Oman has been in the spotlight a lot this year. It has everything for the modern global traveller who is looking for their second or third residence abroad, boasting five star restaurants, hotels and spas, impressive golf courses, adrenaline fuelled sporting activities – all with the versatility of being able to get from the incredible beaches and clear waters to the mountains to the desert in one afternoon.
Modern in outlook but with an ancient face, many people are waking up to the realisation that Oman, with its reputation for political stability and moderation, is the perfect winter sun destination. The peaks and valleys are made for hiking, and heights of 6,500 feet above sea level make them prime ground for altitude training; savvy divers already know that the sea off the tip of the Arabian Peninsula claims some of the best and most underrated diving spots in the world. If you plan your trip between March and May, you’ll catch rose season – when the hills erupt under a blanket of crimson.
Muscat Bay, Oman’s award-winning $600million development, now welcomes residents this year to its impressive portfolio of properties to buy. Simon Jackson, Head of Property at Beyond Bespoke, talks to CEO Sheikh Hamood Bin Sultan Al Hosni, about the impressive range of properties on offer at Oman’s newest luxury address in Muscat.
The masterplan looks very impressive. Can you describe the types of residential properties for sale?
Muscat Bay is an Integrated Tourism Complex project (ITC) located on the north east coast of Oman – 15 minutes from Muscat’s city centre and 30 minutes from Oman’s international airport – and is made up of two beachfront hotels, a recreational centre, private park with a pool, children’s play and fitness areas, and walkways and 435 unique residential properties in five luxury residential zones – Wajd Grand Hilltop Villas, Nameer, Zaha, Na’eem and Safa.
The Wajd Residences, for example, are located on the highest developed point on the project with some of the most spectacular uninterrupted views in Muscat, and will feature exclusive villas, each with access to the hotel’s facilities and five-star services. They are the ultimate in lifestyle and luxury, offering panoramic sea and coastal views from their unique hilltop position.
The villas in Nameer are on an island with gardens running down to an iconic lagoon, each with their own stunning infinity pool. These villas are available in three and four bedroom configurations and not only offer the lagoon front aspect but also stunning views of the Al Hajar mountain range and close proximity to the beachfront, as well as an exclusive feeling of privacy.
Zaha, meanwhile, has a range of apartments, villas and duplexes perched on the side of the mountain, with views of the landscaped park, lagoon and white sand beaches of the Sea of Oman.
Tell us a little more about the hotels…
The two five-star beachfront hotels will be operated by the world-famous high-end resort operator, Jumeirah Group and will deliver an authentic Omani experience for guests. Between them they will have 280 rooms, including a beachfront ballroom for weddings and events, international cuisine restaurants and venues for sports activities, including a diving centre, however they will both present an entirely different and unique offering.
The first hotel will be a resort style property framed into the mountain to the east of the beach, with all 206 keys capturing spectacular sea views, while the second is a boutique offering, with only 74 keys, broken down into small clusters all located in three distinct levels on the cliff face, whose design is in line with the history of the site and the history of Oman.
What has been the inspiration behind the design vision?
We have taken inspiration from the Omani-style villages and historical buildings like forts and castles as well as ancient cities like Misfat Al Abriyeen and created accommodation that embraces different types of local living – mountain, garden, island and farm. Drawing on traditional local architecture – whether it’s a duplex, apartment or villa – each will have a modern, luxurious edge, while preserving the mountainous topography of the site and the environment, in order to seamlessly blend together our contemporary design while still maintaining its stunning natural beauty.
What makes Oman so special?
The Sultanate of Oman has received a lot of attention in recent years. It is one of the most stable, peaceful regions in the Middle East, which makes it an attractive proposition to investors, and of course there’s the friendliness of its people and the natural beauty of its landscape.
How has the project embraced sustainability issues?
We are only building on 20 per cent of the overall land to minimise the effect on the natural environment. In addition, both hotels will have green roofs along with solar panelling for water heating. Our Senior Design Manager, Ashraf Mahmoud has carefully selected the construction material in line with the international sustainability requirements. The project has aimed to ensure that the indigenous flora and fauna, as well as the geological treasures of the landscape are protected during construction and after commissioning. Additionally, over half of the development materials such as cabling and wiring, window materials and marble are locally-sourced, positioning Muscat Bay as a proudly Omani development.
What are the additional benefits of owning a property in Muscat Bay?
Any expat who buys a property at Muscat Bay will have a lifetime visa to enter Oman for them and their immediate family. It also provides them with the benefit of having an Omani bank account. For many, this is a strong incentive. Omani residency and freehold title were assured by Royal Decree, and with a legal system based on citizen law, buying in Oman provides investors and their family with the most secure investment in the region, offering benefits such as high rental yields, 0% personal income tax rate, and capital growth opportunities. Residents from over 15 nations have purchased properties already.
When is the best time of year to visit Oman?
The best months are between October and March when the temperatures are around 20-30C. In the summer months temperatures can rise to 40-48C which, although too hot for some people, is loved by others, especially with the beach so close by!
Dubai has long been a draw for British expats. How does Oman compare?
While Dubai is more of a global city with its skyscrapers and man-made islands, in Oman you will feel a sense of real local culture and history, with views of jagged peaks and white sand beaches. Instead of shopping for the latest diamond-encrusted sports car or luxury watch, you can enjoy a cup of karak chai, their signature tea which boasts flavours of cardamon, cinnamon and ginger. In terms of flight times from the UK to Oman, at around seven hours, it is roughly comparable with Dubai.
And finally, have you been experiencing strong international interest?
Yes, after initially marketing Muscat Bay locally in Oman and the region, we rolled it out to Asia, and we are now receiving enquiries from the rest of the world. Twelve different nationalities now own properties at the resort and with properties ranging from a small apartment to a spacious luxury villa, there is accommodation to suit all budgets. As many investors are now finding, Muscat Bay is the perfect place to escape and unwind and enjoy the Omani scenery, hospitality and way of life. It is truly a one-of-a-kind development.
If you would like to register your interest please call Simon Jackson on 0203 3274006