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Sat 8 May 2004 04:00 AM

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Oman expats expect freehold law

GCC nationals were allowed earlier this year to own freehold property

Expectations are growing that Oman will soon issue a law that will allow non-GCC expatriates to own freehold property in the sultanate.

In February, Oman issued a decree allowing nationals from the five other Gulf Cooperation Council countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to own residential real estate.

“GCC citizens are allowed to rent and own built real estate or land for the purpose of residence or investment in any member state and shall be treated as citizens of the state where the real estate is situated,” says the decree, based on an accord by GCC states on cross-border real estate ownership signed in Doha in December 2002.

Later that month Oman’s tourism undersecretary Mohsin bin Khamis Al Balushi, hoped that the permission for foreigners to own real estate would be issued in about a month’s time by the sultanate’s Minister of Electricity, Water and Housing.

Dr Reinhart Lutz of the CII Group & ME Strategy Consultants, which is advising the government on selecting a strategic partner for The Wave project, said: "The Omani government is expected to issue a new royal decree any time now allowing expatriates to own properties in Oman on a freehold basis.

"The government has realised that in order to spur the growth and development of the country's property and tourism, it needs to extend freehold ownership to the large expatriate community. This will spur investment and development in these sectors," he said.

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