Gulf tourists fuel Bosnia luxury sector

Sarajevo /AFP

With 360 villas and apartments around an artificial lake, swimming pools, a halal supermarket and a Muslim prayer area, the ‘Sarajevo resort’ is one of Bosnia’s most ambitious residential projects to date. It is one of dozens of real estate ventures in the picturesque hills surrounding the capital of the Balkan country that are specifically targeting visitors from Gulf states. The lush greenery of the country has in recent years become a magnet for wealthy Arabs looking to escape the Middle Eastern summer heat. The result has been a massive boost to tourism in what is one of Europe’s poorest countries.
“People from the Gulf are attracted by the natural beauty, the presence of Islam and the warmth of Bosnians,” said Tarek Al Khaja, Emirati co-owner of tourist andreal estate agency Al Suwaidi and Al Khaja. ” “They feel welcome here.”
Al Khaja, who opened his business three years ago in a Sarajevo suburb, said the housing and real estate market was in ‘constant growth’.
Prices, he said, had increased “up to 100 percent in three years” in the Sarajevo region of Bosnia, a nation still rebuilding after its devastating 1990s inter-ethnic war.

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