Home Institution

Northwestern University

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Program Name

Oman: Political Culture and Development


Mention the term “shabia,” or “social housing,” to any Omani, and a handful of associations come to mind: poverty, violence, lack of education. Social housing is a concept burdened with assumptions, assumptions that often reflect poorly upon its residents. Using the Asset-Based Community Development framework, this paper seeks to dispel notions regarding the Shabia by endeavoring to understand how its residents perceive their community and how this affects their housing decisions. What about the Shabia encourages residents to come, and remain, there? Why would they consider leaving? How have they addressed the challenges associated with living in social housing? This research will contribute to the body of knowledge informing Oman’s housing policy and initiatives for low-income citizens, offering insight as to how government regulations can be altered in order to utilize community assets while addressing residents’ grievances. Additionally, the research will dispel misconceptions regarding social housing and its residents, offering new perspectives on how the government – and the nation as a whole – can accommodate low-income residents in ways that are sensitive to their true situation, not their perceived experience.


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