Plans are underway to allow expats in Oman to own hundred percent of their own property, the government has announced.
The move was announced as part of the country’s Tanfeedh plans for economic expansion, which is being overseen by the state’s Implementation, Support and Follow-up Unit (ISFU), which listed it as one of its key performance indicators (KPIs) in its 2018 Annual Report.
The plan is to be run in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Legal Affairs, with 2019 expected to see the leasehold of properties by foreign nationals, as well as the scope of this initiative.
Under the indicator, titled “Allow 100 percent foreign individuals ownership of property based on regulations,” the report says, “Foreign ownership of property will attract foreign capital to the local market and replenish the domestic real estate market. Overall, this will have a positive impact on the investment environment in the Sultanate.”
“ISFU offered their guidance throughout the process and strongly encouraged the initiative owner to pursue the issuance of the ministerial decision and follow up the issuance of the royal decree,” said the report. “In 2019, the aim is to issue the regulatory decision to allow leasehold of properties for foreign individuals and define the permitted scope.”
According to ISFU, there were several challenges to overcome to see this initiative passed through.
“There were several challenges to overcome to see this initiative passed, the first of which was a debate on whether the directive would be issued in the form of a ministerial decision or a royal decree,” said the ISFU report. “A ministerial decree would only allow leasehold of properties without actual ownership. Conversely, a royal decision permitting foreign ownership of properties is the sole approach for foreigners to own freehold real estate outside of Integrated Tourism Complexes (ITCs).”
Shashwar Al Balushi, the head of the Tanfeedh Labour Labs, said that currently, expats and foreigners were only allowed to own properties in certain areas of the country.
“When it comes to property, this is for individuals,” he explained. “This is for residences. This is the ownership of residences by foreigners. Currently, expats can only own properties in certain designated areas.”
He also shed light on the current state of business ownership in the Sultanate.
“At the moment, when it comes to companies, Omanis can own up to 30 percent of a company, and foreigners can own 70 percent, but when it comes to the Special Economic Zones such as a free zones, then foreigners can own 100 percent of the company,” he added. “That is available at the moment.”
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