KSA’s Dar Al Arkan launches Bosnia residential project
Dar Al Arkan, the Saudi Arabia-based real estate development company, has announced plans for the launch of its first European residential project – a 500,000sqm luxury development in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In a statement, the developer says that the project, situated in a forest 30 minutes from the country’s capital, Sarajevo, will break ground in the early part of 2021. It adds that it has secured the municipal and federal approval for the development, which is set to be the largest single real estate project in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Yusuf bin Abdullah Al-Shalash, chairman of Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development, says: "Today, Dar Al Arkan has placed a golden opportunity into the hands of investors. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a cultural destination with an authentic history, traditions, and a wonderful natural environment. The country is growing in popularity, so this is a perfect investment for those wishing to be part of the country's developing luxury tourism and hospitality sector."
The statement explains that the project will incorporate ‘contemporary villas’ with designs inspired by local architecture, which will feature ‘stylish interiors that harmoniously blend with spectacular views’.
Facilities that come with the development include a clubhouse, a hotel and spa, a gym, food and beverage outlets, and a children’s playground, the statement adds.
"This will be a wonderful haven for those wishing to relax within a private, second-home gated community surrounded by luxury facilities and services. We believe the development will attract both Bosnian and international investors,” says Yusuf bin Abdullah Al-Shalash.
Central European countries have drawn interest from GCC-based investors and developers in recent years, particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring. Mountainous Bosnia and Herzegovina, where half the population is Muslim, has emerged as a leading investment destination thanks to its low prices and cost of living as compared to other European countries. An added advantage is that investors have the right to own real estate.
Founded in 1994 by six prominent business families, Dar Al Arkan is a Saudi joint stock company headquartered in Riyadh. The company is active in real estate development in the Kingdom, with projects throughout the country and in the UAE. It has international offices in Dubai, London and Bosnia.
The move to develop the residential project in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the developer’s first attempt to expand its portfolio into Europe.
The construction industry: Facing a mental health crisis
Data collected by the Office for National Statistics has shown that more than 2,000 construction workers took their own lives in 2017. Other findings from a study conducted by the Glasgow Caledonian University show that the problem is getting worse. From 2017 to 2019, the number of suicides per 100,000 rose from 26 to 29, with people in the construction industry three times more likely to take their own lives in 2019 compared to other industries.
Why is the construction industry experiencing a rise in mental health conditions?
Bill Hill, Chief Executive of the mental health charity Lighthouse Club, says that one reason for the rise in mental health conditions is due to financial pressure. He said that it is a “huge factor” in construction, “causing stress, depression, and anxiety”. He added that several self-employed workers are “brilliant tradespeople but don’t have the education”, which may be helpful in running their business.
“They win a project, someone pays them a big invoice but they don’t put money aside for VAT [and then] the taxman asks for payment so they get finance. It tumbles from there. Sole trader-style business management should be taught at apprenticeship level”, Hill said.
According to Lighthouse Club, the industry is “hugely fragmented” and “difficult to reach over half of the 2.8mn self-employed construction workers. “Some larger companies have done a fantastic job on mental health”, Hill says. “But only apply their programmes and workshops to their own staff. Until you get to the huge mass of very capable tradespeople who are getting no input, one of the biggest problems is awareness”.
How can awareness of mental health be improved in the construction industry?
Chief Executive of the Construction Industry Council, Graham Watts, says that the industry has made positive steps forward on mental wellbeing but that “it is still not doing nearly enough” to support staff in this area.
Looking at how awareness of mental health can be improved in the industry today, Watts said: “Today, I would hope it is easier to be more open about mental health. I’m impressed by the leadership that is being shown by some companies – for example, Tideway, where Chief Executive Andy Mitchell has ‘mental health first aider’ immediately after his email sign-off – but it is still only being exhibited by the best of the best”.
Lighthouse club has also launched a campaign for construction workers to raise more awareness of mental health in the industry. Named “Help Inside the Hard Hat”, the campaign makes all workers aware of the services that Lighthouse Club offers, “regardless of employment status”, the charity says. Lighthouse Club is taking particular care to encourage contractors to put up posters on sites and ensure that they reach all workers, including the self-employed.
The charity also has a free app that allows workers to access mental health information and resources. Lighthouse Club is also improving the availability of information by working with partners such as the Safer Highways charity and Glasgow Caledonian University. But the charity is working on improving the understanding and destigmatisation of mental health in the industry one step at a time. Hill said: “The first thing is suicides,” says Hill. “That is the number one benchmark of all the work we are doing – are we reducing suicides in the industry?”.
If you are a construction worker - or someone you know is and you need support, you can call the Lighthouse Club helpline on 0345 605 1956.