Oman Property Buyers’ Guide
Jan 6, 2022
Oman Property Buyers’ Guide
Oman is an excellent place to buy property. It’s cheaper than other Middle Eastern cities like Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi and it isn’t quite as strict as other surrounding countries. Plus, it has a large expatriate population so you won’t feel out of place! This guide will outline the history, geography and culture of the region, what types of property you can expect to get involved with, and some administrative factors you’ll need to think about.
Starting around 125,000 years ago, Oman was one of the original locations for ancient human migration outside Africa and we know this based on the stone tools unveiled in the region. Little is known from this point to the coming of Ibai Islam as there aren’t any records or other substantial evidence left behind. Whilst we know the Yaarubah were the first settlers in Oman from Yemen, it’s more difficult to determine whether the Persians brought the region under their control.
Oman is unique because it’s the only Ibadi-majority Muslim country in the world. Ibadi is a moderately conservative branch of Islam in which the ruler has absolute authority. From the tenth to fifteenth centuries, local powers and Arabic empires vested for power in the region until the Portuguese took the region in the early sixteenth century. When this was gradually retrieved, Oman became a colonial power by taking Portuguese territories and engaging in the slave trade. The country continued to prosper until the mid-nineteenth century when the British banning of the slave trade undermined its prospering economy, causing an economic crash amid a split monarchy.
Since then, the country has modernised to the extent that in 2010 the United Nations Development Programme nominated it the most improved nation in the world over the course of the preceding 40 years. It’s now categorised as a high-income economy and it has a significant banking presence for the rest of the Middle East. However, it’s relatively cheaper and more liberal than its surrounding countries.
Geography and Weather
Oman sits in the most south-easterly point of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders Yemen to the southwest, Saudi Arabia to the West and the United Arab Emirates to the northwest. Generally, Oman’s climate is very hot in the interior with huge desert plains at the centre, and more humid along the coastlines past the mountains. There’s little rainfall in Oman because, along with the rest of the Persian Gulf, it’s one of the hottest areas in the world. For example, in Qurayyat in 2018, at 42.6°, the record for the highest minimum temperature for a 24 hour period was broken. More broadly, where temperatures in northern Oman average 30 to 40°C, they average 20 to 30°C in Salalah in the South.
The biodiversity in Oman is unique, to say the least. Oman is home to 9 endangered mammals, 5 endangered bird species and 19 plants. Indigenous mammals include the leopard, hyena, wolf and ibex (a type of wild goat), as well as birds like the vulture, eagle, falcon and bee-eater. Oman has since developed a reputation as a new hot spot for whale watching, as it’s home to multiple pods of the critically endangered Arabian Humpback whale, which are the only non-migratory whale species in the world!
Oman is a great place to live because it has such a dense and extensive culture. Demographically, just over half of its population is Omani and the rest are expatriates and 43% of the country is under the age of 15, making it a particularly young country by average age. Of this population, a huge 86% are Islamic with 6.5% being Christian and 5.5% Hindu. It’s a fairly tribal society with tribal identity and the Ibadi faith being the first two major groups and the third being maritime traders, largely associated with Muscat and the rest of the northern coast.
In terms of linguistics, the country has a number of dialects including Peninsular, Dhofari, Gulf and Omani Arabic variations. Bulchi is another language frequently spoken in the country and English is often taught at schools.
Because of its very mixed imperial legacy, Oman has a diverse music scene which often entails a lot of dancing and the recitation of poetry. In terms of sports, football and tennis are very popular national sporting passions.
Regarding travel, public transport is unreliable so it’s likely you’ll need to source some form of four-wheeled driving car. Whilst this will be costly, the price for fuel is relatively cheap compared to Western countries.
In Oman, the main meal of the day is eaten around midday with the evening meal being a bit lighter. ‘Shuwa’, grilled meat, is one of Oman’s core dishes and it’s often infused with lots of spices and herbs. Another key meal is ‘Majboos’, which is rice cooked with saffron in spicy red or white meat, accompanied by cashew nuts, peanuts, raisins and other dried fruit. Dates are such a staple food for Oman that it’s become a sort of unofficial ‘national food’.
Typical Property Types
With the introduction of ‘Vision 2020’, the ability for foreigners and expatriates to buy property and land in the region is dramatically easing. This is in an effort to avoid an overdependence on the oil and gas industry by encouraging foreign investment into other businesses and the property sector. It first shifted to allowing the purchase of property in certain areas like ITCs (Integrated Tourism Complexes) and this is being further broadened to anywhere in Oman in the future. This is generating a real-time boom in the housing market, making it a great time to buy in!
The Four Main ITCs:
Al Mouj (The Wave): This is the most premium ITC in Oman and it’s located closest to the international airport. There are a variety of property types up for grabs in this ITC.
Muscat Hills: It has more affordable housing options and a golf course but it’s generally regarded as a bad investment given the alternatives that are available.
Muscat Bay: This is located between two cliffs with a view of the Gulf of Oman whilst being close enough to Muscat for a short commute.
Jebel Sifah: Jebel Sifah is a bit further out than the other options but, as a complex, it’s more successful than Muscat Hills and Muscat Bay with similarly low prices. Plus, it’s more idyllic.
As with anywhere, the types of property that are available depends largely on where you’re looking.
If restricted by budget, some will opt to buy a compact apartment in the middle of Oman’s capital, Muscat. However, there are also luxury townhouses and villas available. Some of these include a swimming pool, driveway and perimeter wall. Villas are particularly popular along the shoreline by Muscat but they do come with a high price tag.
Administrative Factors to Think About
If you’re looking to buy property in Oman then there are a few administrative factors you’ll want to turn your attention to in advance, and these include:
Visa: To apply for a visa, you’ll need to be 21. In order to obtain this visa, which you’ll need in order to purchase property, you’ll need the following: a copy of your passport, a valid labour or resident card, a copy of your lease agreement, proof of your income, and two coloured passport photos.
National ID Card: To get a National ID Card, you’ll need your passport, a medical certificate, a completed visa application form, a work permit with clearance from the Ministry of Manpower, and a letter from your employer.
Moving Costs: If you’re moving to Oman permanently then you’ll likely have a fair amount of personal belongings and maybe even furniture to move. You’ll want to consider this for a little while before you move, making sure you’re getting a good deal with a reputable removals service.
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