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GCC nationals may face housing clamp

Bahrain News
Fri, 05 Feb 2016
Mohammed Al A'Ali


Bahrain: GCC nationals may be banned from owning residential property in Bahrain due to limited spaces available for Bahrainis.

A group of MPs, led by Shaikh Majid Al Majed, is working on new legislation that would stop GCC nationals from getting their hands on new plots earmarked for homes or from buying homes that are on sale.

This follows a decision by the Northern Municipal Council to reclassify decades-old green areas in the Northern Governorate into residential areas.

This will allow developers to build affordable “social” homes for people rather than wait for the Eskan (Housing) Bank to give out houses through instalments or loans.

However, MPs are worried that with GCC nationals showing interest, especially in areas near the King Fahad Causeway, new available plots or
homes there would sell at higher prices.

“Nowadays, there are no green areas and what used to be known as rich gardening plots mainly in the Northern Governorate are long gone,” said Shaikh Majid, who is area councillor for Hamala, Demistan, Janabiya, Saar and Buri.

“It is expensive to maintain green areas nowadays and many let their farms or gardens die so they can get permission to build or sell for residential purposes,” he said.

“It is both bad and good. Bad because green areas will shrink significantly, which is inevitable considering the growing rate of urbanisation, and good because people will have reasonably-priced plots or developers can build affordable homes.”

“However, whenever Bahrainis try to buy plots or affordable homes, GCC nationals who want property in Bahrain jump in because they have the money and can pay more.”

Shaikh Majid said new legislation is being drawn up to ban GCC nationals from buying residential property and allowing them to buy only in investment-classified areas.

“Bahrain has limited space for people to build their homes, and housing under the Constitution is a priority to Bahrainis, not GCC nationals,” he said.

“GCC nationals can continue getting investment areas and other free government services and equal treatment as Bahrainis, but not when it comes to homes.”

Council chairman Mohammed Buhamood said the concept of green areas has disappeared in Bahrain with people now more interested in having a roof over their heads.

Protected

“We have changed classification mainly in coastal areas like Hamala, Demistan and Jasra to allow people to build homes in what used to be green areas,” he said.

“Big farms and gardens will, however, remain protected and untouched.

“I am not an MP and can’t say who should or should not be allowed to buy homes, but my main aim is to help Bahrainis get a roof to live under.”

mohammed@gdn.com.bh