First Published: 2005-04-01

 
Dubai’s tourism, real estate drive shake Gulf
 

Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait follow Dubai’s lead to liberalise tourism, real estate to stimulate their economies.

 

Middle East Online

By Fiona MacDonald - DOHA

Qatar will grant permanent residency to foreigners who buy property

Following in the footsteps of Dubai's mega tourism and real estate drive, Gulf states are pushing their own plans to lure visitors and open up their property sector to foreigners to stimulate their economies.

Dubai's bid to become the region's business and leisure hub to help compensate for depleting oil reserves has apparently set off a domino effect in the region where Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait have announced multi-billion dollar projects.

Affluent Dubai has launched several grandiose housing, entertainment and resort developments on artificial islands, three in the shape of palm trees and one resembling a world map.

Property yet to be built on at least one of the islands has been sold three times over, as investors across the Gulf Arab region seemingly brush off the threat of terror or instability.

Capitalising on a potentially lucrative market, gas-rich Qatar is in the throes of its first international real estate venture with The Pearl-Qatar, a 2.5-billion-dollar artificial island off its coast.

The initial phases of selling apartments on the development, which will include housing for up to 30,000 people, met an overwhelming response from regional and international investors, developers said.

The island, to take the shape of a bay eventually covering an area of four million square metres (43 million square feet) of reclaimed land, will boast luxury hotels and marinas. Foreigners who buy property on it will be granted permanent residency, as is the case in Dubai.

Hussam Abu Issa, vice chairman of Salam International Investment Company in Qatar, said the Pearl was the country's first unique project.

"The government is also trying to locate other areas where foreigners can buy property," he said. "It's the trend of government policy to encourage investment, and there's been a very positive response."

Qatar is building a 5.5-billion-dollar airport to handle up to 60 million passengers annually by 2020, while Dubai has embarked on a four-billion-dollar airport expansion project with the same target.

Since creating a tourism ministry last June, picturesque Oman is actively promoting itself as a Gulf destination.

"There's various projects in Oman to encourage more investments," said Mohammed Ali Said, the ministry's director general. "There's a master plan to develop a lot of areas."

Last year, the Omani government launched The Wave, an 805-million-dollar resort project stretching along miles of virgin beachfront just west of the capital Muscat, with 400,000 square metres (4.3 million square feet) of it to come from reclaimed land.

Some 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the capital in Ras Al-Had, the sultanate will next year start work on a multi-billion dollar eco-resort including an airport and houses open for sale to foreigners.

"There's no competition between us and the other Gulf states. We complement each other. Tourists can go shopping in Dubai and come here to see the real culture, tradition and heritage," Said said.

Tiny Bahrain is building its largest luxury residential, commercial and resort development, one of the kingdom's three major leisure and housing projects to encourage investment.

The 1.2-billion-dollar Durrat Al-Bahrain, or Rising Pearl, will consist of 13 islands and a range of facilities with 2,000 villas and 3,000 apartments available for sale to expatriates.

Due for completion by late 2009, it is expected to be one and a half times larger than the capital Manama and accommodate 30,000 residents and 4,000 visitors daily.

Bahrain's cabinet on Sunday approved additional areas in specific touristic regions where non-Bahrainis can own real estate.

Conservative Kuwait, where alcohol and discos are banned and hotels need permission to stage musical concerts, is also vying for a slice of the region's expanding industry, taking a first step by easing its rigid visa rules.

The emirate, which raises more than 90 percent of its income from oil, is attracting investors for a multi-billion-dollar project to turn its Failaka island into a major holiday resort. It is also mulling the idea of allowing foreigners to buy property.

 

Ansar al-Sharia denies killing of Abu Iyadh in US air strike

Egypt President in Sinai after jihadist attacks on security forces

Hezbollah backs Syria army in major assault on border city

No guarantee of success as Iran nuclear talks inch closer to lasting deal

Lawlessness in Libya poses real danger for Tunisia

Erdogan moots possibility of snap election

Coalitions of Syria rebels battle regime forces in Aleppo

Syria mosque explosion kills at least 25 Nusra fighters

Yemen Huthi rebels ‘attack’ various areas in Saudi Arabia

Egypt ‘in state of war’ on second anniversary of Islamist ouster

Rockets from Sinai strike Israel

Palestinians arrest 100 Hamas members in West Bank

Erdogan inaugurates public mosque in palace

Islamists form alliance in battle for Aleppo

Top Tunisian jihadist reportedly killed by US strike in Libya

Emir attends joint Shiite, Sunni prayers in Kuwait

Hamas denies involvement in Sinai attacks

4 Qaeda suspects killed in US drone attack in Yemen

'Series of errors' behind Air Algerie crash in Mali

Ankara has no plans for imminent intervention in Syria

21 killed in clashes, strikes in Yemen's Aden

GCC states vow united stand against IS mosque bombings

Palestinians protest one year after teenager burned alive

Egypt vows to wipe out 'dens of terror'

Tunisia arrests eight in connection with beach massacre

Youth in Tunisia 'ripe for radicalisation'

UN sends mission to 'assess' South Sudan atrocities

Syria urges citizens to enlist

AQAP step up campaign to eradicate qat

Iraq Christians train for jihad against IS

British FM: 'No breakthrough yet' in Iran nuclear talks

UN imposes first sanctions on six South Sudan generals

Libya rival governments will not return to peace talks

Fighting rages in Yemen’s Aden

Egypt government adopts anti-terror law

Kurds warn Turkey against any ‘aggression’ in Syria

Kuwait makes DNA tests mandatory after suicide bombing

Kuwait parliament approves deficit budget on oil slide

Pro-Erdogan candidate becomes new speaker of Turkey parliament

‘War’ in Sinai Peninsula as clashes with ISIS fighters rage on

All 38 victims of Tunisia beach massacre identified

36 killed in wave of IS attack on Egyptian soldiers

Iran vs. Israel gets cartoon treatment

IAEA chief to fly to Iran for nuclear talks

Saudi prince pledges fortune to charity