March 25, 2011 / 4:06 PM / 9 years ago

Facing housing crisis, Saudi Arabia sets up ministry

RIYADH, March 25 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has set up a ministry for housing, the kingdom’s state news agency said on Friday, as the world’s largest oil exporter seeks to address huge demand for new homes.

The Gulf nation is facing a massive housing problem due to rapid population growth and an inflow of expatriate workers coming to the kingdom.

A report by Banque Saudi Fransi last week said private and public developers need to build about 275,000 units a year through 2015 to meet the the country’s demands for about 1.65 million new homes. [ID:nLDE72J0E6]

Shwaish bin Saud al-Duwaihi al-Mutairi was appointed minister of housing, it said in a statement without giving further details.

Last week King Abdullah announced $93 billion in social handouts which included 250 billion riyals ($66.7 billion) to be spent on 500,000 new homes.

The move was part of the ruler’s efforts to stave off a wave of Arab unrest that has gripped neigbouring Bahrain, Yemen and Oman.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy where political parties are banned and there is no elected parliament.

Reporting by Jason Benham; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton

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