Monday, June 26, 2006

It's about time!

Qurm and PDO

In the 1960's Oman's capital was a wasteland except for Muscat, Matrah and the farms in Seeb. Oil was discovered and PDO came into existence. It was decided that Mina Al Fahal would be the main terminal for oil exports and hence PDO built its offices close by. PDO was also given a mountain (Qurm) and a beach (Sei7 Al Mala7) close by and told to use it for their staff accommodation and leisure facilities. In the 1970's when Oman changed, the other side of Qurm, which wasn't used by PDO, became the area chosen by the crème de la crème for their houses.

For the next thirty years we've had a contrast where one side of the mountain had huge extravagant houses and the other side has a scattering of PDO employee houses which are basically just a step above porta-cabins. Click on the picture above Google Earth image of Qurm to see how one side of the mountain is densely packed and the other is sparse. All these years this oil company has been sitting on some of the most expensive land in the heart of Muscat. If it was up to me I'd have the entire area taken from PDO and given over to some Emaar style tourism or housing development. Of course the people who run PDO are much smarter folks than me, and they're a step ahead. Yesterday PDO signed an MOU with the government-owned Omani Tourism Development Company to undertake a study on how to transfer PDO's housing area into a tourism complex in a way that PDO gets to keep a percentage of the new houses for its staff. So it's win-win for PDO. They get to be part of the redevelopment of the land before someone in the government wakes up and says "hey how come PDO's still sitting on all that prime real estate?" and they get to keep brand spanking new houses for the expat staff (as far as I know Omanis aren't eligible for company housing). [link]


Devilish said...

I keep on wondering about this PDO housing issue ! It's really a waste of valuable land ! It's great that they r on the move at last !!!

3anooda said...

actually Omanis DO get corporate housing if they are eligible but i dont know what the requirements are.

Chulupu said...


Omani are allowed for PDO housing, on condition they take your housing allowance from you and its aint small amount.

However, once an Omani staff reaches group two promotion rank, only than the housing seems attractive, as they get much much bigger houses in PDO, and compare to the allowance they get its worth it. Also omanis in that standard have their own houses already hence they end up renting them and stay in PDO

I was offered a house several month ago, but it was too small for me, plus with the housing allowance I get, I make more money renting a house outside with much bigger space.

But once I get promoted to group two which is more or less one step left, than I may think taking for their offer, especially with the good news you came up with now :)

Arabian Princess said...

I saw you and your wife's picture in Urbane magazine :)

Anonymous said...


PDO was not "sitting" on that land. The land was part of the concession agreement, and PDO need to get special permission if it wants to build any permanent buildings on the concession area, as PDO does not "own" the land, nor does it rent it, thats why the Ras Al-Hamra area is so underdeveloped.

You said that after 1970, the creme dela crem of Omani society moved to Qurum, have you asked yourselfe why? Its PDO, PDO had one of the very early supermarkets that sold western goods at Afmly Shop in Mina Al-Fahal, and one of the first retail banks, as well as the earliest street lighting, if PDO was not where it is now, Qurum woudl not have become what it is now.

muscati said...

Anon - I disagree that the creme of the society chose to live in Qurum because of PDO. They chose it bcz the government designated it as an area for them because it was on a hill and overlooked the sea. It partitioned the area into large parcels and gave it ministers, high government officials and those who are better off.

As for the supermarket, people who wanted western stuff were more likely to shop at Matrah Cold Stores in their main supermarket in Ruwi next to the British Bank of the Middle East and Ramniklal supermarket in Ruwi. Later those same two supermarkets opened in Madinat Qaboos.

In my opinion, Qurum would have become the Qurum that we have now regardless whether PDO was there or not.

Brain Dumps said...

See first time Oman's history. Really interesting.

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