Several governments from around the Gulf have expressed interest in copying Bahrain’s public private partnership (PPP) housing project as a means to address a chronic shortage of affordable housing.

In numbers

93,000: Housing units needed in Kuwait

730,000: Shortfall of housing units in Saudi Arabia

Sources: HC Securities; Saudi Economy & Planning Ministry; Jones Lang Lasalle

Sources close to the Bahrain Housing Ministry, which is running the PPP project for the country, say that interest in the project has been shown by ministries from Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

“We have seen a lot of interest from other governments in the region,” says one adviser on the Bahrain scheme. “This is the first time that a project like this has occurred in the region and has the potential to be rolled out in several other places.”

Another source close to the Bahrain scheme says, “Most countries in the region have housing schemes for low income households, but actually fall short in providing the units.”

Bahrain has shortlisted three consortiums to bid on the development of 5,000 social housing units. If this first phase of the project proves successful the government hopes to develop around 20,000 housing units on a PPP basis to address a chronic shortage of affordable housing. The waiting list for housing in Bahrain is over seven years. The government plans to give land to the selected developer for free and has already earmarked three locations for the project.

Government’s around the region are keen to address the shortage of affordable housing units after a boom in the development of luxury properties over the past few years. Saudi Arabia faces a housing shortfall of around 1 million units by 2013. In the UAE schemes to assist emirati’s in affording housing have mainly been through providing individuals with loans to purchase properties, rather than government directed provision of units aimed at low income residents.