By Claire Valdini
Government move is an attempt to ease housing shortage in Gulf state
Oman will allocate OMR80m
(US$207.7m) annually for affordable housing projects in a bid to ease the Gulf
state’s low-cost housing shortage, the undersecretary at the Ministry of
Housing has said.
The Gulf state awarded
OMR60m to 3,174 people through housing assistance programmes and approved 400
interest-free affordable housing loans totaling OMR7m during 2011 and the first
three months of 2012, said Saif bin Amir bin Sulaiman Al Shaqsi.
“The government, represented
by the Ministry of Housing, has worked on supporting and financing affordable
programmes for low-income and social security families through social housing
programmes.” Al Shaqsi said at the inauguration of Oman’s Affordable Housing
Living costs were a key
issue in the wave of political unrest that swept Bahrain and other Arab states
last year, toppling rulers in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. The MENA region has an
estimated affordable housing shortfall of 3.5 million, pricing homes out of the
reach of many citizens.
Saudi Arabia has the largest
shortfall in the Gulf of 400,000 homes followed by 40,000 homes in Bahrain,
20,000 in the UAE and 15,000 in Oman, according to consultancy Jones Lang
Hundreds of protestors took
to the streets in Oman last February, inspired by pro-democracy revolts that
toppled the rulers of Egypt and Tunisia before spreading to Gulf Arab region.
Several Gulf states have
pledged to ramp up spending on housing in the wake of the
Arab Spring revolutions, in a bid to secure quality housing for their growing
Saudi has pledged to spend
$130bn on social projects such as building low-cost housing and creating jobs,
while King Abdullah in March said he would spend $67bn on 500,000 new homes.
Oman’s Housing Assistance
Programme aims to build and restore houses for families whose monthly income is
less than OMR300 while its Housing Loan Programme provides interest-free loans
not exceeding OMR20,000 for Omani families.