The first Saudi REIT

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Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are huge in the West, and they'd seem especially well-suited to investors in the Middle East given the strong appetite here for property investing and the apparent ease with which REITs can be made Sharia-compliant. So it doesn't surprise me that Encore Management, a Swiss asset management firm based in Geneva, is making a foray into REITs this summer. Its REIT will be the first such structure in Saudi Arabia.

Will investors bite? That's another question. Property prices are down quite a bit now in the region, which might translate into a reluctance to take risks, especially on new property-linked products. Still, Encore expects to raise a billion riyals ($266.7m). All of that will presumably have to come from local investors, given the tight restrictions on foreign property ownership in the Kingdom.