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Mastercard Spokesperson Notes High Levels of Confidence in Kuwait as Real Estate Prices Surge in Oman and Saudi Reports More than $26 Billion in Green Building Investments

Middle East : 10 June 2013

Mastercard Survey Finds Confident Consumers in Kuwait

Kuwait’s consumer confidence levels remain at high levels and come in second behind Qatar in a recent Mastercard survey. According to Mastercard’s Area Head focusing on Qatar, Kuwait and Oman, Safdar Khan, the high score of 95.8 may be driven by ongoing government movement toward sustainable economic and financial growth. This is the highest level recorded for Kuwait since 2010.

Qatar scored 96.5 overall, although Kuwait scored higher in the stock market (93.8 compared to Qatar’s score of 92.0) and quality of life (96.6 compared to Qatar’s score of 96.2).

Deputy PM Jassim Al-Shamali noted how the financial policies of Kuwait are targeting economic reforms, and aim to create more opportunity for investment within the private sector in an effort to boost economic activity.

Khan also stated that the nationalization drive in Kuwait is similar to those in place across the Middle East and drives the nation toward economic diversification.

Mastercard uses a series of questions regarding a six-month economic outlook to come up with an average score for the Mastercard Index of Consumer Confidence. Khan noted the work Mastercard is doing across the Middle East, focusing on innovations and developments within the payment landscape.

The Mastercard survey found a state of general optimism across the Middle East, with the average score coming in at 81.1. The Arab Spring affected some countries, although it also created opportunities in other nations. Affected nations have also implemented fresh priorities and are working to augment revenue and offer continuity in the business climate.

Real Estate Prices Up by 20 Percent in Oman

Oman has reported a significant increase in real estate prices, according to Ministry of Housing’s Real Estate Registry secretary-general Abdullah bin Salim al Mukhaini. Over the opening half of this year, prices have risen by 10 to 20 percent, indicating economic growth and greater investment activity levels.

Al Mukhaini also stated that real estate is once again robust in the last six months, with record high price levels in some areas. The rising prices stem from natural sources and are driven by strong demand according to Al Mukhaini, who noted that areas with available services are experiencing the greatest increases.

Contracts traded in April are valued at RO 148,929,304 with fees of RO 2,585,805. Total transactions, including mortgage, exchange, inheritance, will, release of mortgage and sales for April came in at RO 27,978.

Overall value of sale contracts totalled RO 59,617,735 with 6,340 transactions at the governorates’ level. The total fees collected for the above sales figure equals RO 1,707,090. A total of 237 deeds were issued to Kuwaiti nationals in April of 2013, according to the real estate possessions regulations in Kuwait.

Saudi Green Building Projects to Exceed US $26 Billion

Saudi Arabia is expecting to report higher levels of investment in green building projects, with more than $26 billion covering 76 projects, according to Saudi Green Building Forum’s secretary general Faisal Al-Fadl. Forty-three of those projects were based in Riyadh.

Green building involves the use of healthier methods of construction, as well as efficient processes of renovation, demolition, operation and maintenance. Al-Fadl noted that 40,500 green building projects are reported worldwide. Many of these are located in North Africa, and 1,350 projects are located in the Middle East region. Saudi Arabia represents five percent of those projects.

Fewer Saudi engineering staff specializing in green building has stunted growth in the sector. With only 150 engineers focusing on this industry, a limited number of projects are possible. Al-Fadl hopes that number will swell significantly to reach 1,000 engineers over the coming three-year period. Each year around 200 engineers undergo training.

Green building costs more standard construction, adding between 2 and 13 percent to the overall cost. Al-Fadl noted that green buildings are more sustainable and economical over the long-term.

The Big 5 Saudi looked at green building last March, at this international construction show held in Jeddah.

The municipality of Jeddah currently has several construction and infrastructure projects on the go, transforming Jeddah into a green city focusing on sustainability. Mayor of Jeddah Dr. Hani Mohammad Aburas was quoted at the opening ceremonies of the Big 5 Saudi show.

This December marks the Arab-African Forum on Green Building, leading up to the Habitat III Conference 2016 a few years later. UN-Habitat organizes the forum.

Environmentally responsible building practices combine with energy and resource efficiencies to create green building. This spans several stages of construction, including planning and design, construction and operational processes and aims to reduce the negative environmental impact and promote productivity and occupational health. Sustainable living is a result of green building, with consideration for economic and social factors.

Saudi Green Building Council (or SGBC) promotes and facilitates the practice across the kingdom, working to raise public awareness, provide education and training, encourage development with manufacturers and suppliers and transform the national construction industry.

Movements such as green labelling and the development and implementation of a local rating system for green building practices have been part of the council’s work.

As the world’s leading oil exporter, Saudi strives to adopt green building solutions in new building construction and infrastructure, according to SGBC’s deputy chairman Ali U. Al Najim. Energy savings remain a top priority in building design.

Paul Holdsworth, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News
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