Builders told to focus on low-cost housing
Manama, November 30, 2011
Leading engineering experts at a major forum called upon the developers in the Gulf region to build houses for people in the lower strata of society.
Qatar Society of Engineers chairman Ahmad Jassim Al Jolo said the situation is critical all over the Gulf but is of particular concern in Bahrain and Qatar where there is a lot of pressure on space.
'We have a situation where there are developers who run after huge profits and make houses only for high-paying clients and we have consultants who design houses for the rich,' he told the GDN, speaking on the sidelines of the 15th Gulf Engineering Forum.
The event, under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, concludes today at Gulf Hotel's Gulf Convention Centre. It is being held under the theme Affordable housing projects.
'The idea is to reduce costs and for that, we have to have developers, consultants, designers and the government working in tandem,' he said.
'The consultants, more than ever, have to be aware of the needs of the people and not go after designing properties that are way beyond the budgets of ordinary people.'
He said the government, on the other hand, must make cheap land available for the affordable houses to be built.
'The problem in Bahrain and Qatar, and to a certain extent, in Kuwait is that there is not much space available.
'This creates problems because land reclamation takes time and it is not always the right thing to do.'
Al Jolo said it was high time there was action on the issue. 'There are profits to be made but these should be reasonable.'
He said another solution was to grow vertically rather than horizontally. 'This is the way to go but the culture in this part of the world make it impossible to do so.'
'People in the GCC are used to having their own private space and everybody wants a house. They have to get away from this thinking,' he added.
Conference organiser Bahrain Society of Engineers chairman Majeed Al Gassab said the forum had always served as an indicator to assess the situation in the engineering sector.
'We have always seen it as an important annual forum for researchers and specialists from both government entities and private agencies from different parts of the region.
They meet to discuss various engineering issues they face, so that they can make timely course corrections and plan for the future.'
He said the GCC region has witnessed a high increase in the prices of both property and construction material which made it difficult for people with limited income to build their own houses.
'Due to this financial requirement, many people, especially from the young generation, cannot build their houses.'
He said engineers play an essential role in designing and applying new ideas to help reach new solutions to satisfy these requirements under the umbrella of new engineering mechanism.
'Finding solutions to this problem is not the responsibility of engineers or architects alone, it is also the responsibility of urban planners through provision of suitable urban planning solutions, including infrastructure,' he added.-TradeArabia News Service