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Sat 28 Feb 2009 04:34 PM

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Low cost properties way forward for Gulf - experts

Transparency and legislation in real estate needed to attract foreign investment.

Gulf Arab states should boost transparency and build cheaper properties to woo foreign investment and revive their declining housing market, experts said on Saturday.

"Greater financial transparency and proper legislation are needed in the region to restore the confidence of the property market," Paul Arnold, a director of real estate advisory service at Ernst & Young, told an investment forum in Oman.

"The UAE is worst-hit and it's clear that the party is over for Gulf real estate and it is going to get worse in 2009, unless legislations and transparency are beefed up," he said.

Other experts said that the Gulf should focus on cheaper options to attract foreign buyers.

"Nobody now can afford luxury properties. Real estate developers must build affordable houses for middle income foreign investors," Nile Khanfar, marketing manager at Iskan Oman Investment Co, told Reuters on the sidelines of the forum.

Developers urged banks to lend more money to help buyers acquire properties.

"Banks must play their role and lend more money to help both developers and buyers to keep up the market momentum," said Nick Smith, CEO of the Wave Muscat, a leading Omani developer.

Some property prices have fallen in the Gulf while inflationary pressures have been receding as oil prices collapsed to less than $40 a barrel, virtually a quarter of record levels last July, and the global financial crisis brought to an end a regional economic boom.

"Many investors can't anymore afford to pay the prices demanded by developers. Many property developers' business will collapse unless they sell cheaper," said Frank Hamilton, a Muscat-based British engineer. (Reuters)

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

Az 11 years ago

Well no matter what the UAE do, investing here is very risky. If you are working, you finance a property. Later you get laid off, it would be impossible to sell your property unless you willing to loose a lot. I say better keep cash at home, or fix it with a 6% profit. Atleast you can have access to your cash. It will be difficult to bring back the trust. No use bringing afforable properties now.

Lord Noble 11 years ago

There are so many bargains in the UK and London that will never be repeated again for decades. With the weak £ pound there has never been a better time to buy.

jenny 11 years ago

the writer got it wrong in the first sentence and then fed that mistake throughout. 'cheaper properties' don't need to be built - the properties are already cheap and shoddy. it's the rents that need to come down! so really, the gulf countries don't need to build cheap properties, they just need to charge rents that reflect the (cheap) quality of the properties.