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Middle East countries prioritise affordable housing projects
An increasing number of developments are being called for, planned, or built across the region

Dubai used to be the leader in house building in the UAE, right up until the current world housing crash silenced the development industry. Luckily, other neighbouring countries have since started to build much needed homes to lead the area out of the economic slump.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Abu Dhabi are investing in infrastructure projects, as they plan ahead, but, given the current global economic situation and the reality on the ground in the region, a focus on high profit luxury residential and retail projects could mean that developers are missing an opportunity. Whether it is the demographics of Abu Dhabi with only a small percentage of the population indigenous, or Saudi Arabia with up to about 80% of the population indigenous, the housing need s are similar - what is needed is affordable, or low to middle-income housing not luxury housing.

The Governor of Makkah, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, has supported the need for more projects in Saudi Arabia, to meet the rising demand for low cost homes, and has referenced plans for further developments in the future. Addressing an audience in January, when laying the foundation stone for an affordable housing project in Umm Al-Joud, Makkah, he said: 'This project is a significant step in the direction of similar projects.'

It is vital to provide the housing mix which suits the population. Each of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) markets have different needs, especially in markets where the indigenous population is a minority. In Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha, for example, focus needs to be on infrastructure projects, and developing a masterplan and planning system for the cities, which in turn can inform and support a development plan for the right mix of projects. Luxury projects are most certainly not the best answer. Low to middle-income housing can offer a strong, recession-proof business sector for a developer to incorporate its its business plan, while at the same time providing a vital housing product for the city or country. Many middle eastern leaders are pledging funding for the much-needed, and often overlooked housing sector, which offers developers a unique opportunity to embrace this new era of housing and enjoy a public-private partnership venture.

The MENA region is an emerging market which needs to raise the quality of its real estate stock. Focus just on the extreme luxury housing - which is not within reach of most of the population - defeats the goal of developing a stable real estate market.

For further information on affordable housing projects in the middle east or on Levvel's developer and housebuilder training workshops, please contact Stuart Woodward on 44 1202 639444, or email
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V Radical changes needed for UK private rented sector - Sir Adrian Montague's review ...
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V The States of Jersey - Affordable homes 'not a pipedream' ... more >>
Levvel were chosen as International Knowledge Partner by the RICS India. Stuart Woodward, Managing Director of Levvel attended the conference titled 'Practical Solutions for Delivery of Affordable Housing' which took place in New Delhi.

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