Apartment rents likely to drop, says survey

Updated 02 December 2012
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Apartment rents likely to drop, says survey

Apartment rents are likely to fall in the near future and tenants will be able to lease larger houses, according to a recent study. 
“It is expected that the Saudization policies of the government and the soft housing facilities offered by the Ministry of Housing will reduce the demand for rented houses and enable Saudis and expatriates to live in more spacious houses,” a statistical study by the National Strategy for Housing, reported.
Charity organizations estimate that more than 70,000 Saudi families do not own the houses they currently occupy, while the Ministry of Social Affairs considers that figure far below the actual demand.
The ministry’s assumption is based on the fact that it provided assistance to 470,000 economically disadvantaged families in 2009, and the number of those seeking assistance has grown significantly since then.  
“Unofficial figures regarding the number of Saudis receiving assistance from the minisries of Social Welfare and Labor have crossed the 3 million mark,” the study said. 
“The rental market for houses is rather solid and the rate of occupancy is comparatively high. The recent increase in unoccupied apartments can be attributed to the sharp fall in demand from non-Saudi tenants, due to the recent Saudization policies. Non-Saudi tenants are facing a kind of employment recession, which affects the demand for rented apartments.”
Another factor in this recent development is the low-cost housing facilities offered by the Ministry of Housing. This will no doubt affect the demand for rented apartments, since a significant number of Saudi families are likely to shift from rented properties to their own houses,” the study observed.
Saudis who do not own their own houses have several options to acquire a house. They can build houses on the plot they own or buy a house by getting a bank loan. Only a small percentage of Saudis cannot afford to own a house and that is attributed to one of two reasons: Either they do not have an income and savings, or because they are ineligible to benefit from credit facilities, the Al-Hayat daily reported yesterday.  
The study also indicated that the lack of demand in the rental market for houses is not above 5 percent in the Kingdom, although the percentage may vary from place to place, or from one season to season.  In March last year, the Ministry of Housing was established under the leadership of Shwaish Al-Duwaihi to resolve the massive housing problem in the country, aggravated by the rising population and increase in the demand for housing fueled by expatriates.
The ministry’s short-term projects to face the challenge included building 500,000 housing units at a cost of SR 250 billion in different parts of the Kingdom.
A report by Banque Saudi Fransi last year said private and public developers need to build about 275,000 units a year through 2015 to meet the country’s demands for about 1.65 million new homes.


Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

Updated 24 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

  • They start their engines and hit the roads throughout the Kingdom
  • End of driving ban is crowning achievement so far of Saudi Vision 2030

Women throughout Saudi Arabia waited for the stroke of midnight, turned the keys in the ignition, fired up their engines — and hit the road to a bright new future.

It was the moment they had waited for since King Salman issued the royal decree on September 26, 2017, to lift the driving ban on women. 

Just after midnight on Saturday and in the first minutes of Sunday, Samah Algosaibi grabbed the keys to her family’s 1959 Corvette C1 and drove out of the driveway of her beach house in Khobar.
“We are witnessing history in the making as we look toward the dawn of a promising future,” said Algosaibi, the first female board member of Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Bros.

“As a businesswoman in Saudi Arabia, I am grateful for the women’s empowerment movement taking place. Today, I am honored to be sitting behind the wheel of change.”

Another woman to hit the road after midnight was Lina Almaeena, a member of the Saudi Shoura Council. “It feels very liberating,” she said about driving her mother’s Lexus.
Almaeena, also the co-founder and director of Jeddah United Sports Co, had exchanged her UAE license for a Saudi one. 

“I am thrilled!” Sarah Alwassia, 35, a nutritionist in Jeddah, told Arab News. “I learnt how to drive 18 years ago in the States where I got my driving license. I can’t believe that the day to drive in my own home town has come.”

Alwassia obtained her first American license when she was 18 years old in 2000, and had it exchanged for a Saudi license on June 6 in Jeddah. She explained that she is a mother, and this change provided comfort for her and her family. It also comes with various benefits, such as taking quick action in emergencies, and economic benefits such as saving money instead of paying for a driver when she needs to run errands. 

“I will be driving my kids to school and picking them up in comfort and privacy,” she said.

Women in the Kingdom commented on how this event is changing the course of their lives. “Independence is a huge thing for me,” Alwassia said. “Driving is one small part of it. I am very optimistic of the change that our loving country has made.”  

Alwassia applauds the efforts the country has made to support women. “I am confident that driving in the beginning will be pleasant, since our country has made all of the effort to support women and to protect them.
“I think our society was looking forward for this change, and I am sure the majority will adapt fast.

“I feel safe, our country did everything to make this transition pleasant and safe for every woman behind the wheel. I am really thankful to witness this historic moment and I am so happy for all the women in Saudi Arabia, especially my daughters.”
Sahar Nasief, 64, a retired lecturer from the European languages and Literature Department at King Abdulaziz University, said: “Nothing could describe my feelings. I can't wait to get on the road.”
Nasief received a very special gift from Ford for this occasion.

“They gave me a 2018 Expedition to drive for three days, a Mustang California Special,” she told Arab News.

Nasief obtained her Saudi license on June 7. She also holds a British license and two American licenses. “Now, I have my national license too,” she said. 

She also said the lifting of the ban provided a sense of relief. “I feel that I can practice one of my rights, and I don't have to live at the mercy of my driver any more.”
Society has been demanding such a change for years, “as it will take the physical and economic burden off most men.”
Pointing to the anti-harassment law, Nasief said: “I feel very confident especially after announcing the strict harassment law.”
Joumana Mattar, 36, a Jordanian interior designer, exchanged her Jordanian driver’s license and obtained a Saudi one on June 11. 

“I had my Jordanian license since I was 18 years old, and the moment I heard about the opening of exchanging foreign licenses, I immediately booked an appointment,” she said.
Mattar said she looks forward to the change in so many ways. “I'm finally in control of my time, schedule and privacy.” 

Mattar said she is both confident and anxious about the event. “I'm anxious only for feeling that I'm part of a huge first step for women driving in the Kingdom, but I'm confident also because of the support that I'm getting from my husband and family.
“Every first step is the hardest. Society is facing a huge change, but I'm positive because this change is done and supported by the government and Vision 2030.”

Mattar said she feels secure now. “I'm in control of any case I'm facing.”

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