A government committee is to be established under the auspices of the Tourism Ministry, which will assess requests from developers for their projects to be deemed eligible. Developers of projects already under way, most notably The Wave off the coast of Seeb and Muscat Golf & Country Club, have been eagerly awaiting the law, as foreign ownership is central to their plans to attract investors. The committee is certain to rubber-stamp these schemes.
The law states that ‘integrated’ tourism projects are governed by the rules, defining these as developments where not more than 30 per cent of the land is devoted to real estate. Of that 30 per cent, there is no limit on the amount that can be sold to foreigners. ‘This law is critical for the further development of the sultanate’s tourist industry,’ says Wael al-Lawati, acting chief executive of the local Waterfront Investments
, joint developer of The Wave. ‘Its passage is not just good for our project but provides a major signal to investors.’
Buyers of the land are required by the legislation to develop the land within four years of purchase – to prevent speculation – under threat of repossession by the government, but will be able to sell on their real estate, developed or off-plan. Freehold owners will automatically be granted residency visas for themselves and their spouses and children, regardless of employment status.