Oman bans expat property ownership in certain areas

The Sultanate of Oman has banned expats from owning agricultural land and real estate in many areas, according to a royal decree by Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

The areas include Dhofar (with the exception of Salalah, Musandam, Buraimi, Al Dhahirah and Al Wusta), Shinas, Liwa, Masirah, Jabal Al Akhdar and Jabal Shams, as well as any other mountains of strategic importance.

Expats in Oman are also prohibited from owning land in islands, sites near palaces and security and military authorities, and archaeological and ancient houses.

Omanis who have had their citisenship withdrawn will be asked to transfer their land if it is located in the above-mentioned areas. The transfer should take place within two years from the date of the nationality loss, but may be extended for a year following approval by the Minister of Housing.

If the owner fails to do so, the ministry will reclaim the land with compensation of the land plot. If the land boasts existing property on undergoing construction, the state will retain the right to sell the land and related works should the owner fail to transfer the land. The sale price, however, would return to the owner of the land.

The law also states that a jail term of between three months to one year, and a fine of between $2,600 (OMR1,000) to $7,800 (OMR3,000) shall be imposed on those who deliberately enter into an illegal ownership contract. Those who use methods of fraud will also be jailed for between six months to two years, and fined between $5,000 (OMR2,000) to $13,000 (OMR5,000).

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