Expat high flyers in Saudi investing in European property

Published:  18 Sep at 6 PM
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As the escalating trend in EU states of offering residency to expat purchasers of upscale properties takes hold, Saudi’s high-earning expats are taking notice. At present, around five per cent of the expat high-earning elete are buying expensive European apartments in order to obtain residency permits.

Talal Samarquandi of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce’s Real Estate Committee confirmed that the reason behind the purchases was to gain residency in a European country. The continuing weakness of the euro, he added, has also encouraged investment in overseas property by both wealthy Saudi citizens and top foreign executives.

He noted that, due to the Saudization programme, expats are now feeling less than secure in the kingdom, as their work permits are tied to their sponsors. Many, he feels, are buying property and gaining residency in EU countries so that they can be certain of a permanent home.

Another reason for investing in property abroad, he believes, is that most foreigners working in the kingdom see Saudi property prices as being too high to be realistic. However, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar are seeing totals of expat property investment of around SR10 billion, with Qatar popular since 2006 when it began to offer residency permits along with high-end housing units.

At present, most of the interest in European residency permits along with property deals involves expats from India and several Moslem countries including Egypt and Syria. As the situation regarding expat employment in Saudi becomes more difficult, overseas workers from other countries are expected to follow suit.
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