Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/27/2012 -- The outlook for Kuwait's real estate sector remains positive. The market is recovering, backed by increased government spending and robust economic growth. The most recent full year data from 2011 corroborates our prior forecast that 2011 would see a stabilisation in the market, and although the top line figures hint at slight volatility, contractions were in line with market correction, and gradual growth returned as the main course of the market. The National Bank of Kuwait estimates that the commercial real estate sector grew in value by 3% in 2011, far below the 32% growth in the residential sector.
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In the short term, the office market - in spite of historic oversupply - is posting steady growth rates, which although nowhere near their pre-crisis peak, have settled into a positive growth trajectory. Of the three sub-sectors that we analyse, BMI believes that retail holds the greatest potential in the longer term due to positive underlying fundamentals.
- The KWD37bn Kuwait Development Plan is expected to stimulate growth in the residential sector, while the Kuwait Investment Authority will invest KWD1bn in the commercial and investment segments. Projects being developed include the construction of the business hub Silk City at an estimated cost of US$77bn. Large infrastructure projects in the pipeline, such as a new railway and metro system, will also be a springboard for further sector expansion.
- Kuwait's robust economic outlook - driven by increasing hydrocarbons prices, rising oil export revenue and a strong diversification policy - underpins the sector. We forecast real GDP growth of 4.5% in 2012, down only modestly on estimated growth of 5.7% last year.
- Long-term opportunities in the retail sector through tourism, the high number of expatriates, urbanisation and increased consumer spending power. New shopping centres continue to open across Kuwait, drawing in high-end retail brands such as US delicatessen Dean and DeLuca and UK department store Harvey Nichols.
- There remains an outside chance of political instability in Kuwait. However, generous government expenditure at a time of high oil prices is likely to head off this outcome. - The most recent parliamentary elections, in February 2012, were largely contested on the issue of corruption, but there is little likelihood that the political bickering, which has dominated parliamentary proceedings in recent years, will end. As a result, there is a strong risk of continued policy stasis, worsening the outlook for economic reform. - If demand does not improve in accordance with the scheduled increase in gross leasable area (GLA), market conditions will soften further, worsening the glut in the office and industrial rental sub-sectors.
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