(MENAFN - Arab News) The Kingdom has begun the implementation of a housing project that will supply 500,000 homes to alleviate the demand for housing, according to Jeddah municipality undersecretary Ibrahim Ketabkhane during the opening of the 10th International Real Estate, Financing and Housing Exhibition 2012 at the Jeddah Center for Forums and Events.
The exhibition was organized under the supervision of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (JCCI) real estate committee and the Jeddah governorate.
As many 1,500 personalities from 80 real estate and financing companies are taking part in the three-day exhibition.
"This real estate sector is one that is growing in importance in the Kingdom. There is no doubt that the real estate sector makes Jeddah a prominent economic city in the Kingdom, as Jeddah needs 100,000 housing units each year just to meet demand. In 2020 Jeddah will need about a million units," said Ketabkhane.
According to Ketabkhane, the Ministry of Housing and various municipalities completed the first phase of housing projects and decided to build 500,000 housing units.
"Jeddah witnesses many real estate development plans because it is a city that attracts investors, workers, tourists as well as pilgrims. Such a large number of visitors also led to an increased demand for real estate. The amount of real estate investment in the city is estimated at more than SR2 billion."
According to Ketabkhane, many real estate companies are currently working on offering appropriate housing for citizens.
"The Real Estate Development Fund contributes in helping middle-class citizens to own houses. Also, banks facilitate loans for citizens," he said.
Ketabkhane confirmed the Saudi real estate sector has achieved a 40 percent growth in fixed capital over the past five years.
"The establishment of industrial and economic cities will also certainly increase demand in the real estate market," he said.
Hassan Sunbul, a real estate consultant who attended the expo, confirmed Makkah development projects are now worth SR750 billion. "More projects in Makkah will be discussed during the expo," he said.
Sunbul also talked about land prices fluctuating and announced Jeddah is now implementing an index of land prices.
"Such system defines land prices based on a survey conducted by a private company," he said.
"Work is underway on the establishment of the first association of women in real estate, based in Jeddah."
"This association will be launched with the efforts of women experts and investors in the Saudi real estate sector. The association's founding committee includes about 12 women from Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam."
Dr. Saleh bin Abdulrahman Al-Henaki, vice chairman and CEO of Abdulrahman Saleh Al-Henaki Holding Company, told Arab News that his company launched the first phase of real estate development projects that will be built in the Al-Kandara, Al-Ruwais and Qaser Khozam areas.
"These projects will be done in cooperation with Jeddah municipality. Our aim is to re-build the rural areas and renew its buildings. We already eliminated all old buildings and presented our plans for new buildings. Our first project will target middle-class citizens," he said.
According to Al-Henaki, the company will help build 1,000 homes in 24 high-rise buildings. This project will allow customers to pay for homes in monthly installments. The deadline for completing this project is within two years.
"The second project, consisting of small commercial and housing units, is located in the east of the Haramain road. Within the coming two months we will start selling the units. The prices will be fixed and will never be influenced by the high prices of raw materials."
Many banks contributed to the expo in order to promote their services for people wanting to buy houses.
Abdul Rahman Bamhair, a senior officer for a bank's real estate finance department, confirmed banks found the expo a good opportunity to market their services.
"This is not our only contribution to the expo. We always aim to communicate with citizens. This year we offer many products that provide easy loans for customers," he said.
Ahmad Al-Sharqawi, general manager of the real estate development division in the Zaki Farsi group, confirmed that his company aims to communicate with citizens and understand their needs.
"We already have studies about the needs of Saudi families, but beside these studies, the expo helps us to understand more about their requirements. Our buildings contain many apartments and villas. These apartments are included in one building that also has a health club, children's area, garden, mosque, and function halls. We want to ensure Saudi families enjoy the perfect lifestyle," he said.