Plans for the implementation of Oman’s first Model Residential Quarters Project — a government-driven initiative to provide affordable housing to young Omanis — are set to make further headway with a shortlist of developers bidding for the mandate to develop a substantial pilot at Barka, according to a key official associated with the project.
Mohammed bin Salim al Busaidi (pictured), Chairman of the Oman Real Estate Association (ORA), which is represented on the high-level Steering Committee driving this landmark initiative, said an award for the first development is expected early in 2018.
“(The Steering Committee) has already shortlisted around nine developers that have applied to develop this pilot project,” said Al Busaidi. “A Request for Proposals (RfP) has gone out to these parties, who will be given some time to submit their proposals. Hopefully, by early next year, an announcement will be made as to who will undertake the pilot project. Of course, the government is also discussing other projects to follow.”
Al Busaidi made the revelations during a press conference to announce a partnership between ORA and local events management firm Oman Expo to stage the first large-scale Oman Real Estate Exhibition and Conference at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre next March.
An estimated 1,000 residential units are proposed to be offered as part of Oman’s maiden Model Residential Quarters project, said the ORA Chairman. The pilot, which will include all of the facilities, amenities and attractions of a mini-city, will come up on a roughly 350,000 sq metre site just off the Expressway in Barka.
Spearheading the Model Residential Quarters initiative on behalf of the government is the Supreme Council for Planning, which has been collaborating with the Ministry of Housing, among other stakeholders, in the delivery of affordable housing for the burgeoning numbers of young Omani men and women waiting for parcels of government land to build their homes.
An estimated half a million nationals are on Housing Ministry waitlists for the allocation of residential land parcels, according to Al Busaidi. Omanis opting for housing offered as part of the Model Residential Quarters projects will have to waive their entitlement to these parcels.
Significantly, land for the affordable housing projects will be provided by the government, while developers working alongside banks and investment funds, will implement the Model Residential Quarters projects under a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) arrangement. Competing for the awards are some of Oman’s biggest and most prominent developers, some of whom have partnered with international players, said Al Busaidi.