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Muscat: Amid the booming realty market in Oman, there is a huge rush among the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) nationals to buy real estate properties in the country. Experts believe that Oman is a safe country for investment.

The environment is also conducive for investment and the property prices are cheaper compared to other GCC neighbours.

An official at the Ministry of Housing told Gulf News that the number of the real estate properties owned by the GCC citizens in various governorates of Oman totalled 3,521 in 2013.

By acquiring 1,850 properties, Kuwaiti nationals come in first place, the Emiratis are second with 1,211, Qataris third with 261, Bahrainis fourth with 117 and Saudi nationals with 82 properties appear last in the list, the official added.


Good returns

The official affirmed that the number of people wanting to own a property in Oman is going up due to good returns and cheaper market as compared to their neighbouring states.

He added that Emiratis own properties in all the governorates of Oman, while other GCC nationals have properties only in some governorates.

The GCC nationals bought 1,615 properties in North Batinah governorate which represents half of the properties bought by them. Economic experts attribute it to the growing number of infrastructure projects under execution in North Batinah which include Sohar Port, Free Zone and the Railway project.

Dhofar governorate comes second with 494 properties, followed by Muscat, South Sharqiyah, South Batinah and Dhakilyah.

Meanwhile, Emiratis own 34 properties of the total 35 properties in the Dhakliyah governorate.

The GCC citizens are allowed to purchase property in member states without restrictions, while expatriates can only buy in freehold areas in states that have such provisions.

The properties given by the Ministry of Housing to the GCC nationals stood at 226 in December 2013 alone, says the official.

With 107 ownerships, Kuwaiti nationals come first, followed by Emirati nationals with 88 ownerships.

Ahmad Al Balsuhi, a real estate expert, told Gulf News that the realty sector in Oman is free of fluctuations due to stability and an ideal investment destination due to the government policies in Oman.

Al Balushi added a series of mega projects across the country for diversifying income sources, especially Sohar Port, Sohar Airport and other infrastructure and tourist projects, have all attracted GCC nationals to own property in Oman.

Meanwhile, to regulate the skyrocketing prices of the land plots, especially in Muscat that have witnessed a huge demand particularly from Omani couples, the Ministry of Housing is going to issue a real estate Index to monitor the undue hike by the unlicensed real estate brokers.

According to Omani Penal Law, those unlicensed real estate brokers would be liable to a jail term of six months and a fine not more than O3,000 Omani riyals.

The volume of real estate transactions in 2013 stood at more than 2 billion riyals, a 34 per cent increase from 2012.