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Saudi Arabia looks to UK, France and China for help building homes

[DUBAI] Saudi Arabia's government has authorised the housing ministry to seek the assistance of Britain, France and China in building hundreds of thousands of homes to ease a shortage of affordable housing in the kingdom.

The housing minister and his deputy were given the power to sign memorandums of understanding with those countries, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.

It gave no details of what the agreements might contain, but in March the ministry signed memorandums with South Korea and a Saudi-South Korean consortium to develop 100,000 housing units in northern Riyadh over 10 years. The consortium includes Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co and Hanwha Engineering and Construction Corp.

Under a broad economic reform plan announced last week, the Saudi government aims to increase the rate of home ownership among its citizens by 5 percentage points by 2020 from 47 per cent now. The government will provide some funding and regulatory support.

REUTERS