Abdullatif Al Shelash says Saudi Arabia’s real estate market is strengthening as the Kingdom’s population and middle-income bracket soars. Al Arabiya news channel also reports that within the next eight years, 70% of Saudi citizens are projected to own homes. Much of that new construction is happening in Buraydah, according to Sheikh Abdullatif Al Shelash.
Buraydah, which is a burgeoning city north of Riyadh and the biggest city in Qassim district, is farming country, according to Al Shelash, but it’s also one of the most densely populated areas.
“You could say it has more inhabitants than Bahrain and Qatar combined, and yet there is no five-star hotel there,” Abdullatif Al Shelash says.
This is something the real estate-savvy businessman says he hopes to change.
“We started purchasing and focusing on second-tier cities, such as Buraydah, where we think that they will have a new cycle of real estate that are taking place in Saudi,” Abdullatif Al Shelash says. “We're looking also at global investments, we're looking at different markets, different opportunities globally.”
The current population of the metro area of Buraydah is 700,000, a 2.19% increase from 2021, according to macrotrends.net. Travel has also picked up. In August, Kuwaiti airline Jazeera Airways announced that it was adding four weekly flights to the Prince Nayef Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Buraydah.
Abdullatif Al Shelash says Alaqtar Real Estate Development Company worked on the Alaqtar Towers in Buraydah. According to alaqtar.com, it will be “ideal for integrated and modern residential communities, as it takes care of the smallest details, starting with the residential areas that exceed 2,000 housing units of various sizes, and the commercial centers that exceed 100 pieces to meet the needs of the family, in addition to the green spaces, government facilities, and mosques to give you [in] this exceptional community a comfortable, quiet, and modern life.”
“Demand for flights to Saudi Arabia has really grown and we’re pleased to offer more choice to the Kingdom for Kuwaiti travelers,” Jazeera Airways Chief Executive Officer Rohit Ramachandran said in a press release. “The momentum is expected to continue as events and festivals resume in the Kingdom for the cooler months. There are strong ties between Kuwaiti and Saudi families and we now offer a flight for them to connect rather than take to the highway.”
Abdullatif Al Shelash says through his company, Alaqtar, they’re constructing 2 million-square-meter developments in Buraydah Al-Qassim.
“It's catered more toward middle income,” Abdullatif Al Shelash says. “And we're doing it in a different method, where meanwhile we're doing infrastructure development, which is the electricity, water, pipelines, pavements, land leveling, and all of that, and dividing the plot and getting the final approval and the size of the plot. We offer smaller developers an opportunity to really get a discount on the land prices or even get a deferred payment on the land prices, to start constructing homes.”
Abdullatif Al Shelash is also on the board of Saudi Home Loans, which is a major purveyor of mortgages in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Thanks to Al Shelash’s early efforts, he became a pioneer on the forefront of mortgages in Saudi Arabia, which didn’t become legal until 2012.
Saudi Home Loans has become one of the leading companies in the field of Islamic funding for meeting the basic housing needs of clients in the Saudi market, according to a 2021 annual board members report. Saudi Home Loans also has an 80.5% customer satisfaction rate, beating the 70% required by the Central Bank.
Connecting clients with their dream properties is something that
Abdullatif Al Shelash says the company is happy to do.
“[The] real estate sector was not that a priority for the country in the past,” Abdullatif Al Shelash says. “Right now, [the] real estate sector has been the second biggest sector after oil petrochemicals in Saudi.”
However, the real estate sector is drastically changing in Saudi Arabia with Saudi Arabia’s GDP slated to have climbed by 11.8% as of Q2 of this year. In Jeddah, average rents have increased and demand for office space continues to fuel the Riyadh real estate sector. Zawya reports that Amazon opened a new office in Riyadh in October. The e-commerce market first entered the Saudi market in 2020.
“We are pleased to inaugurate our new office in the capital of the Kingdom, confirming our commitment to serving Amazon customers, vendor partners, and employees in the Kingdom,” Ronaldo Mouchawar, vice president of Amazon Middle East and North Africa, told zawya.com. “We will continue to develop our investments in the Kingdom across various sectors, including e-commerce, smart devices, and Amazon Payment Services, among others.”
Amazon’s presence in Saudi Arabia is just another facet expected to bolster economic growth in the Kingdom.
Rents and prices for residential real estate in Riyadh are also growing. Thierry Delvaux, CEO, Middle East, Africa, and Turkey at JLL, told Arab News, “We are seeing single-digit growth for both.” He also added that the residential sector is seeing single-digit growth in terms of rents.
Still for businessmen like Al Shelash, seeing his fellow countrymen and women fulfill the dream of homeownership remains at the heart of his mission.
“It means a lot to me,” he says.