FORWARD MOMENTUM

Oman 2016 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Nasser Masoud Al Sheibani, Acting CEO of Al Mouj Muscat, on projects and initiatives, rebranding, and the tourism sector.

Nasser Masoud Al Sheibani
BIOGRAPHY
Nasser Masoud Al Sheibani was recently appointed Acting CEO of Al Mouj Muscat, Oman’s pioneering integrated tourism complex, after serving as CFO of the company since 2014. Nasser has over 15 years of experience in property development, hotels, banking, and oil and gas sectors. Through this experience, he has developed significant skills in management, strategy, information technology, human resources, asset management, funding, equity raising, and finance and accounting. Nasser graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from Sultan Qaboos University, attended various executive education and leadership programs, and is currently participating in the National CEO program delivered by IMD & McKinsey.

Looking back over the past year, what have been the most important projects and initiatives that Al Mouj Muscat has been involved in?

The last nine months have been particularly busy and extremely successful for Al Mouj Muscat. There have been a number of significant milestones including record sales, sell-out releases such as The Gardens, and the addition of new leisure and lifestyle experiences to the community Master Plan, such as the Health Precinct at the Walk. Of course, a significant development during the last year has been the rebranding process we have recently completed, transitioning from The Wave, Muscat to Al Mouj Muscat. The new brand recognises the project's maturity and is a celebration of the depth of our Arabian heritage and character. It also marks our evolution as a benchmark for property development in the country and as a model for public-private cross-border collaboration, as demonstrated by the Omani Government, Tanmia, and Majid Al Futtaim Properties, a partnership that provides the solid foundation underpinning our community's continued growth. In Arabic, mouj means not only a wave, but also mobility and force, a concept that more appropriately represents how Al Mouj Muscat provides a platform of opportunities and momentum for growth for other businesses.

What is the potential for Al Mouj to expand its partnerships and corporate client base?

Institutional investors are becoming more discerning in the type of assets and locations they are prepared to invest in and there has been a lot of interest for emerging opportunities. Al Mouj Muscat is one of the region's leading communities, making it an attractive destination to consider investing in. Al Mouj provides the opportunity to invest in multiple asset classes, including residential, tourism, retail, and commercial with yields that are attractive compared to alternative investment options.

What is your current background of occupants? What are your targets in demographics?

42% of our buyers are Omani, a further 25% are expats living in Oman, and the balance is expats outside of Oman. We have a balanced demographic of buyers at Al Mouj and it is exactly in line with the initial plan. As for buyers or renters, when the development first kicked off it was 80% investors and only 20% owners/occupiers. Now, the figure for owners/occupiers is close to 40% and above, which is a fantastic achievement for the project. It underpins the future value, whereby the local population of Omanis and also expats believe and see the value in an integrated community such as Al Mouj.

Al Mouj is the first ITC to cooperate closely with Haya Water to promote clean waste management. Can you discuss the details of this partnership?

All our operations from the community through to the Almouj Golf and Almouj Marina have developed and implemented environmental management plans for their respective operations. This has been further reinforced by Almouj Golf and Almouj Marina being the first in the region to be accredited by their respective industries for their environmental practices.

To what extent is the tourism sector developing in the right manner and at the appropriate pace?

Oman's natural touristic assets have increased the demand from the outside world to visit and have a traditional, authentic Arabic experience. The challenge for the industry is to develop the necessary infrastructure and services to support the necessary levels of tourism. While that is happening across all different levels, from five- to three-star hotels, the challenge is implementing it quickly. With the opening of the new airport in 2016, a new phase will begin for Muscat and Oman in general. A balance is required, as hotels have to match the experiences and consumer demand. Oman is trying to attract the top end of the tourism sector and, to that end, there is more development of four- and five-star hotels taking place. Diversification is important, but the government's viion is to attract the top end and to provide quality experiences within the country's natural assets.