The conference is in co-operation with the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and in association with Islamic Banker magazine.
According to a study conducted by Samba Financial Group, the Kingdom is positioned to earn an all-time record, SR761 billion ($ 202.9 billion) in oil exports earnings this year, representing a 25-percent increase in oil earnings compared to last year. Furthermore, according to many bankers, the projected magnitude of the capital flows in the GCC and Saudi economy over the next few years is 'mind-boggling.'
This massive liquidity in the market has also generated huge private wealth, which is continuously in search of value added investment opportunities both at home and abroad.
IREF is the first international real estate conference to be organized in the Kingdom, which also straddles both the conventional and Shariah-compliant investment sectors. Saudi Arabia is by far the single largest real estate market in the GCC, whether in terms of owners of capital; market size or potential market growth, accounting for US$ 12,800 million followed by the UAE with US$ 8,049 million.
According to various estimates, private liquidity in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries is a staggering US$ 2.3 trillion, of which US$ 1.5 trillion is in the GCC alone. Moreover, the contribution of the real estate sector to GDP in the GCC, according to Global Research, totaled US$ 27,274 million in 2004, some 5.8 per cent of GDP.
Also perhaps one of the most promising market indicators is that 36 per cent of GCC population is under the age of 15. This alone suggests huge future demand for housing stock. High quality office space is in short supply in Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah, and Doha. This has had an upward impact on prices.
With all these factors in play, this conference aims to leverage these factors and to highlight the role, contribution and importance of the sector to the Saudi economy, comes at a perfect time. It aims to explore and inform interested parties about the current state of the real estate market, focusing particularly on the regional markets and those markets that are popular locations of GCC investment such as the US, UK, and the EU.
The conference will consider new market opportunities; future product trends including private equity, REITS and Waqfs; innovations in housing finance; developments in social housing; and the case for real estate insurance. It will also discuss the spectacular emergence of Shariah-compliant real estate investments.
Mohamed Abdullah Al-Sharif, Secretary General of the Jeddah Chamber of commerce commented that: 'With global oil markets sustaining current levels; all projections indicate that increasing GDP growth rate and levels of private wealth in the Kingdom and Gulf States will maintain an upward momentum in the foreseeable future. Most analysts stress that real estate, as an asset class will dominate the investment scene in the Kingdom and the region, including in new areas such as social housing, home financing, and securitization. As such this conference which focuses on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the GCC and international markets could not be more timely.'
In the past IREF has brought together professionals and practitioners from the global real estate sectors as well as those from the conventional and Islamic financing industry. Continuing this tradition, IREF ME 2006 will feature presentations from over 40 distinguished speakers from all over the world focusing on the hottest topics in their areas of expertise.