Real Estate

Saudi Arabia approves 2.5% ‘white land tax’

Saudi Arabia has approved proposals for a 2.5% ‘white land tax’, which will apply to undeveloped residential and residential/commercial plots within urban boundaries. The law will come into force six months after the Ministry of Housing’s release of detailed regulations, the publication of which will take place within the next six months. Once implemented, proceeds from the tax will be deposited into an account of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, and will be used to fund housing and related infrastructure projects in the Kingdom. The law is intended to stimulate further development to meet the demand for middle-income housing in Saudi Arabia. JLL predicts that some land owners will bring forward plans and begin development in order to avoid the additional tax burden of holding undeveloped land. Others, it suggests, will seek to sell sites to other developers, which should help to reduce land values.

Bahrain's Arcapita and Saudi's Al Rajhi Capital exit real estate fund

Bahrain-based Arcapita has sold real estate assets it jointly held with Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Capital for 1.35 billion Saudi riyals ($359.81 million), the two companies said in a joint statement. The ARC Real Estate Fund, which had a lifespan of five years, acquired seven assets in logistics, warehousing and retail in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, they said in the statement. The fund appointed an external consultant to advise on the sale in April. They did not say who they had sold the assets to. Al Rajhi Capital is the investment banking arm of Saudi Arabian lender, Al Rajhi Bank.

UPDATE 1-Saudi's Kingdom Holding, Alinma plan $2.2 bln fund for tallest building

Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Holding said its affiliate Jeddah Economic Co (JEC) had arranged financing to complete construction of the world's tallest building. JEC agreed with Alinma Bank to establish an 8.4 billion riyal ($2.2 billion) real estate development fund that will finish work on the $1.2 billion Kingdom Tower in Jeddah. The Islamic fund will also develop the 1.5 sq km (0.6 sq miles) first phase of the Jeddah Economic City project. In addition to Kingdom Tower, the scheme is to include Saudi Arabia's largest shopping mall. Alinma Bank will finance the new fund, which is to be managed by Alinma Investment, Kingdom added without elaborating on how the money would be raised.

Experts: Real estate prices in Saudi Arabia will fall gradually

Expected to decrease by up to 30 % of land and real estate value. Real estate experts expect property prices in Saudi Arabia to decline gradually over the coming years and return to normal levels.
According to their forecasts, this will only happen with implementing the new regulation of fees on undeveloped plots of land in urban areas (white lands), the decline in real estate mortgage and the drop in oil prices in the Kingdom. Prices are expected to fall by up to 30 % of the land and real estate value, reports
On this basis, Ihsan Buhulaiga, a former member of the Shura Council and an economic expert, says: “White lands’ law will ensure that landlords have only two alternatives: the first one is selling the land and the other is to develop an economic project based on market need.”
Eng. Mohammed Babahar says: “These new procedures are considered an excellent step to cure the Saudi real estate market and escape the inflation that has swept the market and pushed the prices up by more than 300 % and doubled the rental rates.”

Land deals accounted for 89 % of the total at SAR26.3bn

The value of real estate deals declined since mid of October 2015 until the middle of the current month by 24 per cent to SAR29.6 billon compared with the same period last year, recent data shows.
According to data issued by the Saudi Ministry of Justice, real estate deals divided between residential and commercial, witnessed a fall in residential deals by 36 % to reach SAR18.6bn, while commercial deals rose by 8 % to SAR11bn.
Real estate land deals accounted for 89 % of the total at SAR26.3bn, reports Al Riyadh Newspaper.
Riyadh was the most active city in terms of residential real estate deals with a value of SAR 6.2bn, down by 28 % YoY, followed by Jeddah with SAR3.7bn, down by 13 %. In terms of commercial deals, Riyadh came in first place with SAR4.9bn and a rise of 18 %.

Qatar invests $5.24 billion in global real estate market

Global real estate consultancy firm CBRE says that both Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have pumped $5.24 billion and $4.54bn respectively as foreign direct investment in global real estate.
CBRE’s latest report shows that the global real estate markets attracted investments worth more than $407bn during the first half of 2015, the highest since 2007. This represents an increase of 14 per cent from the same period of the year’s performance in 2014.
Although the pace of growth has accelerated over the past years, the rate of growth slowed in the first half of 2015 and a great variation can be observed in growth at the regional and international levels, reports Qatar-based Al-Sharq.
Despite the fall in oil prices, the buyers from the Middle East have maintained their high investment activity and, overall, pumped $11.5bn into foreign markets during the first half of 2015.
Nick Maclean, managing director, CBRE Middle East says: “Data from H1 2015 shows a continuing acceleration in the flow of capital out of the Middle East region by private offices and high-net-worth-individuals.”

Firm advises on first Shari’ah compliant real estate financing

A team lead by Ashurst finance partner Jamie Ng has completed the first Shari’ah compliant murabaha in Australia.

The structured financing arrangement funded by ANZ enabled a commodity transaction to finance an interest in a Melbourne property at 747 Collins St, by one of Malaysia’s largest pension funds, Tabung Haji. Ashurst acted for investment manager CIMB-TrustCapital, as well as Tabung Haji on the deal.

“Shari'ah compliant financings can be complex and involve parallel consideration of various Shari'ah structuring, legal and taxation issues to produce an outcome that is not only viable, but which is commercially and legally robust,” Ng told Australasian Lawyer.

The demand for Shari’ah compliant financing, particularly in the real estate sector, is a growing trend driven by both Australian and off shore investors, according to Ng.

“We are seeing a considerable degree of interest in Shari'ah compliant on-shore financing products, and we have fielded an influx of enquiries from offshore investment vehicles out of the Middle East and Asia wanting to know more about the structures available in Australia,” he said.

Guidance investments announces first closure of logistics real estate investment fund targeting GCC investors

Guidance Investments has announced the first closure of its Logistics Real Estate Investment Fund, South East Asia's first Fund focused on the logistics and industrial sectors, at USD 100 million. The first close puts the Fund in a strong position to hit its target of USD 400 million with a number of additional closings planned over the next 18 months. A Malaysian financial organization is the anchor investor of the landmark Fund. Other investors include pension funds, a supra-national institution, endowment funds and family offices from the GCC and the Middle East. The Fund has secured 3 transactions to-date, with a steady pipeline in active negotiations.

Dubai's Sunrise Properties raises $140 mln in Islamic loan deal

Sunrise Properties has secured a 515 million dirham ($140.22 million) Islamic loan for the development of a luxury hotel project, banking group Emirates NBD, the main arranger of the deal, said. Emirates NBD, joined by Doha Bank, are providing the money to finance the Emerald Palace Kempinski Hotel project on Dubai's Palm Jumeirha group of islands. The tenure and margin on the murabaha-structured loan were not disclosed. Bank lending to real estate sector remains buoyant, with credit to the construction and real estate sector totalling 216.2 billion dirhams in the second quarter of this year from 210.6 billion dirhams in the year ago period.

ALI eyes Islamic bond sale to fund venture in Malaysia

Property giant Ayala Land Inc. is looking at debuting at the Islamic financing market by issuing sukuk securities, to boost its fledgling venture into Malaysia’s property industry. ALI in April acquired 9.16 percent of Malaysian company GW Plastics Holdings Bhd. through a private placement amounting to $43 million or P1.9 billion. The Malaysian firm was later renamed MCT Bhd. ALI subsequently entered into a call option agreement with the two founders of the Malaysian firm, allowing it to increase its shares in MCT up to a maximum of 32.95 percent. To fund the entire investment, which needs to be accomplished in a month’s time, Ysmael said ALI is looking at the cheapest options available.

EIIB-Rasmala expands real estate investment business, acquires property in UK

European Islamic Investment Bank plc (EIIB-Rasmala) has announced the expansion of its real estate business. Simultaneously, the Group has also announced the acquisition of a commercial office building for GBP 11.8 million ($17.9 million, AED 65.9 million), located on the Doxford International Business Park. The real estate division will focus on identifying high quality, income generating opportunities in the UK, Europe and the United States. The primary focus will be on the UK. The Group expects to invest approximately $1.5 billion in a broad mix of real estate transactions over the next three years, with $750 million being allocated for investments in the UK.

The Rise of Affordable Housing in the Gulf

According to a 2011 report by Jones Lang LaSalle, the MENA and GCC region was in need of 3.5 million affordable homes. A 2015 update by JLL said that this shortage has in all likelihood increased since then. In Saudi Arabia, JLL estimated the shortage in 2011 to be around 400,000 homes, which has resulted from a rapidly growing population, a limited supply of completed developments and a lack of access to housing finance for middle-income earners, it said. For other Gulf markets, the roots of the problem are in the ground. Governments across the Gulf are being moved to take action.

QInvest launches sharia'a-compliant real estate fund in partnership with Pramerica Real Estate Investors

QInvest has launched the QInvest Pramerica Liquid Real Estate Fund in partnership with Pramerica Real Estate Investors, the real estate investment management business of U.S.-headquartered Prudential Financial, Inc. Pramerica will serve as the subadvisor of the Fund. The new Fund will invest exclusively in high yielding sharia'a-compliant real estate investment trusts and other real estate-related securities, sourced globally by the fully dedicated real estate securities team at Pramerica. The new Fund will be hosted on QMAP, QInvest's managed account platform.

Wethaq Egypt to launch property fund next November

Egypt's Wethaq Takaful Insurance is to launch its first real estate fund during upcoming general assembly scheduled for next November, head of financial and administration affairs Abdel El Aziz Labib said. Wethaq will present 50 million Egyptian pounds (US$6.4 million) as an initial capital for the new fund. The Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA) has granted initial approval for the fund. Wethaq intends to raise the capital of its fund to 250 million pounds within few years after inception, a step toward a plan to launch another fund. Furthermore, Labib said Wethaq's talks with the Egyptian regulator had also included a proposal to establish a new subsidiary to manage the new fund. The new subsidiary shall be 20% owned by Wethaq Egypt, he added.

Islamic REITs picking up momentum amid shaky market environment

Another upcoming placement of a Shariah-compliant Real Estate Investment Trust, or Islamic REIT, in Southeast Asia amid a shaky financial market environment shows that the demand for this kind of investment vehicle remains high and the formation of similar REITs in and outside their main playing ground Malaysia will likely pick up momentum. Johor Corp Bhd, the investment arm of Johor state, will list its second REIT, named Al-Salam REIT, on the stock exchange in Kuala Lumpur on September 29. The initial public offering is expected to bring in close to $60mn, with 98% of the units to be sold to institutional investors.

Iranian investment in Dubai property likely to rise

Iranians are likely to become major buyers of Dubai property again if sanctions against the Islamic Republic are lifted, providing a much-needed fillip to the emirate's real estate sector. Dubai property prices have fallen slightly this year, ending a sustained rebound from 2008-9 crash after tougher regulations to deter speculators, a slump in oil prices and weakening confidence in the global economy dampened sentiment. In 2010, Iranians were the fourth largest foreign buyers of Dubai property, behind India, Britain and Pakistan, and accounted for 12 percent of real estate transactions.

Gatehouse completes £8.6 million financing of UK petrol station portfolio

Gatehouse Bank plc has announced the completion of an £8.6 million senior financing to support Investra's acquisition of a portfolio of five petrol stations in the UK. Based in Dubai and with an office in London, Investra is an investor of UK real estate. This transaction is the second financing which Gatehouse has completed in partnership with an equity sponsor based in the GCC region in the past six months. Investra is looking to increase our holdings of high-quality income generating assets. Henry Thompson, CEO of Gatehouse, said he was looking forward to announcing further transactions in the coming months.

2015 IREF Summit: Billions of Dollars Emanating from GCC & Muslim Jurisdictions Seeking Real Estate Investment Opportunities with the GCC, alone, Pumping $4.5bn into Global Property Markets

There is little doubt that real estate as an asset class has become more important since the financial crisis with billions of dollars of investment emanating from the GCC and Muslim jurisdictions increasingly seeking Shariah compliant investment opportunities in key global real estate markets. With recent GBP1.35 billion financing of the Battersea Power Station - one of the largest real estate financings in the UK in recent years, the IREF Summit comes at a good timing. This year's IREF Summit provides a focused platform to discuss key issues, identify opportunities and forge new business relationships. For further information on the Summit please visit or contact

Faisal Islamic Bank in talks to finance medium-class housing units

Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt is currently negotiating with four real estate investment firms to take part in the central bank's social housing initiative, Product Manager-Mortgage Unit Mahmoud Idris said. Idris stated that the bank is to sign a protocol with one of those companies this week. He refused to reveal the names of the four firms before finishing the agreements. In 2014, Egypt's Central Bank (CBE) launched a new initiative worth 10 billion Egyptian pounds (US$1.4 billion) to stimulate the mortgage sector.

Johor Corp to list RM252.36m Islamic REIT on Sept 22

Johor state investment arm Johor Corp will list its Islamic real estate investment trust (REIT) known as Al-Salam on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia on Sept 22. Al-Salam REIT is seeking to raise gross proceeds of RM252.36 million arising from the issuance of 252.36 million offer units, based on an offer price of RM1 per unit, which will account for 43.5% of the trust. The bulk or RM242.86 million of the proceeds raised from the initial public offering (IPO) will be used to pay for the purchase of five properties that will make up the initial portfolio.The Islamic REIT will primarily comprise commercial retail, office and industrial purposes as well as real estate-related assets.

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