Housing Markets and Policy Design in the Gulf Region

The Affordable Housing Institute (AHI) announced the Gulf Research Centre Cambridge's (www.grc.net) publication of Housing Markets and Policy Design in the Gulf Region, a book‐length compilation of the key proceedings from the 2012 Gulf Research Meeting symposium held in Cambridge, UK. Co‐edited by David A. Smith, Affordable Housing Institute (Boston), and Angus Freeman, Maxwell Stamp (Riyadh), this is the first book‐length exploration of Gulf region housing as a distinct asset class and critical policy/ programmatic outcome essential to the future economic, social, and political health of Gulf countries.

"People tend to think affordable housing 'just happens'," explained co‐editor David A. Smith of AHI. "But in fact, when a city's economy is growing, the city often produces un‐affordable housing – high‐end market housing that middle‐class citizens cannot afford. This book's chapters show that to deliver truly affordable housing, government must wisely manage its use of land and the indirect subsidies of infrastructure investment, taxation, and efficient government delivery."

In the twenty‐first century, nations will compete economically based on the effectiveness and efficiency of their cities, which throughout history have been the engines of ideas, innovation, and wealth creation. As nations urbanize, and even more as they become progressively wealthier, housing rises as a national policy priority, because housing quality, availability, and affordability are all matters in the national economic and political interest. As a nation's cities become engines of wealth generation, housing cost rises even as the definition of 'market quality' is likewise rising. The result is that affordable housing is always a national imperative, because below‐market‐income people can never afford market‐quality housing.

"In addition to its social and societal benefits, housing is a significant driver of economic development and growth, especially in emerging countries," said co‐editor Angus Freeman. "If these are in place, then housing resources can be shown to pay for themselves, over the long term, through increased urban economic activity and government revenues derived from that activity."

With regional authors from Bahrain, Egypt, Oman, and the UAE, and global experts from France, the UK, and the US, Housing Markets and Policy Design in the Gulf Region is a landmark publication that is essential reading for Gulf policy makers, market participants, and investors.