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Urban Oman Exhibition Panel 10 - Driving Forces 1



DRIVING FORCE: dynamic population growth Natural population growth and migration have contributed to the fact that “....the total population of the Sultanate has redoubled nearly six times from 50’000 in 1950 to 2’775’878 in 2010.” Although the Governorates of Muscat and Batinah represent merely 5.3% of the total area of the Sultanate, they accommodate about 56% of the total population by nearly 28% of each. The high growth rates plus the concentration of population in the MCA plus the fact that since 2008 also female Omani Nationals are eligible for a granted plot have led to long waiting lists for a plot. About 4000 applications have been registered in only one month in 2011 in Muscat and challenged the Governmental Bodies concerned. In order to meet this extremely high demand for new residential plots the Government had to find new additional land to allocate, which was located far away and people often didn’t wait for the plots being serviced but started to build as soon as possible. Thus fact contributes highly to the patchy structures and to a high consumption of land. DRIVING FORCE: Oil-based economy Oman started recently to reflect on depleating oil reserves. During the past decades however ‚energy saving’ was not on the agenda due the the seemingly never ending fossil resources. Buildings –also residential units- have been erected without using soft measures to save energy. Skills that have been manyfold in the country for climate responsive urban and architectural design have got lost and air condition devices are the predominant way of adapting the non insulated free standing villas, exposed to the difficult climate in the coastal region of Muscat capital area, to a comfortable indoor climate for human beings. Besides the consumption of limited resources, household expenses for electricity are very high and charge the families budget considerably. The state economy is still based to a high degree on oil, though diversifying the economy has become the ultimate development goal for the first time promoted in 1995 the „Vision 2020“ 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. 4. DRIVING FORCE: Physical Urban Planning The guidelines for future urban development patterns have been identified in the Muscat Area Structure Plan, taking the given development trends into consideration when designing future spatial structures until 2010. It has been decided to follow a functional separation, where areas are dedicated to one function only, be it residential, industrial, admininistrative, commercial land use. This generates a need for commuting long distances between residential place and workplace, schools, or shopping, leisure and health care facilities; This creates furthermore empty spaces during night time, when ministries are closed, when workplaces or the banking sector shut down. The basic unit for the residential schemes is the individual family house covering 40 % of the private plot. Low residential densities are the result.
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