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Housing Markets and Policy Design in the Gulf Region

Author: Edited by David A. Smith and Angus Freeman

Book | Sep 01, 2014

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Housing is what creates and defines cities, and affordable housing is what makes successful and scalable cities. Indeed, housing is the spatial expression of a society’s values and morality, and of its commitment to an inclusive society. In the Gulf region, characterized by rapid urbanization and astonishing transformation over the last two decades, housing is absolutely urgent as a national priority.

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. The inescapable gravity of land-use economics means that 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.

The Gulf region has an unusually large number of factors that make the emergence and development of quality affordable housing a challenge without obvious parallels or examples elsewhere in the world. As a result, the region presents a set of housing and affordable housing delivery challenges unique in their own right. These challenges will require solutions based on innovation in both the private and public sectors.

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