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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Real estate has been considered one of the safest bets for investors globally and thanks to the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia is now able to offer a sizable portfolio to the world.
The opportunities are amplified by real demand in a swiftly expanding market that is providing some of the best returns on investments in the region and beyond.
Figures released by the General Authority for Statistics in August showed the Kingdom’s Real Estate Price Index edged up by 0.8 percent in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the same period a year earlier.
The report showed that residential property prices rose by 1.1 percent and commercial by 0.2 percent compared to last year.
Alongside the rise in house values is an increase in rent deals. Data released in March by the Real Estate General Authority, or Ejar, showed residential and commercial deals in this sector almost doubled in value in 2022 compared to the year before, reaching SR76 billion ($20.2 billion).
The report added that the total value of commercial rent transactions amounted to SR40.9 billion in 2022, while those of residential properties reached SR35.1 billion.
The Kingdom is witnessing remarkable economic growth alongside an increase in real estate and infrastructure projects, partly spurred on by its goal to raise the proportion of homeownership for its citizens to 70 percent by 2030.
To further support the construction industry and facilitate the real estate sector, the Saudi wealth fund earlier this year invested $1.3 billion in four leading local firms: Nesma & Partners Contracting Co., ElSeif Engineering Contracting Co., AlBawani Holding Co., and Almabani General Contractors Co.
Additionally, other companies in PIF’s portfolio granted contracts worth SR184 billion to the Saudi private sector in 2022, which will contribute to increasing the contribution to local content from the fund and its firms to 60 percent by the end of 2025.
Moreover, the Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co., a subsidiary of PIF with assets amounting to about SR6.1 billion, agreed in 2020 with the Public Pension Agency to help provide mortgages amounting to over SR3 billion to enable more Saudi residents to buy homes.
So far, over 270,000 families have benefitted from the investment.
Another key driver in the increase of construction and home ownership in the Kingdom is real estate developer ROSHN.
The PIF-owned project is strongly committed to achieving the Vision 2030 goal of offering more than 2 million homes across the Kingdom, specifically in Riyadh, Makkah, and Jeddah, as well as Asir and the Eastern Province. These projects are set to cover an area of more than 200 million sq. meters.
In order to achieve its targets, ROSHN has established several strategic partnerships with local and international companies worth more than SR10 billion.
Quality of life
Saudi Arabia is making real changes to put itself on the frontline of modernity, and these changes necessitate having contemporary communities, but with the country’s history and culture observed.
The ambitious infrastructure developments taking place across the Kingdom factor in recreational, educational, and health initiatives, with a focus on new urban areas and smart cities.
One of these is King Salman International Airport in Riyadh, which will contribute to realizing Saudi Arabia’s ambition of becoming a global logistics hub.
Under plans unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in November 2022, the facility will be developed to have six parallel runways and is expected to contribute SR27 billion annually to the Kingdom’s non-oil gross domestic product.
It will help drive annual passenger traffic in Saudi Arabia from the current 29 million to 120 million travelers by 2030 and 185 million by 2050, with aircraft traffic increasing from 211,000 to more than 1 million flights per year.
The development is part of a plan to transform the Saudi capital to be among the world’s top 10 city economies by 2030, therefore making real estate investment even more attractive.
Moreover, Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District, the largest of its kind regionally, stands out as a prime example of a destination that combines housing, work, and entertainment.
KAFD was designed to feature over 5,000 residential units, 1 million sq. meters of class A office space, 220,000 sq. meters of retail, food, and beverage space, and 110,000 sq. meters of entertainment space once the master plan has been completed.
The under-construction New Murabba project, the world’s largest modern downtown, which will be located in Riyadh, will adopt sustainability standards that aim to raise residents’ quality of life.
The project will also include an innovative museum, a university specializing in technology and design, an integrated multi-use theater, and more than 80 areas for entertainment and cultural live performances.
Saudi Arabia’s ambitions are broader than just real estate developments and boosting its capital.
Saudi Downtown Co. is establishing urban centers with sustainable economic and social impact in 12 cities across the country, while pioneering construction is taking place in NEOM, The Red Sea, Qiddiya, and Diriyah, as the government looks to complete a range of giga-projects to support its economic diversification plan.
PIF is focusing on developing integrated ecosystems across these developments that rely heavily on technology and localizing knowledge, in fields including future sciences, tourism, sports, as well as real estate.
With these projects aiming to achieve medium and long-term returns, PIF is also working on improving living standards and competitiveness in cities and regions across the nation by boosting new forms of urban communities, business centers, infrastructure projects, and destinations that maximize Saudi Arabia’s natural, cultural, and historical resources.
The companies carrying out these developments are keen to maintain the Kingdom’s cultural identity and vibrant heritage.
Boutique Group, for instance, is transforming a series of historical and cultural palaces in the country into luxury boutique hotels, while Diriyah Project is showcasing Saudi Arabia’s history that spans over 300 years.
Likewise, the historic city of AlUla and Downtown Jeddah are becoming world-class tourist destinations, with their developing companies preserving the destinations’ historical values.
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