Monday, May 20, 2024 | Dhu al-Qaadah 11, 1445 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Plan to build major cities in Muscat, Suhar, Nizwa

Plan to build major cities in Muscat, Suhar, Nizwa and Salalah
Dr Khalfan bin Said al Shueili
Dr Khalfan bin Said al Shueili
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The number of land plots distributed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning reached 1.319 million, of which 632,000 were built or developed, at a rate of 48 percent, and 686,000 were non-developed (52 per cent).


Also, the number of current applications for land plots stands at 509,000. Among the applicants, 40 percent are men and 60 per are cent women, said the ministry during a media briefing held on Monday at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre.


The media meeting, entitled 'Paradigm Shift', was attended by a high-level team of officials and media representatives. It witnessed the launch of an executive plan for 2022 as a translation of the national priorities emanating from the Oman 2040 Vision, and the national strategy for urban development. The meeting also included a review of the most prominent achievements of the ministry.


During the presentation, Dr. Khalfan bin Said al Shueili, Minister of Housing and Urban Planning, highlighted the ministry's achievements and challenges.


CHALLENGES


The most prominent challenges faced by the ministry in the 2021 plan, according to him, were financial appropriations, budget and spending, laws, policies and regulations, availability of specialized human cadre, clarity with the relevant authorities, and digital transformation.


"Despite all the challenges faced by the real estate sector, the value of real estate trading in 2021 stood at RO 2.552 billion, while it was RO 2.456 billion in 2020, an increase of 4 per cent," the minister said, adding that revenue from these transactions stood at RO 72.5 million last year, which is low compared to the previous year as a result of a reduction in fee for some services provided by the ministry.


Statistics indicate 16,3000 requests to prove and register ownership have been decided, including 8,8000 (54 percent) requests approved of the total requests, and 7,5000 (46 percent) are rejected.


FOOD PROJECTS


Besides, the minister indicated that 16,000 sites had been approved for food security projects, and 7,645 land plots of various uses planned on an area of 597 million square meters.


The number of usufruct contracts until 2021 stood at 9,3000, with a fee collection of RO 8.4 million.


Dr. Al Shueili spoke about the Sorouh initiative, which is a national initiative for integrated residential projects in support of the existing housing policies in the Sultanate of Oman to provide suitable alternatives for eligible citizens to grant land in partnership between the public and private sectors. He added that there were five new sites allocated within the integrated project.


SOROUH INITIATIVE


In his speech, he pointed out that the ministry called last year to submit requests to express a desire to design and implement real estate development projects "Sorouh" in the governorates of Muscat, Al Dakhliyah, and South Al Batinah, with the aim of embracing various alternatives and solutions to provide adequate housing, achieving the objectives of the comprehensive urban strategy, providing basic services and an innovative model as an alternative to the granting policy and enhancing the role of the private sector and its involvement in building societies.


Until October 2021, land applications in Muscat stood at 123,025, in Al Dhakhliya 55,127, and South al Batinah 32,107.


Regarding housing assistance to social security families and people with limited income, the minister said that 2,000 families benefitted from the programme at a value of RO 47 million, 700 housing units were delivered, and 713 cases were exempted from housing loans worth RO 13.5 million, according to the Royal directives.


"To help those affected by Shaheeh cyclone, payment of housing loans in 544 cases had been postponed for six months, besides 328 cases were approved for housing assistance. The ministry officials carried out more than 40 field visits and verified 199 plots within the wilayat's boundaries," the minister added.


He spoke of the 'Ifsah' initiative, where 142 reports were received, of which 68 were within the ministry's powers and 74 were related to customer service. "There are several cases of direct violations that have been transferred to the State Audit Institution and Public Prosecution. Also, services of three employees in the ministry were terminated after being convicted of various cases during 2021," the minister added.


GOVERNMENT PLOTS


After the issuance of Royal Decree No 42/2021 regarding granting government plots, the ministry has made great strides in governance and legislation in this aspect. According to the presentation, the ministry has completed 50 percent of the draft law on housing, 75 percent of the draft law of property type for public benefit, 70 percent of the real estate development law, 25 percent of the urban planning law, and 75 percent of the addressing law.


With regard to the families affected by the activities of the industrial Port of Sohar, the minister spoke of the model city of Liwa as an example, indicating that the completion rate of the project stands at 85 percent, the monetary compensation amounted to 85 percent, the land compensation rate was 95 percent, and there are 476 housing units under construction with total completion of the infrastructure of public services, which has reached 100 percent.


COMPENSATION PROJECT


As for the Al Batinah Coastal Road Compensation Project, the route of the first phase (Barka-Al-Masnha-Liwa-Shinas) has been handed over to the Ministry of Transport, Communications, and Information Technology, according to the minister.


He also said that the second phase (Al-Suwaiq-Al Khaboura-Saham-Suhar) has gone a long way as the percentage of in-kind compensation for the houses was 96 percent, the in-kind compensation for the farmers was 58 percent, the disbursed cash was 84 percent, and the completion rate of the waste removal project stood at 55 percent.


NEW CITIES


The minister also spoke of the ministry's plan to build major cities in Muscat, Suhar, Salalah, and Nizwa, declaring that there will be a visit to Nizwa on Wednesday, to inspect potential sites for the development of this city.


Based on the ministry's approach of 'sustainable spatial development for prosperous communities," the ministry is implementing several plans and initiatives to achieve this, including 23 initiatives in the field of housing, 4 initiatives in financial sustainability, and 39 in urban planning, in addition to several initiatives to enhance institutional culture, including communication identity, governance, legislation, digital transformation, competencies, and capacity building.


The minister highlighted the 'Amlak' initiative, a digital platform for the ministry's services, whose trial will be run on Tuesday. It provides 50 services to Omani citizens and citizens of the Gulf countries, real estate brokerage offices, investors, and those interested in the real estate market and others. He also announced the launch of the ministry's new customer service line -- 8000099 -- to receive all comments and inquiries.


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