Roundup: Iraqi refugees drive up real estate transactions in Jordan

The volume of real estate transactions in Jordan grew by 21 percent in the first four months in 2007 to 1. 88 billion Jordanian dinars (about 2.66 billion U.S. dollars) from 1.55 billion dinars in the same period of 2006, according to a report released by Jordanian Land and Survey Department on Thursday.

The report indicated that Iraqis, Kuwaitis and Saudis topped the list of purchasers of Jordanian land and houses.

"The rapidly growing demand for Jordanian real estate found backing from the large number of Iraqis seeking refuge in the country," said Zuhair al-Omari, chairman of the Real Estate Investments Association.

Al-Omari added that the volume of real estate investments in Jordan is expected to reach seven billion dinars in 2007.

Since the Iraq war ignited in the spring of 2003, Jordan has welcomed Iraqis to the kingdom and the housing prices have been soared. The UN estimates that there are over two million Iraqi refugees who have crossed the border and at least 750,000 of those settled in Jordan.

The numbers of Iraqis in Jordan are increasing pressure on the real estate market. Iraqis top the list of foreigners who buy real estate in Jordan, and their numbers have more than doubled, from 125 property owners in 2002 to more than 584 in 2004. An apartment that would have cost 30,000 dinars in 2003 now costs closer to 50, 000 dinars.

Musa Shetwi, a sociologist who directs the Jordanian Center for Social Studies, said that the average cost of housing far exceeds what the average Jordanian can afford.

The increases have affected not only the real estate market, but also the services, utilities and natural resources as well, the sociologist added.

At a two-day summit in Geneva held by the UN refugee agency ( UNHCR) in April, Jordan said that the 750,000 Iraqi refugees inside its borders cost it 1.4 billion dinars a year, stretching the resources of the country with a population of just 5.6 million.

Jordan has asked the international community to help it shoulder the burden of Iraqi refugees straining its resources and economy.

According to the UNHCR, inside Iraq itself there are about 1.5 million displaced Iraqis, and outside 2.5 million mainly in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. (1 U.S. dollar = 0.71 Jordanian dinars)

Source: Xinhua

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