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.


Cirque du Soleil heads to Saudi in special one-off show

Updated 11 September 2018
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Cirque du Soleil heads to Saudi in special one-off show

  • More than 80 artists will take the stage at the King Fahd International Stadium for the show
  • About 250 costumes have been specially made to respect local traditions

MONTREAL: Cirque du Soleil will stage a show in Saudi Arabia for the first time later this month, the high-flying acrobatic troupe announced Monday.
The show will take place in the Saudi capital on Sept. 23 to coincide with the country's national day, public relations director Marie-Helene Lagace told AFP.
More than 80 artists will take the stage at the King Fahd International Stadium for the show, which will also be shown on Saudi state television. Cirque says it will be one of its biggest one-off productions ever.
About 250 costumes have been specially made to respect local traditions and conform to "the artistic standards for which we are known," Lagace said.
The announcement of Cirque du Soleil's appearance in Saudi Arabia was first made in Los Angeles in April, Lagace noted. But it was unclear whether the show would go on given the diplomatic tensions.
At the behest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has reopened movie theaters and allowed women and men to attend some concerts together.