Doha, Qatar

Oil-rich Qatar has opened its real estate market to foreigners in a move intended to shift the Gulf-nation from dependence on oil and diversify the economy.

According to announcements made in September, the Arab nation is keen on attracting foreign capital into its markets ahead of the 2022 World Cup finals to be hosted in the country.

In the new directive, foreigners can secure temporary residency if they purchase property worth $200,000, to be kept for the term of ownership. A $1 million purchase will buy you permanent residency, including free schools and healthcare.

This is a shift from the previous arrangement where foreign investors needed to be sponsored by a Qatari business or individual for residency.

“The reason I didn’t buy earlier was that there was so much grey area,” Tina Chadda, a Kenyan who has lived in Qatar for 15 years told AFP

“I think this will allow me to call Qatar home. I feel more comfortable now,” she said adding that she is now looking to invest in permanent residency. She hopes to bring along her family from Kenya once she is done.

“It’s a safe country compared to Kenya,” she said.

Consultancy firm ValuStrat’s Price Index for residential property reported that prices have dropped by almost a third in sections of Doha, Qatar’s capital, following an oversupply. The new initiative is expected to also mop up the oversupply and ramp up demand.

Doha has designated 25 locations for foreigners to buy property, mostly within the capital Doha. The areas comprise a mix of freehold (9) and 16 with 99-year leaseholds.

Justice Ministry official Saeed Abdullah al-Suwaidi the areas have been designated because they have new and developed infrastructure.

“There is no big demand, but we are trying to encourage real estate investment…We aim to diversify the economy and not depend on oil and gas,” he said.

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