Private sector’s involvement a must

Updated 22 March 2013
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Private sector’s involvement a must

In tackling the essential role of governments in delivering housing, a speakers’ panel at the Jeddah Economic Forum (JEF) yesterday emphasized the need for government intervention and monitoring.
However, experts cautioned that governments are not solely responsible for the daunting task of providing affordable housing and require the cooperation of both the private and banking sectors.
Conveying the Irish experience and lessons learned, Jan O’Sullivan, minister of housing and planning, said the Irish government has established regulatory bodies for planning, implementing and monitoring public housing.
“Governments have an essential role in resolving the housing crisis and pushing the private sector to provide low-cost housing,” she said.
O’Sullivan shed light on the concept of collective housing in Ireland, which is one of the best models of public housing in Europe, as underprivileged citizens pay 25 percent of the cost, while the remaining costs are shouldered by the government and private investors as part of their social responsibility programs.
Mohammad Besbas of Tunisia, elaborated on the points raised by O’Sullivan, noting that the success of the Tunisian experience stems from institutionalizing the housing sector.
“We have developed three real-estate bodies in the north, south and center of the country in order to eliminate bureaucracy and centralization and to be able to provide effective local solutions suitable to each region. The government’s role is restricted to monitoring and overseeing the work of these real-estate bodies,” he said.
Abdullah Al-Nuaim, chairman, board of trustees and president of the Arab Urban Development Institute, highlighted some of the challenges facing the Kingdom in housing, reminding the attendees that despite the abundant natural resources in the country, Saudi Arabia remains a developing nation.
He said the housing sector began creating 60,000 housing units in the past few years, but the major shift came about with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s decision to construct 500,000 new accommodation units.
Moreover, 2.5 million land grants have been given to citizens over the past years to ease the housing crisis.


Saudi Arabia to release 1,000 Ethiopian prisoners

Ethiopian immigrants returning from Saudi Arabia arrive at Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport in this December 10, 2013 photo. Hundreds of thousands of undocumented Ethiopians were sent home in 2013 but they have apparently been replaced by new arrivals in the succeeding years. (AFP file photo)
Updated 20 May 2018
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Saudi Arabia to release 1,000 Ethiopian prisoners

  • Hundreds of thousands of undocumented Ethiopian migrants were repatriated from Saudi Arabia in 2013.
  • Officials in Riyadh are in the process of deporting more than 500,000 Ethiopian migrants this year.

ADDIS ABABA: Saudi Arabia has agreed to release 1,000 Ethiopian nationals who have been in prison in the Gulf state for a variety of offenses, Ethiopian state-affiliated media said on Saturday.

The decision was made following a request by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was in Riyadh on an official visit this week, Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The agency said among the detainees were 100 women. It did not disclose what the charges were. Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian nationals live in the Gulf region, mostly in Saudi Arabia.

Officials in Riyadh are in the process of deporting more than 500,000 undocumented Ethiopian migrants.

So far, 160,000 have arrived back in the Horn of Africa country.

During his recent visit to Riyadh, Ahmed met with leaders of Ethiopian community and discussed setting up a strong partnership between the government and the community to address challenges they are facing.

The trip is his first outside Africa after three visits to neighbouring countries. The East African nation secured thousands of exit visas for its nationals and flew them back home.

Established diplomatic relations in 1948, Saudi Arabia is among the first Arab countries to open embassy in Addis Ababa.