More affordable housing projects soon

MUSCAT, MARCH 25 – Plans are on to establish more integrated housing development projects in different governorates of the Sultanate. According to a top official from the Ministry of Housing, an announcement about the projects to be set up in cooperation with the Supreme Council for Planning is expected to be made shortly. “At least four to five projects to provide affordable housing units to citizens are planned in partnership between the government and the private sector,” said Siham al Harthy, Director-General, Real Estate Development at the ministry. Speaking to the Observer on the sidelines of the second edition of Oman Real Estate Expo on Monday at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre, Siham said that the projects are aimed at providing quality housing in integrated neighbourhoods at reasonable prices.

“The ministry is working on the details of the projects. After finalising the location and other details, developers will be invited to present their proposals,” she said. The projects are the outcome of a national initiative under the guidance of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos to provide proper housing facilities to Omani citizens. Siham informed that the finance model of the project will be public-private partnership which offers equal opportunities for the stakeholders including the government, developers and buyers. The projects, considered as an alternative to allocation of government land, will not only reduce the waiting list for those seeking plots, but will also ensure a subsidy for eligible Omanis, the director-general said.

Work on the first project of this kind has already started at Saqsouq in the Wilayat of Barka to provide houses to citizens residing in the governorates of Muscat and South Al Batinah. Being built on a 350,000 square metre site, the integrated facilities at the project consist of mosques, health and commercial centres in addition to tree-lined boulevards, parking space and other amenities. The delay in processing land applications submitted to the Ministry of Housing is due to the large number of applications and the lack of land available for planning. “We hope that the real estate development projects will solve this issue and that there will be coordination with the real estate developers”, Shaikh Saif bin Mohammed al Shabibi, Minister of Housing, has said.

The minister was talking to journalists on the sidelines of the BIG Show Oman and the second edition of Oman Real Estate Expo which opened at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre on Monday. Al Shabibi announced the launch of a one-stop service centre to deal with real estate requirements at the event. The Centre for Real Estate Development Services, the first-of-its-kind to be opened in the Sultanate, will integrate all the service requirements of property owners, developers and consultants under one umbrella. According to the minister, with the launch of the new centre, all the service providers will be on a single platform. It will take only 27 working days for processing the applications and subsequent approvals.

The Ministry of Housing allotted 36,733 residential plots across the country till the end of December 2018, an increase of 18.5 per cent as compared to the same period in 2017. The BIG Show Oman and the Oman Real Estate Expo have more than 3,000 products on display in various segments from 19 countries. Visitors and industry professionals are treated to free-to-attend workshops by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and Project Management Institute (PMI).

The BIG Show, which pioneered the building, construction, housing, and infrastructure shows in the Sultanate, has established its prominence as Oman’s leading international business platform by bringing in six country pavilions that includes China, Germany, Kuwait, Iran, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The exhibition sees the first-time participation of the Kuwait pavilion, organised by The Kuwait Public Authority for Industry (KPAI).