RIYADH/KUWAIT: Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Jassem Al-Budaiwi said the GCC Secretariat and Gulf Railways Authority are commencing efforts to complete their works to link the railway project between GCC countries to showcase the new innovation in the region. The Secretariat General on Monday said the statement came during Budaiwi’s participation in the GCC Railway Conference in Abu Dhabi with the participation of a number of decision makers, along with chiefs and CEOs of major rail operators from across the region.

Budaiwi also assured GCC members are keen on joint effort works to accomplish the railway plan in all its active sectors, while also pointing out that willful paces have been accounted for to enable a cooperative endeavor for such a venture. Strategic planning is the aim of this preparation phase to facilitate a proper link between all nations involved in the railway project, directing the outcomes to positively impact intertrade exchange and freedom of transportation for GCC citizens and residents, while also taking into consideration joint investments which should be contributing to the promotion of economic integration.

Budaiwi added the GCC will be looking forward to these ventures with promising tangible results, as some member states have already completed parts of the project within their territories. “It is in this context that I am pleased to congratulate and thank the UAE for accomplishing their construction of railway tracks with Saudi Arabia”, said Budaiwi, who was delightfully pleased by these efforts.

Separately, a Kuwaiti ministerial committee has sent a proposal to the Cabinet to allow non-Kuwaitis to own investment residential properties, based on a decision by the justice minister and not by a Cabinet decree. The proposal will be discussed during deliberations and discussions of the new government that will be formed two weeks after the National Assembly elections on June 6, alongside the mortgage bill, which the government hopes will be approved by the National Assembly to address the housing crisis.

The proposal for expatriate ownership of real estate in Kuwait stipulates that by a decision of the minister of justice, a non-Kuwaiti may be granted the right to own one residential apartment in an investment building, provided the applicant for ownership is a permanent and legal resident of Kuwait and that no judgments have been issued against him that violate honor or trust during the duration of his stay in Kuwait.

The project also stipulates the apartment be allocated for the residence of the applicant or his family, and that the area of this apartment does not exceed 350 square meters, and that he does not own another apartment in Kuwait.

This proposal is a combination of a number of proposals submitted by various parties calling for expatriates to own real estate in Kuwait in order to revitalize the economy and attract money to Kuwait, instead of it leaving the country.

According to official data, the size of the investment property market in Kuwait is estimated at 13,000 buildings containing 320,000 apartments, and many of these buildings are mortgaged to banks. Allowing expatriates to own apartments would create liquidity to free these mortgages and inject these amounts in the national economy, creating economic growth and an active real estate sector that helps diversify the national economy and focuses on real estate development in the investment sector, reorienting it to mitigate the crisis in the housing sector.