GCC countries are strengthening their efforts to give more access to affordable housing for low- and middle-income households, Invest-Gate reports

This comes as part of government efforts to address rapid urbanization and growing population, according to a recent study, entitled “New Trends in Affordable Housing in GCC,” released by Dubai-based Orient Planet Research (OPR), an Orient Planet Group venture.

The study highlighted that the GCC’s population, which mainly comprises young people, jumped by more than 50% over the last decade, based on figures released by The Economist newspaper, with expectations to reach 53 mn in 2020, which naturally means even greater pressure on the low-end segment of the housing sector.

Managing Director of Orient Planet Group Nidal Abou Zaki said, “There is a clear significant shift in the focus towards affordable housing in the GCC … 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.”

Abou Zaki noted that the UAE’s housing policy has traditionally been focused on providing housing benefits. For example, the country’s Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme has an existing budget allocation of USD 1.36 bn to assist the housing needs of citizens, especially those which have been orphaned, widowed, aged citizens, and even people with determination.

However, he noted that housing policies have been evolving to include wider members of the community. Dubai, for instance, has taken a step forward and introduced a new low-cost housing policy for both UAE nationals and expatriates. The emirate targets collaboration with property developers, as well as, the redevelopment of old residential areas to meet its plans.

Saudi Arabia is also taking bold moves such as plans to construct 1 mn housing units on top of the existing ones, in line with the Saudi Vision 2030, he elaborated, adding that 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 country’s housing problem in the next three to five years.

“Similarly, Oman has allocated OMR 90 mn for its housing projects as stated in the general budget for FY 2019/20. Meanwhile, Bahrain widely invests in various social housing schemes, which has provided more than 36,000 support services to citizens through houses and flats, housing loans, flats in subsidized rentals, and residential plots,” he pointed out.