residence was launched by Al Mazaya Holding – a joint venture of UAE and Kuwait investors. The first phase of the residential-cum-commercial project will have 120 residential units and 28 shops. Sprawled over a total space of 23,194 square metres and divided into 12 commercial-cum-residential plots, the project offers residential units, including one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom flats and shops of varying sizes with high-end amenities and landscaped areas and nature. The company will develop the project over different phases, the first of which was announced under the name ‘Zone 1.’ The project is strategically located near key shopping malls and trade centres in Muscat, including City Centre, which is located only a few minutes away. The amenities of the residential project include swimming pools, health clubs and tennis playgrounds. The project stands out as an attractive opportunity for investment or housing.
National Mass Housing’s second phase of Areej Residential Community has also been launched. Areej Residential Community stretches over 30,000 square meters and presents a milestone for the real estate sector in Oman. One of the main features of the project is the strategic location which gives the whole project more uniqueness and investment value. It is located near the German University of Technology and Sandan Industrial Park and a 15-minute drive from Muscat International Airport, 15-minute drive from Muscat City Centre and 10-minute drive from Seeb Souq. The architectural design of the 69-villa project ensures comfort, luxury and enjoyable life for all residents. It has been designed to be the gateway for through which individuals will step into a new world of creativity. Each villa stretches over 237 square meters and has been equipped with a wide range of facilities, technologies and internal design that provides the highest level of comfort and optimal use of every corner. The delivery is expected to be in 2019.
The first ever solar energy office in Oman, the Taj office building, was also launched in the early part of 2017. Harnessed partially by the power of the sun, the office is the outcome of the efforts of Teejan Investment and Development. Supported by a variety of latest cutting-edge technologies and high-end specifications, Taj office building will be equipped with fast internet connections making it a stateof-the-art smart office. The project is overlooking the main streets of Muscat city and it is a seven-minute drive from Muscat International Airport. Stretching over 3,942 square meters, the 12-story building can accommodate 270 vehicles.
Optimising the use of latest technologies, Taj is the first office building in Oman to be equipped with a robot to work as a guide for visitors. The building is solar energy powered and is equipped with smart lighting and air conditioning systems. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Housing has asked real estate brokers to get a licence, which was a long pending request from Oman Real Estate Association. The trade body had also asked for establishing a national-level body for regulating the real estate market, especially property developers and real estate brokers.
The Sultanate’s construction industry continues to remain buoyant, backed up by the construction of new highways, development and implementation of several big-ticket projects, expansion of the real estate sector, and a thriving tourism and leisure market. Investment, especially in ITCS are steady and seeing more potential. A number of new luxury hotels are also in the pipeline. The new trend towards master-planned cities is a positive development for Oman which offer numerous tie-ups between public and private sectors.