Shoura Council grapples with housing shortage

Updated 28 April 2016
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Shoura Council grapples with housing shortage

RIYADH: Shoura Council members had various opinions on the role of the Ministry of Housing in providing accommodation for citizens.

Prince Khalid Al-Saud said he feels bad about the situation because the ministry failed to carry out its only task, which is to provide suitable accommodation for citizens, saying it didn’t follow through on its promises despite the huge budget allocated for this purpose and the long years of waiting.
In reviewing the ministry's financial statements since it's commission, he said that he found it hadn't offered any benefits or achievements to the community at all.
Shoura member Saud Al-Shammari responded by stating that the state isn’t obliged to offer accommodation for each of its citizens, and that housing is not a constitutional right. He did say, however, that providing property for citizens achieves political stability for the state, and therefore may have significant benefits.
Al-Shammari suggested that the distribution of proper accommodation should be realized by turning the Land Development Fund into a land bank that has suitable programs and products for all members of the community.
He opposed the idea that the Ministry of Housing should build new homes and that citizens should pay for them over a 25-year period at a price that is much less than that in the market, and instead called for new funding methods that give suitable options to all community members.
Fahad bin Juma’ Al-Samah suggested the idea of leasing because it saves money and enables tenants to have immediate services. He called for the imposition of fees on commercial buildings that have been vacant for more than six months to increase offers and decrease rents. He demanded that the Ministry of Housing oblige the owners of leased units to present their benefits and leasing prices.
Other demands included coordination between the ministry and military sectors to provide housing for low-ranking military officers that are deducted from their pay during their service; controlling and regulating the real estate market; and speeding up a number of projects that were announced by the ministry.
Some Shoura members wondered about the status of previously launched programs and criticized the forging of alliances without a proper working strategy.
They also called for the speedy issuance of a special housing strategy, and cited the importance of giving people with limited incomes the priority in receiving government funding programs, in addition to coming up with alternative funding programs to suit various sections of society.
Council members called on the Ministry of Housing to clarify the financial obligations of housing beneficiaries, to delegate land development to real estate developers, and to prepare a timetable clarifying the targeted quantity of homes to be released in the tenth development plan on an annual basis.
The members also called on the ministry to prepare its policy guide. It also called on the ministry to draft a quarterly database in coordination with relevant bodies that will be available to everyone and includes sales, prices and vacancies in the housing sector.


Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince says Brexit opens UK for greater business opportunities with Kingdom

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman
Updated 07 March 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince says Brexit opens UK for greater business opportunities with Kingdom

LONDON: People in the UK and Saudi Arabia are much safer if the two countries have a close relationship, the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said ahead of his visit to Britain.
Prince Mohammed arrived in the UK from Cairo last night to begin the second leg of his first overseas tour since becoming heir to the throne.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph newspaper, the crown prince said Brexit potentially freed up Britain to do more business with the Kingdom.
“We believe that Saudi Arabia needs to be part of the global economy,” he said. “People need to be able to move freely, and we need to apply the same standards as the rest of the world. After Brexit, there will be huge opportunities for Britain as a result of Vision 2030.”
He said the two countries enjoyed historic ties that dated back more than 100 years to the foundation of the Kingdom.
“We have a common interest that goes back to the earliest days of the relationship,” he said, adding: “Our relationship with Britain today is super.”
The 32-year-old crown prince, who is making his first official visit to Britain, has overseen a raft of reforms to modernize the Kingdom.
During the trip, he will meet with Prime Minister Theresa May, the Queen and other members of the British royal family.
A number of events have been scheduled, including a forum on business partnerships between the two countries and a discussion event at Chatham House.
The visit is expected to focus on defense, security and economic ties. The two sides will also review key bilateral and regional issues.
Billboards highlighting his UK visit have been erected in parts of the capital, Saudi state-news channel Al-Ekhbariya reported.
One shows the flags of the two countries with “United Kingdoms” written across the top. Another shows Crown Prince Mohammed with the slogan: “He is bringing change to Saudi Arabia.”
The Telegraph interview touched on the wide-reaching reforms in the country that include allowing Saudi women to drive, work and run businesses.
He said that while Vision 2030 worked to diversify the economy, the inclusion of women in driving that economy was essential to the long-term success of the project.
The crown prince said that global travel had made Saudis increasingly aware how other countries operated. Such an insight, he explained, had led to a change in the aspirations of the country’s younger population.
Currently, UK trade with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states accounts for 10 percent of total commercial transactions — more than the total amount of trade with China, the newspaper added, citing British diplomats.
Security and intelligence cooperation are expected to feature heavily during talks in the UK.
“The British and Saudi people, along with the rest of the world, will be much safer if you have a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia,” the crown prince said.
He said the job at hand was to promote a “more moderate Islam,” to counter the “extremists and the terrorists (who) are linked through spreading their agenda.”
Economic growth in Saudi Arabia would benefit the rest of the Middle East, which would help to defeat extremism.
He dismissed claims that the Saudi government’s current stance against Iran and Qatar could potentially provoke new regional conflict.
Britain was “very supportive” of the Kingdom’s concerns over Iran and other regional security issues, he said.
Before leaving Egypt, Crown Prince Mohammed visited Al-Azhar, the world’s leading seat of learning for Sunni Muslims.
Accompanied by Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam, he was shown the completed restoration work carried out on Al-Azhar Mosque.
The three-year project was financed by a grant from Saudi Arabia. The mosque, built in the 10th century, is now part of a sprawling university, which teaches Islam as well as secular subjects, and a nationwide network of schools.
Hundreds of Al-Azhar students met the crown prince and Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
During the trip, Crown Prince Mohammed visited the main Christian cathedral in Cairo and met the head of the Coptic church. He also toured infrastructure projects and the Suez canal and attended a play at Cairo Opera House.
The two countries signed deals linked to investment funds and the building of a project in Sinai connected to Saudi Arabia’s Neom megacity project.