The parliamentarians have expats in their sights again.
They reason that allowing expats to purchase land – something of a scarce commodity in Bahrain – with their good salaries would mean Bahrainis would simply be unable to compete, in the event of any auction of land or residence package was contemplated.
There should be government intervention to reassure Bahrainis, if I could use Australian parlance, because Bahrainis should “get a fair go”.
Give Bahrainis the increasing opportunities for land and property, allocations provided by the government, and the belief that Bahrainis have a right to be allocated public housing – each time new houses become available.
Parliament now agrees that expats should be allowed to purchase land and property, but in designated areas.
It has Intervened, calling for expats to only to purchase property in particular dedicated enclaves such as Amwaj Islands or some dedicated tourist areas, presumably built by off-plan developers.
Fair enough, a similar situation applies in other countries, for example in Australia.
Australian people in cities, like Sydney and Melbourne, are unable to get into the housing market because wealthy, international property investors are dominating the markets.
Every weekend auctions are dominated by such buyers, so first homebuyers wanting to purchase land and property coming on the market – particularly in the prestige suburbs, including with waterfront or harbour views – are missing out.
While such properties are usually out of reach of most Australians, cashed-up foreign investors are often able to afford them.
They purchase old properties, which they plan to knock down, and rebuild anew.
But in many non-harbourside suburbs, there are many people who want to purchase places closer to their workplaces, often near a railway line heading into sprawling cities.
In a measure to give young people a fair go, the Australian government has intervened in the markets, setting limits on international investors – and the flow on to other international investors, looking for cheaper suburban places and pricing those seeking a place to raise families out of the market.
The downturn in the housing industry in major capitals is now working more effectively, making more places available and mortgages more possible.
This follows a recent royal commission into Australian banks and renewed lending policy.
Expats, during my time in Bahrain, mostly rented properties from Bahraini landlords, mostly for convenience, ease, getting to the airport, wonderful restaurants, supermarkets, malls, movie theatres, excellent shops, access to private medical practices and hospitals.
They would go to local hotels for entertainment, attend cultural events and visit improving public beaches, as well as good private beaches.
This means they are spending money locally, putting money back into the economy, renting properties in compounds owned by Bahraini landlords, which might otherwise remain empty.
The one we rented in Janibiyah for 10 years still remains largely vacant.
So, allowing expats to purchase property?
Expats generally plan on going home when a useful task is done, so herding them into enclaves is perhaps economically self-defeating.
Don’t cut off noses to spite faces.