Interview: Khaled Al Mashaan, Vice-Chairman and CEO, ALARGAN Group

What role do green building practices play in the development of urban areas in Kuwait?

KHALED AL MASHAAN: Facing unique environmental challenges, Kuwait stands to benefit significantly from the adoption of green building practices. By integrating energy-efficient solutions, such as advanced insulation materials, high-performance windows and smart building technologies, developers are reducing the overall energy footprint of buildings. This is essential in a region with such high reliance on air conditioning. Moreover, the incorporation of solar panels directly responds to climatic conditions, harnessing the abundant supply of sunlight to power buildings sustainably.

The use of eco-friendly materials is another cornerstone of green building practices. These materials, often sourced locally, not only reduce the environmental impact associated with transport, but also support the local economy and diversification efforts. Additionally, they incur lower maintenance and replacement costs over the building’s life cycle, which is an attractive detail for investors and occupants alike.

The government’s role in promoting green building practices through policies and regulations is pivotal. Implementing guidelines and providing incentives for sustainable construction can accelerate the adoption of these practices. Moreover, these policies signal a commitment to sustainable development, which can further boost investor confidence.

How is the real estate market adjusting to shifts in demographics and consumer preferences?

AL MASHAAN: The real estate market is actively adapting to significant changes in demographics, particularly the growing influence of the younger generation. This age group is reshaping the market’s dynamics. Developers and investors are responding to these shifts by placing an emphasis on innovative design concepts and modern architectural styles that blend aesthetics with functionality. These designs often feature open spaces, natural light and green areas, allowing residents to live health-conscious and environmentally friendly lives.

Recognising the need for spaces that blend work, leisure and social interaction, developers are integrating facilities such as cafes, restaurants, gyms and entertainment zones into residential complexes. These mixeduse developments combine residential, commercial and recreational spaces, offering a comprehensive lifestyle package that is appealing to young professionals and families. The convenience of having easy access to essential services like supermarkets, health care facilities and educational institutions is a significant draw.

To what degree is the industry positioned to foster the growth of a skilled professional workforce?

AL MASHAAN: Kuwait’s real estate industry has significant potential to boost employment and foster human capital. By investing in large-scale development projects, the sector can create job opportunities, ranging from engineering and construction to property management and maintenance. This will not only contribute to the country’s economic expansion, but also aid in developing a diverse, skilled workforce. Additionally, focusing on training and continuing education within the sector can ensure a sustainable talent pipeline.

Which strategies might broaden homeownership access in line with government targets?

AL MASHAAN: To broaden homeownership, especially for first-time buyers, several strategies could be effective, such as offering affordable housing solutions, providing financial incentives or subsidies, developing flexible financing options and implementing the mortgage law. The private sector can contribute by focusing on cost-effective construction methods and partnering with financial institutions to offer attractive mortgage plans. Ensuring housing options that cater to different income levels can help meet the growing demand and align with government targets for homeownership.