Malaysia My Second Home Programme Gaining Popularity Among Arabs
 
By Khalid Chtaibi Abu Hiba / BERNAMA.COM - 2008-7-14
 
 
KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 - The Malaysia My Second Home Programme (MMH2H) is gaining popularity among the Arabs with 31 applications from Saudi Arabia approved for the programme so far.
 

Tourism Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng said that from feedback there were also 12 Iranians and one Arab participant who have bought residential properties in Malaysia.

 
The Arab countries have been increasingly becoming an important market for Malaysia, he told Bernama in an interview here Monday.
 
"We have seen positive growth in tourism arrivals from the region over the past few years and in this regard, we have positioned Malaysia as a value-for- money tourist destination catering to the various preferences of our tourists.
 
"Their memorable and pleasant stay in Malaysia would generate their interest to make Malaysia their second home," he said.
 
Dr Ong explained that the ministry, via Tourism Malaysia offices in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia are promoting niche products including the MM2H programme to the Arabs.
 
He said sales missions in Arab countries were conducted and Tourism Malaysia also participated in tourism-related exhibitions such as the Arabian Travel Mart (ATM) and local exhibitions.
 

"This is done through participation of Malaysian companies. Besides that, we also produce brochures and website for this programme in Arabic," he said when asked about the ministry's role in attracting foreigners especially the Arabs to the MM2H programme.

 
In describing the programme, he said the MM2H is essentially a long-stay programme for foreigners under which successful participants would be issued multiple-entry social visit passes for 10 years with an option for renewal.
 
"As such, we also work with selected partners, for example, health providers, educational institutions and real estate partners, to cater to their needs so that our participants would feel comfortable living in Malaysia," Dr Ong said.
 

He said that since the Malaysian government relaxed its regulations on residential property purchase in April last year under which foreigners could buy properties costing a minimum of RM250,000, there had been a growing interest in Malaysia's real estate sector.

 

Asked what were some of the popular housing locations among the Arab community and what they looked for before buying the houses, Dr Ong said most of the programme participants, including the Arabs, preferred to stay in the cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

 

They also preferred condominiums and bungalows and usually stay in residential areas that are easily accessible, with good infrastructures and amenities, near international schools and have high rate of return or rental if the property purchased was for investment purposes, he said.

 
Asked how many Arab participants involved in the programme are residents in Malaysia and how many are from overseas, he said although he did not have the statistics, "we are certain they have been to Malaysia at least once before deciding to make Malaysia their second home."
 

"Some of them used to work in Malaysia, have friends who are Malaysians and relatives or friends who have visited Malaysia," he said.

 

On why they chose Malaysia as their second home, Dr Ong said the factors included the warm and pleasant weather all-year-round, good quality of life, affordability, safe and peaceful environment, friendly people and the good range of accommodation.

 

"We acknowledge that the Arab market has high potential to attract participants for this programme. As such, the added attraction for Arab participants is that Malaysia being an Islamic country is well-placed to cater to their special needs and preferences.

 

"However, we always welcome feedback and suggestions to further improve this programme," he said.

 

He also said Malaysia was gaining prominence in the long-stay market, with recognition from the media and long-stay associations like International living.com magazine which ranked Malaysia as the 7th global retirement destination in its 2007 survey, the first time that an Asian country has been ranked as such.

 

Meanwhile, the Japan Long-Stay Foundation in 2007 ranked Malaysia as the top long-haul destination for the Japanese, Dr Ong added.

 
Incentives offered for the programme can be accessed from www.motour.gov.my, which provides updates from time to time.
 
 
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