Shoura members oppose foreigners owning properties in holy cities

Updated 05 February 2014
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Shoura members oppose foreigners owning properties in holy cities

The Committee of Economic Affairs and Energy at the Shoura Council faced vehement opposition from several members when the council announced its recommendations to allow foreign investors to own properties within Makkah and Madinah’s borders.
A member of the Shoura Council said that the committee has long since prevented foreigners from buying properties within the vicinity of the Two Holy Mosques, according to local media sources.
Members of the council claim that preventing foreign investment will maintain the religious identity of the two cities.
According to Saudi Arabia’s foreign investment regulations, an expatriate licensed to engage in business activity is entitled to own a property either for residency purposes or for pursuing business objectives. Foreigners can also buy homes to accommodate employees. Expatriates, however, are not allowed to own properties in Makkah and Madinah.
Abdullah Al-Ahmari, head of the real estate appraisal committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), said in a previous interview that registering an expatriate’s property under the name of a Saudi national is a clear violation of regulations in the country that could result in the confiscation of the property and a fine for all involved.
However, expatriates with high incomes mostly buy real estate out of Saudi Arabia, particularly in their home countries, because they do not know if they will continue living in the Kingdom. Their deals to buy properties abroad are estimated at more than SR8 billion, mostly in Egypt, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Salem Radwan, manager of a real estate company in Jeddah, said members of the Indian community in Saudi Arabia own many homes in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Many Sudanese nationals in the Kingdom own apartments in Cairo, he added.
Talal Samarqandi, head of the JCCI’s engineering office committee and former real estate committee member, said a foreigner wanting to own a property in Saudi Arabia had to meet stipulations such as having a good financial record and approval from the Ministry of Interior.
He added: “There are a lot of foreigners who were born and raised here. This segment is particularly interested in owning the place they live in instead of continuing that can become a burden on their monthly incomes.”
Chairman of JCCI’s real estate committee Muhammad Al-Amir said foreigners in Saudi Arabia can own properties only if the profession listed on their residence permit is foreign investor. Priority for owning properties is given to Saudis, he added.
Some real estate experts said there is a long way to go before expatriates will be allowed to buy properties given the supply and demand in the market.
Al-Amir said supply was not meeting the growth in population in the Kingdom. Once supply and demand are balanced locally, he added, the circumstances would be adequate for issuing laws regulating expatriates’ ownership of properties.


Saudi Arabia ‘racing into the future’ with Formula E

Updated 15 December 2018
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Saudi Arabia ‘racing into the future’ with Formula E

  • A first for Saudi Arabia and the region, the event’s magnitude reflects the Kingdom’s goal of hosting major events and promoting them domestically and globally
  • “This is unprecedented and fabulous,” one concert-goer said. Another said: “I can’t believe I’m in Saudi Arabia.” 

RIYADH: Formula E is one for the books. Attracting fans from all over the world, the mega event — held in the historic Saudi town of Ad Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is set to revolutionize motorsports by using only electric race cars. 

Officially known as the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, the race expects to draw 40,000 attendees, with access not only to the race but also to the Kingdom’s largest ever festival for music, entertainment and cultural activities.

A first for Saudi Arabia and the region, the event’s magnitude reflects the Kingdom’s goal of hosting major events and promoting them domestically and globally.

A milestone was marked as Bandar Alesayi and Ahmed bin Khanen became the first Saudi I-Pace eTrophy racers, sponsored by the General Sports Authority (GSA). 

Both drivers predict increased grassroots support in the Kingdom for youths to train in carting and race-car driving.  

At 1.76 miles long with 21 corners, the track is somewhat tricky for first-time Formula E drivers.

“The system is like Mario Bros when they get the little star and go faster,” said Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag. The new electric circuit in Saudi Arabia has been hailed as one of the best Formula E tracks.

The three-day event is hosting some of the world’s top singers, including Jason Derulo, Enrique Iglesias, Amr Diab, Black Eyed Peas, David Guetta and One Republic, along with DJ EJ. 

“This is unprecedented and fabulous,” one concert-goer said. Another said: “I can’t believe I’m in Saudi Arabia.” 

Outside the venue, Al-Bujairy, one of Ad Diriyah’s historic areas, hosts high-end restaurants, cafes and local designer outlets overlooking the historic district of At-Turaif, which was once home to the Saudi royal family and has newly opened for visitors.

Another area of interest is the Family Zone, with many events and activities to entertain all age groups. Men, women and children are given different driving experiences.

In Ad Diriyah’s Formula E, only one car is allowed per driver instead of two, making pit stops more crucial in terms of timing.  

“Attack mode” gives cars a temporary power boost from 200 to 225 kilowatts, equivalent to 268-302 horsepower. Drivers need to move to a certain area on the track to activate this mode.

“Saudi Arabia is racing into the future with Formula E, as we open the Kingdom to the world in a transformation that’s being supercharged by the Vision 2030 plan, driven forward by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud, vice-chair of the Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority, told Arab News.