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.

 

Trump-Saudi ties helps pave way for new Saudi crown prince

Iraq PM says IS admitting defeat in Mosul

US increases its role in Syria's civil war

Turkish President accused of influencing courts

Red Sea coral reefs take the heat of climate change

Makeshift clinic saves lives near Syria’s Raqa

Egyptian fuel helps restart Gaza power station

Rights groups say Morocco protest leader 'severely beaten' during arrest

5 killed in Mogadishu car bomb attack

UN experts urge Egypt to halt executions after 'flawed trials'

Qatar emir congratulates newly-appointed Saudi crown prince

Kushner hails 'productive' Palestine-Israel talks

Macron says removing Assad no longer priority in Syria

Turkey sends first aid ship to isolated ally Qatar

Egypt delivers fuel to ease Gaza electricity shortage

Saudi Arabia named after ruling dynasty

Turkey detains catering boss after army food poisoning

Israel says will unleash 'unimaginable power' in future Lebanon war

Brussels nail bomber identified as Moroccan

Saudi stock market bullish on new heir

Lebanon's Salame to be new UN Libya envoy

New Saudi heir is king's agent of change

Mohammed bin Salman named Saudi crown prince

Algeria leader drops Panama Papers libel suit vs Le Monde

Morocco detains three as Rif protests continue

Israel starts work on new settlements amid Trump 'peace' push

At least 10 dead in Mogadishu suicide attack

Iraq forces advance in Mosul Old City

Yemen cholera death toll passes 1,100

Iran-made drone shot down by US plane in Syria

Raqa’s own battle to liberate hometown from IS rule

Saudi, Iraq hail 'qualitative leap' in relations

French journalist killed in Mosul

Iran protests against Tillerson 'transition' comments

Saudi foils ‘terrorist act’ in territorial waters

Ex-Barclays CEO charged with fraud over Qatar funding

London mosque terror attack suspect named in media

Iran avenges Tehran attack by targeting jihadists in Syria

Israel begins reducing power supplies to Gaza

Emirati minister warns Qatar isolation could ‘last years’

Russia freezes US military hotline after downing of Syrian plane

Turkish troops arrive in Qatar for joint training

Saudi seizes weapons from captured boat in oil field

Iraq authorities tell IS to 'surrender or die' in Mosul

UN says record 65.6 million people displaced worldwide