Rental market in Oman crushed by expat exodus

Published:  21 Mar at 6 PM
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A noticeably steady decline in the numbers of expat professionals living and working in the emirate has seen rental prices over the past year fall by between 10 and 15 per cent.

Oman’s rental market has traditionally relied on expat professionals arriving to work in the emirate, but Omanization policies have seen increasing numbers of foreign experts leaving the country for friendlier climes. The exodus is also having an effect on the values of investment properties, with buy-to-let landlords cutting prices to achieve fast sales.

At the present time, the least affected rental sectors are those in which landlords have been quick to respond to the changes by charging less rent and offering enhanced maintenance services. In addition, better locations such as Al Khuwayr, CBD and Qurm are seeing fewer vacant properties, whereas areas beyond Oman’s international airport, in Wadi Kabir and Ghala are emptying fast. In Oman, the property market is inextricably linked to the jobs market, with the total number of expats now employed standing at 1,787,447 as against last December’s 1,854,880.

Another indication of waning expat interest in the emirate is that enquiries for vacant properties are coming from employed expatriates looking to move to cheaper accommodation rather than from new arrivals looking to rent. The government is putting the decline in the property market down to an increase in the numbers of locals now employed in jobs formerly held by expats, but experts believe this isn’t the full story as other indicators suggest the sector is in trouble.

The shrinking rental market is being seen by lawmakers as the result of a successful Omanization of the workforce, but the fact that office rentals are also in decline and major banks are relocating to other destinations would seem to reinforce Oman’s growing unpopularity with not only talented expatriates but also hard-nosed commercial enterprises.
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