Times of Oman
Sep 03, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 02:10 PM GMT
Omani families benefit from efforts of Housing Ministry
July 22, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Photo: Times of Oman

The housing sector is considered to be among the most vital sectors in the economy and plays an increasingly important role in the rapid urban and economic development currently being witnessed in the Sultanate. Being a service sector, it is linked directly to the daily life of the country's citizens. The Ministry of Housing (MoH) focuses on implementing short-term and long-term plans and programs to promote housing, urban and real estate development in a way that benefits all members of society and provides social stability to all Omani families.

Along with its directories and departments in the various governorates, the MoH takes the help of the Supreme Committee for Town Planning, Surveying Department, Lands Department, local committees, Real Estate Registration Department and social housing programs, to implement its housing policy. This report reviews the MoH's achievements in terms of numbers and percentage at various levels across all the governorates.  

Town planning and surveying
The aim of urban planning is to achieve a balanced development across the various governorates of the Sultanate by preparing detailed plans and allocating land in towns and villages for various uses. Using urban plans and planning charts, the MoH has provided 58997 plots of land spread across the governorates of the Sultanate for various uses to Omani citizens. Out of the total number of land plots allocated for various uses by the MoH, a majority (19 per cent) lie in the Al-Sharqiyah North Governorate and 80 per cent (46,996 housing plots) was allocated for housing use.

The MoH allocated land plots for various uses totalling 2,374 in the Dhofar Governorate; 10,045 in Al-Batinah South; 1,507 in the Al-Batinah North Governorate; 1,137 in the Al-Buraimi Governorate; 7,637 in the Al-Dhahirah Governorate; 168 in the Musandam Governorate; 9,531 in the Al-Dakhiliyah Governorate; 6,071 in the Al-Sharqiya South Governorate; 10,965; in the Al-Sharqiyah North Governorate; and 9,562 in the Al-Wusta Governorate.

The MoH recently issued a regulation for controlling the land allocated for various uses through Ministerial Decision no.: (53/2013). The regulation emphasised the need to comply with the rules of the planning process regarding applications for extension, change of usage, modification of the shape of the land plots, integration of land plots, parcelling of land, addition of new land plots in the plan and increasing the height of buildings.

The land for various uses are granted according to the regulations laid down by the Royal Decrees; in addition to the MoH's decisions and circulars emanating from the decrees on the conditions for granting the land for various uses to Omani men and women.

In 2013, the total number of land plots allocated by the MoH across various Omani governorates was 37,750, with the Al-Batinah South and North governorates comprising the lion's share of the plots granted to male and female citizens at 21 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively. The highest number of plots was allocated for residential use at 92 per cent or 34,815 plots.

In 2013, the land plots granted by the MoH to male and female citizens totalled 1,297 in the Muscat Governorate and 7,791 in the Al-Batinah South Governorate. The MoH granted residential land plots totalling 6,853 in the Al-Batinah North Governorate; 116 in the Musandam Governorate; 5,073 in the Al-Dhahirah Governorate; 568 in the Al-Buraimi Governorate; 6,053 in the Al-Dakhiliyah Governorate; 1,879 in the Al-Sharqiyah South Governorate; 6,009 in the Al-Sharqiyah North Governorate; 182 in the Al-Wusta Governorate; and 1,929 in the Dhofar Governorate.

The Lands Affairs Committees held 267 meetings and perused 15,181 cases in 2013. The number of cases presented to the local committees in different wilayats of the Sultanate reached 10,309, while 11,080 cases were recorded and the title deeds for 7,565 plots of land were granted to Omani citizens, in line with the provisions of land laws that prohibit possession of government plots of lands without a legal title bond. A work plan was built to complete perusing the land claims files in various wilayats of the Sultanate in collaboration with the competent authorities to arrive at a solution for all the cases related to land claims as per the royal decrees and ministerial decisions that seek to reduce random and illegal possession of land across various wilayats of the Sultanate.

Real estate registration
All real estate properties in the Sultanate are registered according to the applicable registration system. The system, which is followed in most countries across the world, facilitates smooth and safe trading of properties. The system contributes to:

Keeping and maintaining the rights of the property owners by registering the properties using registration documents.

Encouraging various investments in property by facilitating the legal and documentation process of the contracts.

Regulating the utilisation of land for investment purposes according to the usufruct system.

In 2013, the MoH registered a total of 87,722 land plots for various uses across the different governorates of the Sultanate for the first time. The largest number of registration of plots was in the two governorates of Al-Batinah South and Al-Dhahirah, with each accounting for 17 per cent of the total plots registered, followed by the Al-Dakhiliya Governorate with 16 per cent and the Al-Batinah North Governorate with 15 per cent. Out of the total land registered for the first time, grants comprised 59 per cent and land possessed by virtue of decision taken by the Lands Affairs Committees comprised 25 per cent.  

In 2013, the traded value of real estate in the Sultanate amounted to about OMR2 billion and 200 million.

Legal registration fees amounted to more than OMR33 million and 500,000. About OMR21 million came from the sale of real estate (61 per cent), while more than OMR7 million came from real estate mortgage (22 per cent).   

In 2013, a total of 1,2,0081 real estate deals were registered across the various governorates of the Sultanate, out of which, 56 percent or 66,695 comprised sales deals. The highest number of legal property registrations was recorded in the Muscat Governorate.

The MoH issued 2,0,4534 title deeds, with the Al-Batinah North Governorate comprising the lion's share with 17 per cent, or 33,803 deeds, followed by Muscat with 16 per cent, or 32,779 title deeds, the Al-Dakhiliyah Governorate with 14 per cent, or 27,532 title deeds, and Al-Batinah South with 13 per cent, or 26,843 title deeds.   

As part of efforts to promote co-operation in the economic field among the GCC countries and encourage activity in real estate among the citizens of the GCC countries, the Unified Economic Agreement signed by the GCC member states provides that the citizens of the GCC countries should receive the same treatment that is received by the nationals of any of the GCC member states.

Accordingly, the citizens of GCC countries are entitled to own real estate for various uses, and for residence and investment purpose, pursuant to the ownership conditions. In 2013, the number of real estate owners in Oman from the GCC countries, as per the laws for real estate ownership in the Sultanate, reached 32,221. Their ownership of real estate was concentrated in the Al-Batinah North Governorate, comprising 41 per cent and 1,313 title deeds, followed by the Dhofar Governorate with 15 per cent and 494 title deeds.

Social housing programs:
Housing subsidies through social housing programs for low-income families aims to improve the living standards of Omani families and to help them achieve social stability by providing them with suitable houses. The MoH achieves this aim in collaboration with various other government authorities.

The MoH has three social housing programs for providing housing to certain categories of low-income Omani families and families that fall under the social security umbrella through its residential units program, in addition to assistance and housing loan programs that target such low-income families. The MoH also reviews and amends its internal regulations from time to time in line with the social and economic changes in the community.

Housing assistance program:
The housing assistance program receives support from His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said amounting to OMR80 million every year. This support aims to accelerate the pace of building homes for low-income families and families that fall under the social security umbrella with monthly incomes not exceeding OMR300. After submitting an application and selection, the assistance is granted once in a lifetime to enable low-income families to build their houses, restore their existing houses; make additions to such houses or re-build their houses for not more than OMR20,000, which cannot be resettled.

The MoH has simplified the procedures and amended some applicable laws related to the social housing programs in line with the social and economic changes to ensure that the citizens receive housing assistance through the quickest way and as early as possible. The MoH's efforts in this area include forming independent committees in the governorates for examining the applications for assistance and loans in order to arrive at a decision directly. This has helped process a large number of applications and save the time and efforts for Omani citizens.

The MoH makes strenuous efforts to help citizens who have applied for registration with the Housing Assistance Program by providing them with various housing alternatives, including building of houses according to the twin-villa system. The MoH has already begun constructing these types of new houses in line with the prevailing architectural style, while keeping the appearance of the twin villas similar to the existing buildings. Additionally, the MoH provides another choice for people who are eligible to receive housing assistance. In case land is unavailable, the MoH finances the purchase of a house or a flat for a value of not more than OMR25,000.    

In 2013, the MoH approved a total amount of OMR103 million for supporting a total of 4,353 families who benefited from this program across various governorates of the Sultanate. The number of families across Oman who benefitted from the program totalled 299 in the Muscat Governorate; 479 in the Dhofar Governorate; 160 in the Musandam Governorate; 151 in the Al-Buraimi Governorate; 352 in the Al-Dkhiliyah Governorate; 841 in the Al-Batinah North Governorate; 452 in the Al-Batinah South Governorate; 497 in the Al-Sharqiyah South Governorate; 665 in the Al-Sharqiyah North Governorate; 371 in the Al-Dhahirah Governorate; and 86 in the Al-Wusta Governorate.

2- Soft housing loan program
The program aims to grant interest-free housing loans to low-income citizens whose total monthly income ranges between OMR300 to OMR 400 at the time of application for registration. The total monthly income of the loan applicant at the time of selection for the loan program should not exceed OMR500. In case the applicant's wife is also working, their total combined monthly income should not exceed OMR600. For artisans, their income shall be assessed by calculating their average monthly income during a single year, provided that this income should be in the range of the amount at the time of selection.

The value of the loan provided for the purpose of building or purchasing a new house or expanding an existing house will be OMR30,000, which is to be settled in monthly instalments not exceeding 20 per cent of the borrower's total income.

In 2013, the MoH granted about 1,090 housing loans valued at more than OMR22 million to persons eligible for the soft housing loan program. The number of loans granted under the soft housing loan program across the various governorates totalled 141 in the Muscat Governorate; 145 in the Dhofar Governorate; 122 in the Musandam Governorate; 21 in the Al-Buraimi Governorate; 168 in the Al-Dakhiliyah Governorate; 133 in the Al-Batinah North and South Governorates; 57 in the Al-Sharqiyah South Governorate; 107 in the Al- Sharqiyah North Governorate; 57 in the Al-Dhahirah Governorate and 6 in the Al-Wusta Governorate.

Sixth: Project for Building Residential Units:
The MoH continues to carry out projects for building residential units in various governorates of the Sultanate as part of its efforts to provide suitable accommodation for all members of the community.   

The MoH carries out these projects with the objective of providing stability to the country's citizens and connecting them with their original villages, in addition to contributing to the development of local communities in various districts and villages.

First: Progress of project for building residential units:
Currently, the MoH is building 378 residential units, mosques, public sittings and other facilities, valued at more than OMR15 million and 369,000, across different governorates of the Sultanate, including:-

Construction of 183 residential units, a mosque and public sitting in the Wilayats of Al-Amerat and Bausher in the Muscat Governorate, valued at about OMR9 million.

Residential units totalling 66 were constructed at Al-Nahdah District in the Wilayat of Al-Amerat, valued at more than OMR1.5 million and 20 at the Al-Mahaj District in the same Wilayat, valued at OMR642,650.  

Work is currently underway for constructing 97 residential units, a mosque and a public sitting in the Wilayat of Bausher, valued at OMR 6 million, 794 thousand and OMR684. The break-up of the construction of 31 residential units and a public sitting at the Wilayats of Bahla, Adam and Nizwa in the Al-Dakhiliyah Governorate, valued at OMR1,000000 million and 189,980 is as follows:-  

In the Wilayat of Bahla, 15 residential units have been constructed at the Al-Qassebah village, valued at OMR420,537.

In the Wilayat of Adma, 16 residential units have been constructed at the Borhan village, valued at OMR 383,760.

Work is currently underway for constructing a public sitting at Seeh Qatnah area in the Wilayat of Nizwa at Jebel Akhdar, valued at OMR385,683.

Work is presently underway for constructing 38 residential units and a mosque at Al-Hawayah village in the Wilayat of Bidayah at Al-Sharqiyah North Governorate, valued at OMR 1 million and 175,237.

33 residential units and a mosque are being constructed at Arrab village in the Wilayat of Jalan Bani Bou Ali at the Al-Shrqiyah South Governorate, valued at OMR1 million and 100,360.

93 residential units are being constructed in the Al-Wusta Governorate, valued at about OMR3 million. The break-up is as follows:

Work is currently underway in the Wilayat of Mahout for constructing 37 residential units and other public facilities at Mudirah village, valued at OMR1 million and 188,398.

Work is also underway for constructing 6 residential units at Wadi Seel, valued at OMR141,650. At the Sarrab village, work is underway for constructing 20 residential units and other public facilities, valued at OMR724,528. At the Al-Jawba village, work is underway for constructing 30 residential units and public facilities, valued at OMR904,798.   

Second: Project for building residential units completed in 2014:
The MoH completed the construction of 130 residential units, 23 twin villas, mosques and public sittings in some governorates of the Sultanate, valued at more than OMR4 million. A break-up of the work is as follows:  

The construction of 46 residential units and 23 twin villas were completed in the Muscat Governorate, valued at OMR1 million and 406,460. In the Wilayat of Seeb, the MoH completed the construction of 26 residential units and 13 twin villa units at the Al-Khoudh District, valued at OMR778,621.

The MoH completed the construction of 20 residential units and 10 twin villa units at the Halban District in the same Wilayat, valued at OMR627,839.

The construction of 12 residential units, a mosque and public sitting was completed in the Al-Dakhiliyah Governorate, valued at OMR476,135. A break-up of the work is as follows:   

In the Wilayat of Bahla, the construction of a mosque and a public sitting was completed at Al-Qaseebah Village, valued at OMR163,450.

In the Wilayat of Nizwa, the construction of 12 residential units at Al-Owainah Village was completed, valued at OMR312,685.

The construction of 72 residential units and a public sitting was completed at Al-Fee Village at the Wilayat of Mahda in Al-Buraimi Governorate, valued at OMR2 million and 784,325.

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