Friday, January 17, 2014

Saudi Arabian Housing Policy

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is looking to address the discrepancy between what housing gets built and what people can actually afford to buy:
Saudi Arabia is quietly planning to raze slums in one of its largest cities to make way for newer, restored neighborhoods as part of a wider plan to keep up with soaring demand for affordable housing...
To address the housing shortage and public grumbling, the Red Sea city of Jiddah is a testing ground for a plan that includes getting rid of most of its roughly 50 unplanned settlements, which comprise a third of its built-up area, according to municipality figures.
In their place, the city plans to build subsidized housing complexes for Saudis...
Fayyaz Ahmad, associate director of real estate adviser Jones Lang LaSalle in Saudi Arabia, says a third of new entrants into the workforce cannot afford a house costing more than $133,000, which in a city like Jiddah buys a small two-bedroom apartment.
The article makes the point that poverty is normally a taboo subject in the kingdom's public sphere.  Yet it exists and has given rise to a lot of youth activism, so this move may be partially motivated by a desire to avoid Arab Spring-like protests, if they still have attraction for Saudi Arabian youth.  What is left unaddressed, of course, is the kingdom's true underclass: foreign migrant workers, especially those whose work permissions have expired yet who remain in the country illegally.



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