Increasing focus on affordable housing in GCC

aff hoSaudi Arabia’s market largest in GCC with plans to add more than one million units under Saudi Vision 2030. (Image source: Jan Kranendonk/Adobe Stock)GCC countries are strengthening their efforts to further enhance the accessibility to affordable housing for low- and middle-income households as part of government efforts to address rapid urbanisation and growing population

A new report titled ‘New Trends in Affordable Housing in GCC,’ released by Orient Planet Research, an Orient Planet Group venture, discussed the latest trends and achievements by GCC countries in narrowing down the demand-supply gap in the sector.

The region’s growing population is among the major drivers for rising demand, with the young working citizens and residents taking interest to acquire homes within their income reach. The GCC’s population, which mainly comprises young people, climbed by more than 50 per cent over the last decade as shown by the figures released by the economist.

Nidal Abou Zaki, managing director at Orient Planet Group, said, “There is a clear significant shift in the focus towards affordable housing in the GCC. Governments and private developers are increasingly recognising the demand for affordable housing in the region and various policies and schemes have been established to achieve this goal. However, there remains a need for identifying the market segment in terms of income class to enable developers to create valuable products and meet target markets.”

A holistic approach, the report underscores, is thus in order to build better communities in the Gulf. It notes the member states’ significant initiatives in order to pave the way for more construction of affordable but quality housing stock.

The UAE’s housing policy has traditionally been focused on providing housing benefits and facilities to emiratis with low income through the federal government and other entities set up within local governments.

Housing policies have been evolving to include wider members of the community. Dubai has taken a step forward and introduced a new low-cost housing policy for both the UAE nationals and expatriates, aimed at addressing the gap between income classes. The emirate targets collaboration with property developers and redevelopment of old residential areas to meet its plans.

Other GCC states are also taking bold moves such as Saudi Arabia with plans to construct one million housing units on top of the existing ones in line with the Saudi Vision 2030. Kuwait has allocated more funds for the construction of an additional 45,000 housing units as part of its five-year plan (2015-2020), which aims to fix the housing problem in the next three to five years. Oman has allocated US$233.79mn for its housing projects as stated in the General Budget for FY 2019. Bahrain invests in various social housing schemes which have provided more than 36,000 support services to citizens through houses and flats, housing loans, flats in a subsidised rental and residential plots.

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