Wed, 21 Sep 2011 05:18:35 GMT

Major MENA markets short of 3.5 mn affordable housing units



Dubai, Sep 21 (PTI) Governments across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are increasing their efforts to construct new homes, but demand still far out-strips supply, with the region experiencing population growth around twice the global average, a new report has revealed.
Focusing on seven major markets, the report by real estate advisory firm Jones Lang LaSalle estimates that there remains a combined shortage of more than 3.5 million affordable dwellings across major markets within MENA and that demand will continue to outstrip supply for at least the next five years.
The extent of this shortfall, owing to a young and fast-growing population, varies from more than 1.5 million units in MENA''s most populous market (Egypt) to just 15,000 units in Oman, the report, ''Why Affordable Housing Matters?'', said.
The joint author of the report and the head of Jones Lang LaSalle''s specialist team of experts on affordable housing, Deepak Jain, said: "As focus shifts away from top-end luxury development, Jones Lang LaSalle estimates that the provision of sufficient levels of affordable housing represents probably the single greatest opportunity for the real estate industry in MENA at the present time."
"There is currently a marked shortfall of such housing in all the major markets across the region and this shortage is forecast to increase as governments respond to the need to provide sufficient levels of affordable housing to address one of the key�social issues facing their respective populations," he said.
The report said Egypt has the highest current shortfall of affordable housing in the region. The government has recognised this problem and has made a provisional commitment to construct 1 million affordable new residential units across 32 cities.
According to the report, 30 years of conflict and under-investment in Iraq have created a major housing shortage across the whole of the country. The National Investment Commission was recently given the task of constructing one million economic housing units, with as many as 430,000 housing units expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2012.
Saudi Arabia has an estimated shortfall of 400,000 affordable homes and the government has recognised the need to provide more dwellings as part of its broader USD 133 billion financial and social stimulus package. In Bahrain -- where there is an estimated need for 40,000 additional dwellings -- a recent USD 10 billion GCC stimulus package provides for construction of more affordable housing, the report said.
In the UAE, where there is an estimated shortfall of about 20,000 new dwellings, the government has recognised the need for more affordable housing, predominantly in Abu Dhabi, where the lack of affordable housing has resulted in high levels of shared accommodation.

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