Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Minister of Tourism Extends Her House onto Oil Company land?

A few of my contacts work at Petroleum Development Oman, the big pseudo-National oil and gas company in Oman. Talking over the amber nectar with them recently, they mentioned the big house extension being done in Qurm, right next to the Oil Company camp. Curiously, the house is being extended significantly into the PDO camp area land, and there was an issue with the construction crew working 24/7 and disturbing the residents nearby with their jack hammering and general banging.

The disturbing work going on at all times of the night has now been controlled, but the contractor apparently wasn't too keen to slow down the pace of work. Why? Because the house being extended belongs to Rajha bint Abdulameer bin Ali, the Omani Minister of Tourism .

There was some scuttlebutt from the PDO chaps about this somehow being related to the well advertised ambitions the Ministry of Tourism have to get their hands on the beautiful PDO prime real estate. Naturally, they want to build the usual few 5 star hotels and a massive housing development, golf course, etc. At present, the site is pretty sparsely populated with relatively old houses, occupied by the Expat and Senior Omani staff who work for PDO, which is handily situated just around the corner from the camp. [By the way, the low density, the sidewalks, and the generally more careful driving attitude is perhaps why it is one of the few residential areas in Muscat that is safe and pleasant for an evening stroll, safe for kids to play in, OK for bicycles, etc]. Anyhow, the land has always been owned by the Government, while the Oil Company just has an exclusive license to use it.

There doesn't seem to be any truth what-so-ever to this rumored connection to the MoT redevelopment plans, however, nor to the fact that Rajha is a Minister.

Dragon can reveal the Minister actually obtained the land some 10+ years ago, when she was not a Minister, and long before it was valued at some 1000+ rials per square m. She has owned the house for a long time, and I guess has always wanted to extend.

Interestingly, at the time Her Excellency got permission to take the land, she was a member of PDO’s Board of Directors, and just a humble Undersecretary at the Ministry of National Economy.

So that’s all right then.


  1. Man, how do I get to be a Minister...

  2. Before she was a minister, and before she was even an undersecretary... Her Excellency's husband is himself a wealthy man being the main partner in Fairtrade, one of the largest FMCG distributors in Oman, and Genetco, the agents for brands like Canon, Sanyo and Yamaha in Oman.

    I'd assume the land and the house are actually his, and they in fact probably own them for much more than 10 years. Probably since land was first distributed in Qurm way back in the 1970's.

    I absolutely abhor the fact that PDO's houses are still on that hill on that ultra valuable land. PDO staff, especially the expats, are stuck up enough without living on the best piece of land in Oman.

  3. Thanks Muscati.

    I know the house has been there prob a lot longer than 10 years, its the new land that the house is being extended onto that she got 10 years ago, almost certainly for free.

    PDO staff are, I agree, lucky to live there. I sure wish I did. They aren't all stuck up. Most of the ones I know work seem to damn hard trying to get as much oil out of the ground as they can. If it wasn't for them...

  4. Haha Dragon you crack me up man.

  5. Ali,
    Glad for that.
    What are you studying all the way on the other side of the planet?

  6. I drove past there yesterday. Had a look.

    I wish the MOG and PDO would give me an adjacent parcel of 600+ SQ meters of government land in the choicest real estate in town.

    At today's prices I guess that land would be worth about a million bucks?

    Of course I trust that she paid the going rate for for land at the time to the shareholders in PDO, or to the government?

  7. Suburban - until last year, the going rate for land when you get it from the government was RO. 1 per square meter regardless whether it was in a premium location like Madinat Al A3lam or in bum f#@% nowhere like the end of Madinat Al Nahdha which is closer to Ibra than it is to Muscat.

    It's only this year that the Ministry of Housing has adopted some sort of mechanism for appraising the value of property when allocating it to citizens.


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