Main focus on planned townships

MUSCAT: May 11: The recent directive to construct modern residential complexes in various parts of Oman over the next five year plan will usher in a new phase of organised residential township, Talal bin Sulaiman al Rahbi, Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Council (SCP), told the Observer, yesterday. He said the first phase of execution of this project will begin next year in Batinah South and finally cover all governorates of Oman. These residential units won’t be freehold properties, but a certain percentage will be sold in the open market.

Al Rahbi said under the current system houses are built in scattered places on land parcels allotted to citizens by the government. “As houses are built in a scattered manner, challenges before the authorities are to provide basic facilities like water and electricity connections to the units. Now, we will see a new phase of planned development in the coming years,” he said.

On having a special directorate for real estate in Oman, Al Rahbi said that its operations are still in the early stages but very soon we will begin to see its benefits. Mohammed bin Salim al Busaidi, OREA Board Chairman, said that that the value of real estate transactions in the Sultanate posted a remarkable growth in 2014 of more than RO 2.9 billion in 2014, compared with RO 2.3 billion in 2013; a growth by 27 per cent.

He said the declining oil prices will not have an impact in Oman as there is still a big demand for housing units and the government has said it will continue spending on development projects.

SCP said the new residential complexes will be developed by companies from the private sector through investment funds or through the public-private partnership (PPP) model. “The complexes are aimed at providing self-sufficient houses at affordable prices,” Al Rahbi said.

The average number of most Omani families (60 per cent) is four to nine members. Moreover, about 52 per cent of those members fall within the income category of RO 300-1,099 and the rate of housing ownership is 87.6 per cent, said to be among the highest in the world.

The size of families has steadily increased and their incomes continued to grow as well, because more family members have jobs, and need to live independently in the near future. Therefore, we find that the current land distribution pattern has been facing big problems and challenges, as the waiting list at the Ministry of Housing includes about 475,000 citizens of whom about 75 per cent are women.

The current land distribution pattern has costs around RO 7 billion to the economy and therefore these problems can be solved by providing low-cost affordable housing in one area where all citizens live together in a civilised community environment.

The various five-year plans in the Sultanate accorded special attention to the housing projects.

The investments in the real estate sector doubled based on GDP growth and the increasing demand for housing because of high per capita income, the large growth in population, and the rapid development in the sectors of transport, roads, telecommunications, ports, airports and industrial zones. This has had a positive impact on the growth of real estate sectors in the Sultanate.

On the other hand, we note the considerable expansion in foreign and domestic trade (retail and wholesale), accompanied by a significant increase in the demand for properties for commercial, industrial and other purposes. This boosted growth in the construction and services sectors that positively affected the economic growth in the Sultanate.

SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER

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