x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Oman pins holiday plans on a revival

Oman has not been able to fulfill its dream of developing as an international vacation home destination.

Two years ago Oman was on the verge of developing into a global residential tourist destination.

Integrated Tourism Complexes, approved by the government in 2006, opened up designated projects to international buyers, fuelling the development of several large master-planned resorts.

But the economic crisis put the brakes on Oman's entrance into the global holiday home market.

Today many of those projects have either been delayed or cancelled. International interest has waned, with most sales made to locals, said Philip Paul, the head of the Oman office for Cluttons.

"Volumes are still low," said Mr Paul, who described the market as "less than buoyant".

Prices have declined "sharply" since 2008, according to a recent Cluttons research report. Although the market has stabilised in recent months, Cluttons believes the market has yet to hit bottom, and it forecasts a "continued but gradual softening of secondary market values over the coming months".

But Cluttons reports that there are signs of movement. There has been increased activity in secondary sales and the consultancy expects the market to accelerate this year.

The completion of a new expressway has helped to make projects such as The Wave and the Muscat Hills Golf & Country Club in outlying areas more accessible to people who work in Muscat, said Mr Paul.

"We're seeing a shift in the geographic focus of the city out to the airport," Mr Paul said.

The first phase of construction is almost complete on Muscat Hills, a development that also includes a five-star hotel. The Wave and Muscat Hills are well positioned for sales when the market recovers, said Mr Paul. "Muscat Hills and The Wave will see demand because they are ahead of the market," he added.

Cluttons expects a launch this year for Saraya Bandar Jissah, a development covering 2.2 million square metres on a bay east of Muscat. The project is a joint venture between Saraya and Omran, the ministry of tourism's development arm.

There has also been movement on Salam Yiti, a project planned to include 2,000 residential units, four hotels, a marina and a golf course, Cluttons reports.

Construction work is expected to resume this year after the developer Sama Dubai agreed to let Omran take a larger management role, according to Cluttons.