10.06.2013, 05:52

Saudi Arabia restates commitment to SR 250 billion (US $66.7 billion) housing investment

Announcement by Municipal & Rural Affairs Minister follows visit to "low-cost" pilot project which is being developed at Umm Al-Joud on the outskirts of Mecca.


The government of Saudi Arabia has revealed it plans to use a low-cost housing project pilot as the model for the construction of 500,000 housing units across the Kingdom.

The announcement follows a visit by Minister for Municipal & Rural Affairs, Prince Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdulaziz, to "Makkah Oasis"; a 670,000 square metre development of 4,000 low-rise housing units, commercial facilities and utility buildings.

Described by project Chairman, Abdul Rahman Al-Kheraiji as a "pioneering experiment", Makkah Oasis will accommodate 2,300 low-to-middle income families; many of whom have been displaced as a result of compulsory purchases of development land.

The first stage involving the construction of 500 housing units has been completed by developer, the Makeen Company. It is expected to be followed by a second stage which will add a further 2,000 units. The final stage is believed to involve the development of 1,500 units.

During his visit, Prince Mansour repeated a statement first delivered by King Abdullah in 2011 that the government plans to invest Saudi Riyal 250 billion (US $66.7 billion) in new housing stock.

Although commentators have suggested shortages of urban land are an obstacle to further housing development - with Bloomberg Businessweek attributing these in March to the King's benevolence in "giving away" development plots to citizens throughout the Kingdom, it is clear, following the Makkah Oasis pilot, that the government now believes satellite communities built away from urban centres represent the way forward.

FM Magazine welcomes this development. The GCC, already one of the most densely populated urban regions in the world, will surely benefit from forward-thinking policies that expand outwards beyond cities boundaries, rather than upwards.

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