Developers in Oman are rethinking strategies, enabling innovation, and integrating smart technologies to create operational efficiencies and improve the quality of life.
Governments across the globe are investing billions of dollars in smart cities, implementing new solutions, and adopting new technologies that have the potential to make urban life more sustainable, connected, and efficient. Oman is one of the countries where municipalities, developers, and planners are employing all the tools at their disposal to meet economic, cultural, and environmental needs of both the present and future.
While the public sector continues to work on executing its mega plan for smart cities, more and more commercial and residential properties in Oman are using technology to execute sustainable community projects and keep up with the ever-changing needs of customers. Selling properties that are packed with cutting-edge technology is nothing new for most real estate developers in the Sultanate. Fully aware of challenges such as higher construction costs, standards, and land prices, real estate developers, including really successful ones, are exploring ways to increase profitability. Developers are increasingly looking to diversify into operating smart buildings instead of leaving the operating part to third parties and as a result missing out on turnover as well as share in a growing segment. In particular, developers of some of the most prominent commercial, residential, and mixed-use projects in Oman are incorporating smart technologies as a means to boost investment appeal, create efficiencies, and capture the opportunity to generate gains by owning important data. By doing so, they are in fact building the Sultanate’s first smart homes and communities. At the heart of this idea are three core elements: people, data, and real estate. And no project has integrated all three elements better than Al Mouj, the first integrated tourism complex (ITC) in Oman. A joint venture between the government of Oman and UAE-based Majid Al Futtaim, Al Mouj opened its doors in 2008 as a mixed-use waterfront development that prioritizes the well-being of its community above everything else. In an interview with TBY, Nasser Al Sheibani, CEO of Al Mouj, said that “innovative communities are the ones that are successful in bringing creative ideas, latest technologies and design to elevate the customer journey. It is always imperative for us as a business to continuously invest in enabling innovative solutions to further enhance the wellbeing of our customers and their experience.” He explained that Al Mouj Muscat regularly maps “customers’ journeys to examine new opportunities and introduce innovative solutions” and uses a place-making concept “to fulfill the diverse needs of its community.” According to Al Sheibani, such innovative concepts have enabled Al Mouj to “build a place where people feel at home and enjoy great moments every day.” Al Mouj Muscat’s agile development model, interlaced with technology and data, is not only able to cater the community’s needs, but also meet the goals of sustainability and new urban agendas. Apart from offering customers the flexibility to plug-in their IoT gadgets, Al Mouj has also invested in smart security solutions, digital meters for district cooling consumption, smart LED lights, and smart irrigation solutions. Another appropriate example is that of Barr Al Jissah’s Al Mina Waterfront Residences and Yacht Club, where all homes are automated, allowing residents to control features such as temperature, lighting, and blinds through an app. Notably, the company offers high levels of customization, even letting people use all the smart functions without going through a centralized system. This is even more significant at a time when factors such as the growth of the IoT sector and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are giving more importance to the role of smart technologies in both new and old urban developments. Data is the new oil and smart buildings produce huge quantities of valuable data that can be analyzed and provided to different stakeholders. But with data concerns on the rise, data ownership must be discussed between all relevant stakeholders, and at the same time, the power of data should be used to find new insights and enable developers to build better buildings for a better future.