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Saudi Arabia launches new housing scheme to ease shortage

Published on Mar 13, 2014 6:57 PM

RIYADH (REUTERS) - Saudi Arabia's government has launched a new scheme to provide housing aid to its citizens, in the hope of ending a shortage of homes which has depressed living standards and is politically sensitive for the government.

After social discontent prompted uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world in 2011, King Abdullah announced a plan to build 500,000 homes in Saudi Arabia over several years.

Some US$67 billion (S$85 billion) of state funds were earmarked for the plan.

But the programme has been slow to get underway because of sluggish bureaucracies, difficulties in obtaining suitable land and the complexity of allocating aid. The new scheme, named ESKAN - the Arabic word for housing - and launched by the Ministry of Housing last week, aims to break through those bottlenecks.

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