Bahrain’s low cost housing problem

My latest commission is a piece on Bahrain’s housing backlog for MEED. My research so far has been very interesting. It is part of the Bahraini constitution that nationals on a low income (BD<900)  will be provided with housing by the state. According to a confidential government source there is a list of 47,000 people in Bahrain waiting for this – and some have been waiting for 17 years. It doesnt help that the housing ministry has been restructured several times and that its budget is not very big.

However the official says that hope is on the horizon for those on low incomes as the Economic Development Board has made it a national priority and has turned to the private sector. Developers are expecting to see the region’s first housing PPP come to market this month with the aim of getting 5,000 new properties built. Overall EDB wants 20,000 using this model by 2020.

But lots of questions remain. How will this work when state help is tiered? Those on the lowest incomes get whole houses, those on medium to low salaries get low cost loans and land. Who will the new homes be pitched at? Added to the complexity is the fact that a new SMART construction centre supported by the housing ministry and Chinese contractors was set up in 2009 leading to local contractors to grumble that they would lose out on future work to international firms. My research continues……

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