Oman considers freeing up its housing market to expats

Published:  10 Jun at 6 PM
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Oman’s Ministry of Housing is considering plans to allow expats to purchase homes outside the country’s integrated tourist complexes.

Should the plan go ahead, expats who’ve until now been restricted in their choice of districts in which to purchase homes will be allowed to buy properties in other areas of the sultanate. According to the Times of Oman, a Ministry of Housing representative told reporters the country’s Real Estate Association is pushing for reforms to the present system.

At present, foreigners living and working in the sultanate are only allowed to buy homes in gated tourist complexes, most of which are priced well out of the reach of all but highly paid expats. The ministry was quoted as saying studies are underway concerning the freeing up of other areas to allow purchase by the foreign workforce. However, there is no time frame in place at present, as a number of different authorities would need to approve the plan.

Association spokesperson Hassan Juma said the proposal needs to be on a basis of real demand rather than simply speculation, adding that the real estate market would receive a boost should the plan be introduced. Home ownership, he believes, would allow expats to contribute more to the sultanate’s economy.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s recently announced expat tax proposal is now unlikely to be imposed in the near future. The idea, announced as part of the kingdom’s National Transformation Plan, still needs to be fully discussed as regards its effect on the Saudi labour market after economists said it would reduce competitiveness.

Another issue is that an expat tax would likely be remitted by employers rather then workers, with the resultant passing on of the tax to consumers. Employers themselves may find it harder to fill both high and low-waged positions should the tax be introduced.The National Transformation Plan is aimed at ending the kingdom’s dependence on oil revenues, and follows the recent drastic drop in crude prices.
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