Homo Oeconomicus

, Volume 35, Issue 1–2, pp 1–30 | Cite as

On the Process and Economics of Land Settlement in Oman: Mathematical Modeling and Reasoning in Urban Planning and Design

  • Bernhard Heim
  • Marc Joosten
  • Aurel von Richthofen
  • Florian RuppEmail author
Research Paper


The Sultanate of Oman organizes a peculiar land allocation system by lottery. Combined with governmental loans this system is intended to provide house ownership for male and female nationals. Active land-management measures such as incentives or taxation do not exist. The process can be described as an ideal market. As observed in empirical studies the resulting settlement remains incomplete and inefficient, which leads to an overall unsustainable land-use. The paper develops an agent-based land-settlement simulation based on cellular automata. The simulation describes the agents and their motivation. It is calibrated with a real-estate price index compiled for Muscat Capital Area for the first time. The simulation allows discussion of four scenarios: Status quo, negative, positive and combined land-management measures. The status quo scenario reveals that the original intention of the land allocation program as part of the welfare system in Oman is not attained. On the contrary, the present system without additional management fuels private land speculation that rapidly excludes those in need and benefits a few. The alternative scenarios of negative, positive and combined land-management measures support policies for a fair and sustainable settlement process.


Collective decision-making Simulations in economics Settlement dynamics Housing in Oman 

JEL Classification

C630 R310 R380 R520 R580 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and Sciences, Faculty of ScienceGerman University of Technology in OmanMuscatSultanate of Oman
  2. 2.ETH Zürich, Future Cities Laboratory Singapore, Singapore-ETH Centre, Create TowerSingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.Center of Conflict Resolution & Institute of SocioEconomicsMünchenGermany

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