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Tue 8 May 2012 09:57 AM

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Oman "a safe haven" for regional investors

The Wave sees a 17 percent lift amid Arab Spring uprisings

Oman "a safe haven" for regional investors
The Wave Muscat development has sold around 25 percent of the total properties, said CEO Michael Lenarduzzi.

Regional buyers at The Wave, a luxury housing project in Oman’s capital, increased 17 percent last year as investors looked to the Gulf state amid the Arab Spring uprisings, its CEO has told Arabian Business.

Buyers from the GCC and wider MENA region accounted for 33 percent of total sales in 2011 with the majority of regional buyers from Kuwait, said Michael Lenarduzzi.

“We have been attracting a lot of regional investment this year [because] Oman is seen as a safe haven. We have had a spike... in sales from the region with Kuwaitis the biggest buyers,” he said.

Demand for properties in Oman waned after the global financial crisis battered neighbouring markets in Dubai and around the Gulf. Tighter lending also reduced sales for Oman property developments, which were mainly geared toward foreign investors and retirees.

A gradual recovery in investor confidence was then further hit by the eruption of anti-government protests in Oman, as citizens called for free elections and more housing and jobs.

Sales at the $3.5bn state-backed project picked up in the second half of the year, said Lenarduzzi.

“Certainly the event of the Arab Spring did have an impact on us. The first half of 2011 we started off very strong and then some of those events happened and sales did stop. Post Ramadan it just came back and…virtually all of our sales last year were done in the second half of the year,” he said.

The Muscat development, which includes 4,000 real estate units, hotels, and a golf course designed by Greg Norman, has sold around 25 percent of the total properties, said Lenarduzzi.

“We have sold around 1-1,000 of the 4,000 properties so we are about quarter of the way through. We have physically delivered around 800-850 and the next 300 in the pipeline will roll out in the next 12 months.”

Demand for villas has remained steady, he added. “We have sold about 500 villas so we only have 500 villas left but apartments we’ve got another 2,5000 so there are a lot of apartments still.”

The Wave, Muscat was the first in the sultanate to allow 100 percent foreign ownership of freehold property.