Oman considering loosening expat property purchase rules

Published:  17 May at 6 PM
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Omani lawmakers are considering allowing foreigners living and working in the emirate to purchase homes outside the specially designated integrated tourist complexes.

A recent article in the Oman Times quoted deputy chairman of the Majlis al Shura Mohammed al Ghassani as saying that changes in the rule disallowing expats from buying homes outside the designated complexes would boost the Omani housing market. The emirate’s housing sector has been hard hit by the fall in oil prices, with money flowing out of Oman as a result.

Al Ghassani believes the law change would keep funds inside the country, as property investment would discourage expats from leaving. At the present time, foreigners are restricted to property purchase within designated gated communities where prices are high compared with the market in the rest of the emirate. In other Gulf State communities such as Dubai, foreign workers are allowed to live where they wish, thus providing the majority of property transactions.

However, expats looking for a swift and positive end to the deliberations might well be disappointed, as Ministry of Housing director Siham al Harthy has been quoted as saying the ministry has only just began discussions on the subject of ownership restriction changes. He adds that other issues such as residency are involved, which may take time to resolve.

Meanwhile in Kuwait, reports of the Ministry of Higher Education’s refusal to increase expat salaries have come as a contradiction of another report stating the ministry is planning on appointing expats. Observers are concerned the intention is in violation of the Kuwaitzation policy. The issue arose when an ‘informed source’ leaked that a ministry official had requested medical reports, character certificates and physical fitness certificates for several male and female expats. The documents are essential for the procedure of becoming employees of the ministry.
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