Oman considers easing property buying rules for expats

Currently foreigners in the country are only allowed to acquire property in defined tourism communities

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Oman is considering plans to allow foreigners to buy property outside of integrated tourism complexes, according to reports.

Times of Oman quoted Mohammed Al Ghassani, deputy chairman of advisory body Majlis Al Shura as calling for changes in the law to boost the country’s housing market and its economy, which has been hit hard by the drop in oil prices.

Read: S&P cuts Oman’s credit rating to junk as cheap oil shrinks external reserves

“We must allow expatriates in Oman to own property outside ITCs under certain conditions,” he was quoted as saying.

“There is a lot of money flowing out of Oman. Why don’t we try and keep this money inside the country. If we give expats an option to buy houses, it is their investment and they would not want to leave.”

Currently foreigners in the country are only allowed to acquire property in defined tourism communities where prices are typically high compared to the wider market.

This stands in contrast to other markets like Dubai, where foreign buyers account for the majority of real estate transactions.

Read: Real estate transactions in Dubai hit Dhs259bn in 2016

Al Ghassani said there were at least 60,000 to 70,000 expats in the country with up to OMR50,000 ($130,000) to spend on property.

Siham Al Harthy, director general of real estate development at the country’s Ministry of Housing, was quoted as saying the ministry was in the initial stages of discussing changes to ownership restrictions but said law changes would be needed.

“There are a few issues with it such as residency to expats, which may take time,” he said.

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