What were the highlights of 2019, and how do they reflect the major trends in Oman's real estate sector?
In 2019, Muriya's total investments reached USD750 million. Our two destinations, namely Hawana Salalah and Jebel Sifah, feature a number of four- and five-star hotels, with a total capacity of 1,200. We recently expanded the Fanar Hotel & Residences in Hawana Salalah, adding 177 rooms. On the real estate front, in 2019 we delivered 600 units ahead of schedule. Additionally, in Jebel Sifah we launched 230 freehold beachfront properties. Jebel Sifah is fast growing as a second-home and weekend retreat, yet more and more people are deciding to live there and commute to Muscat. The government has been investing in infrastructure, and it is only a matter of time before Jebel Sifah will become an integral part of the city. In Hawana Salalah, we launched 235 units in 2019 as part of the Forest Island project, which we started in 2018. Its construction is underway and set for on-time delivery in 2020. We have noticed that an increasing number of tourists who repeatedly visit Hawana Salalah end up buying properties there. Such examples of FDI will undoubtedly have a positive, trickle-down effect on the economy. Such investors will visit Oman more regularly and also bring more tourists to the country. We are currently working on developing more hotels in Salalah. These developments reflect our commitment to the growth of Oman's tourism segment. Oman is becoming more well known internationally, especially in the high-end tourist market, which will remain the main target of Salalah since the rates are higher compared to other destinations in the region.
Looking at your current model, what aspects require extra focus and efforts to contribute to the overall development of the Omani economy?
Our projects are of a long-term nature; therefore, we have to continuously invest and develop to entice residents and tourists. Eventually, these destinations become small tourist towns, opening up increasing opportunities for SMEs to provide goods and services, such as transportation, sightseeing trips, locally grown fruit and vegetables, and construction materials. Hawana Salalah boasts several such examples, most notably a Dhofari SME that started off with one fishing boat. In a span of five years, the SME has grown to eight boats and 50 employees.