Muscat: Affordable housing complexes are needed in the Sultanate to overcome the high costs of constructing individual housing units, speakers at the Oman Real Estate Conference said.
Any Omani national should be able to construct individual houses on plots of land, which are either bought or given by the government; however this construction often costs more and is without a well deliberated design, Rashid Al Masalti, chief executive officer of National Mass Housing said at the conference.
He further said that if private companies take the initiative of developing well-planned housing complexes, it could cost and offer the city more energy savings.
“Integrated Housing Complexes are a solution to the problem of high costs of building houses,” Al Masalti said.
“Normally, constructing a house costs around OMR60,000, but due to less knowledge of construction, most individuals end up paying OMR80,000 to OMR90,000. Getting finances for such a huge amount is very difficult now so we need to start having housing complexes that have all facilities and modern infrastructure to be as cost effective as possible.”
Although higher in cost, ITCs in Oman have been very popular among Omanis due to the better lifestyle and social life aspects they offer, Siham Al Harthy, director general of Real Estate Development at the Ministry of Housing, said.
“ITC projects have seen better rental rates in a market where prices have gone down dramatically. This is due to the facilities and social circle available in ITCs, which are often not available in other areas. Similar housing projects can be an excellent option for Omanis,” she added.
Earlier in the conference, Mohammed Al Ghassani, deputy chairman of Majlis Al Shura, emphasised on the significance of creating affordable housing for Omanis using technology and urban design.
“I think low cost housing is the key to real estate sector development and also giving Omani citizens what they want. Housing complexes can have a well defined strategy to tackle future issues, such as energy consumption, sustainable material use and reduced costs,” he explained.
Currently, to avoid high land costs, most nationals brave long drives to work by building houses in isolated areas with little modern amenities and sustainable architecture. Moreover, with 54 per cent of the Omani population earning between OMR300 and OMR1,000, according to Al Masalti, this trend needs to change and give Omanis houses they can afford without them having to take loans that they would struggle to pay back.
“If we can have such projects, by involving private sector developers, we can have very good housing societies that are future proof and perfect for Omanis to live in. These complexes will provide amenities like security, modern facilities, contemporary architecture, car parks and much more, something individual houses can’t,” he added.
Al Masalti also said it would be impossible get recreational and other such facilities in a profitable manner to all areas where individual construction is taking place.