Saudi expat arrivals find no room at the inn

Saudi expat arrivals find no room at the inn

Saudi expat arrivals find no room at the inn

Long waiting lists for homes in Riyadh’s coveted expat housing complexes may mean a dismal Christmas for many newly-arrived executives and their families.

At present, the market is so tight that desperate private sector employees are posting frantic appeals for family accommodation on the Saudi expat forums. Following the 2003 to 2005 attacks on foreign workers in the kingdom, most expats have retreated to the protected housing complexes for their strict security and leisure facilities unaffected by Saudi’s strict Wahabi Islamic laws.

The move has caused rents to soar over the last several years, with three-bedroomed homes in more expensive compounds topping £67,000 a year. The present shortage of suitable and affordable compound housing has caused a massive backlog in applications at exactly the time that more expats are arriving to serve the booming oil-rich economy.

Mid-range properties in particular are in short supply, with incomers forced to overextend their housing budgets as a result. Residents in Eid Villas, a premium Riyadh compound, sit behind high walls protected by the Saudi National Guard, and Saudi citizens are prohibited from entry due to the ‘corruption’ of Western influences, and living in the city isn’t an option for families, as women’s movement is totally restricted and it’s impossible to develop a social circle.

Help is at hand, but isn’t expected to materialize for two years or more, when mid-range developments in the planning stages finally come on stream. A 50 per cent increase in available properties is expected, although even this may not cope with the waiting lists as demand for expat workers is also increasing.

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