Saturday, January 31, 2009

Muscat Festival, Fate of Ex-Head Muscat Municipality's Shatti Building

News remains quite quiet.

Muscat Festival rages, with great free fireworks if you have access to a hillside house in Qurm. For those new to Muscat, I'd advise going at least once. It's a true Omani cultural experience.

Lots of nice comments on the Blue City post. (Love the gratuitous plug Muscati, good luck with that!!! Me too!!!)...

I think in the end we are just going to have to wait a few months and see what movement occurs in the many and varied Oman real estate projects.

Common sense dictates that ANY such real estate project must, wherever it can, pause and take a seriously deep breath right now, no matter how healthy the original business model was. If a big or essential contract is underway, of course you'll let it keep running, but give the invoices and payment milestones extra scrutiny!

Look at all your contracts, update business plans, and most especially have another look at those worst case cashflow projections. Security of senior management golden parachute clauses may be considered too. I'm glad I'm not a contractor in this situation. A contractor now is faced with 2 choices: either perform and risk getting stiffed for far more than you are in the hole already, or don't perform and be held in breach and get definitely stiffed for what you are already in the hole for.

Now, everyone will look at a host of considerations for profit maximization, or loss minimisation... and a lot of land, sunk cost, equity, debt, and cashflow is up in the air. You'd want a very understanding and liquid banker right now. Oh, and limited liability.

Keep the rumours and news coming. I'd take a place in Muscat Hills. And a really cheap foreclosure at the Wave. And many of the small, central, apartment projects should be fine longer term, and should progress now, as they get local funding.

Real estate Deals elsewhere...
Update also on the much talked about everywhere but in the press new office building in Shatti, built by ex-head of Muscat Municipality His Excellency Eng. Abbas. Its a building well known for being unusually high compared to the previous surrounding buildings, including the Hyatt, whose view it did rather taint. Oh, and allegedly built on land originally designated as public park.

My good friend in the Diwan told me that. as it happened, the ex-Chairman had an urge of charity not un-coincidentally around the time of his move to his new role as advisor in the Diwan (dept of Royal Court Affairs), and the building has actually been kindly donated to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, tenants included. A wonderful charitable gesture.

Rumours of it's demolition, a-la mode of another building near the airport owned by someone else who recently departed government office, are (obviously) totally unfounded.


  1. Your source in the Diwan is W R O N G. Wrong. The building was never slated for demolition. It is not built on public property. It is not even in violation of any building codes. Ex-H.E. pushed for a change in regulations to benefit his building so he was allowed to build 5 floors and thereafter anyone in Shatti was given the same benefit. Of course it was a blatant abuse of his position, as was the way he got the title deed of the land on which the building stands, and God knows, maybe even the funding of the building. As a result of all that it was decided to deprive him of the income from this building. Fortunately for him, the decision did not include total outright confiscation of the building without compensation. The building was sold to the Awqaf orphans account for the same amount it cost.

  2. Muscati,

    My Diwan source never said it was scheduled for demolition. I was refering to rumours that have been mentioned elsewhere (incl. on this blog's comments); and there is a connection of sorts between the buildings, and their owners, you must admit.

    In other respects, I agree with your version of events.

    BTW, To whom did the money from the sale of the building go to Muscati?

  3. H.E. the engineer himself, of course. Though I hear he is now (or soon to be) Dr. Engineer. He has used his time off without work to complete his PhD thesis which he had started many years ago and submitted it.

  4. This place never ceases to amaze me. On the one hand everyone talks about 'wasta' as if it is the most done thing and on the other we have close relatives of some ministers behind the bars. In the country where I come from, to have your spouse/kids/close relatives in jail for improper conduct/dealings (most possibly misusing your position) will mean the end of your political career. While I would agree that one should not be made a scapegoat for others' tresspasses there should be an element of accountability for those in positions of power that extends to their close relatives as well.

  5. Muscati is right, the building was never slated for demolition. From what i understand the building is now handed over to the Awqaf of the royal court (they have their own Awqaf dept.) and not to the ministry.
    Ex-H.E. is no longer an employee of Diwan as he was removed from his new post and is now retired (no wonder he did his thesis).

    Originally the owner of Hayat regency asked for the land sometime ago and Ex-H.E. replied that the land is meant to be a children playground and has to remain so. He turned around, a few years later, and took over the land, changed the use to Comm./Resd. with 5 story permission. Regency owner filed a complaint using the original reply letter that he received, and the ball started rolling. Not everyone lived happily ever after ;)

  6. The ex H.E. one hopes, did not sub-contract his thesis

  7. thanks a lot for all for sharing this sort of juicy news.


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