Developers of some of Oman’s most prestigious residential and mixed-use projects are integrating smart technology as a means to create operational efficiencies and increase investment appeal, establishing the sultanate’s first smart cities and smart homes. While smart homes are currently limited to the higher end of the residential market, smart city technology is set to play a significant role in Oman’s largest new urban developments.
Smart homes are characterised by the integration of domestic functionality with mobile technology, while smart cities deploy electronic data collection in urban areas to create operational efficiencies and improve quality of life. A study published by McKinsey Global Institute in June 2018 reported that the use of data and technology in cities can lead to 30-40% fewer crime incidents and a reduction of 15-30 minutes in commute times. The smart home market is tied to the growth of the smart-enabled appliance industry, also known as the internet of things (IoT), with McKinsey predicting growth of 7-15% for the IoT market between 2018 and 2020.
Barr Al Jissah
A comprehensive iteration of smart technology in real estate in Oman can be found at Al Mina Waterfront Residences and Yacht Club, which is located within the Barr Al Jissah complex on the outskirts of Muscat. All homes at Al Mina Residences have been built with home automation, which allows residents to control features such as internal and external lighting, blinds, entertainment and air conditioning through an app.
According to Firas Matraji, CEO of Barr Al Jissah, part of the appeal of the residences is the high level of customisation available. “It is important to note that not everyone likes to have full connectivity, as some believe it infringes upon their privacy,” Matraji told OBG. “In cases like these we offer customised solutions that utilise the home’s smart functionality without going through a centralised system.”
On a larger, less bespoke scale, Omantel and Huawei signed a deal in March 2018 to integrate smart technology into Al Mouj Muscat. When it opened in 2008, Al Mouj was the first integrated tourism complex in Oman. The result of a joint venture between the government of Oman and UAE-based Majid Al Futtaim, Al Mouj combines retail, leisure, commercial, residential and hospitality properties along a 6-km stretch of coastline.
The deal led Omantel and Huawei to devise a complete smart services roadmap for the development. Early reports covering the deal stated that the roadmap starts with the implementation of smart security systems. These will link security cameras to a unified control system and be supported by a smart software platform, using advanced analytics to enable a wide range of threat and pattern triggers, as well as detection alerts based on visual information. Further phases will include smart energy and utility management as well as community portal informatics and smart parking.
Other Smart Communities
The state-run Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran), which develops the country’s tourism infrastructure, has confirmed that it will integrate smart technology at Madinat Al Irfan and Mina Sultan Qaboos Waterfront, two large-scale urban developments in the sultanate’s capital (see Construction chapter).
While the developments are in the early stages, Omran has signed agreements with the government-owned telecoms company Omantel for the integration of smart technology at both sites. “From the way we manage systems and master communities, to the way that people are able to communicate and operate throughout the facilities, Madinat Al Irfan and Mina Sultan Qaboos will definitely be developed as smart cities from the criteria we have established,” Stuart Ingram, head of development and project management at Omran, told OBG.
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