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Urban Oman Exhibition Panel 12 - Driving Forces 3



DRIVING FORCE: Housing Policy Housing policy has been redefined in 1991 within the Muscat Area Housing Study carried out based on comprehensive surveys. A main goal of the Omani Government is to allow all Omani citizens to build their own house. Thus land is granted to them forming part of a public welfare system of the Sultanate. Housing Banks have been established to grant long term loans for construction of new houses or the purchase of existing ones. Social housing is provided to those Omani Citizens in need for. The Non Omani nationals (meanwhile (2012) more than 50% of the total population in Muscat Governorate) are excluded from the right to own property in the country, except in ITCs. Private sector activities however are essential for the implementation of the Omani housing policy. The land allocation system allows the plot owner to either built up his or her plot right after allocation or to wait two years before he or she may sell the plot on a free /private estate market. Many plot owners speculate on land. Land prices rapidly grow on the market as soon as the land is going to be serviced by roads and other infrastructure. This policy has led to a dual land market, on one hand side land is distributed practically for free and on the other hand land is sold on a highly speculative market. DRIVING FORCE: Priority for Road infrastructure Policies followed during the past four decades have been focussing on what might be called ’catching-up development’. Development in this sense meant rapid growth and expansion to improve the country’s lacking basic infrastructure, social and health facilities, as well as modern government and administration structures. This development is based on the discovered oil and gas reserves and thus opening a prosperous future. One major concern has been given in all five-year plans to the expansion and improvement of the road network. The priority for roadway projects and counts for high state expenses every year. DRIVING FORCE: Land allocation system Land for residential settlements in Oman is granted to Omani Citizens according Land Law. Land dedicated to residential development is divided into plots of in general 600 sqm. Very often in recent years, the plots stay practically unserviced for a long period, Plots are than distributed by lottery to persons who are eligible. This procedure developed in the early 1970ies to implement a social welfare system of land granting to Omani Citizens is nowadays hampering social equity among the urban Society: As land is only given to Omani Nationals and Non Nationals are not allowed to possess land (except in ITCs ) The system of land-allocation by lottery is socially unfair. Poor and middle income Omanis cannot develop the land according to their needs and often sell it at low prices. The land-allocation by lottery distorts the real-estate market, leads to massive land speculation and creates an ever larger demand for new land. The land-allocation by lottery cannot meet the future demand with the current demographic development. This procedure doesn’t allow to distinguish between people who are really in need and those who share already five or six plots within the family, it does not take into consideration the size of the familiy nor does it allow a choice of the plot’s location.
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