“To Ilidza, please.”
“Ahh, you mean to Kuwait City,” said Sarajevo taxi driver Mustafa through laughter.
“I do not like what they are doing. No one does not control then. When tomorrow something happens in BiH, they will blame the people. Now politicians are letting them do whatever they want. Do not get me wrong. I am a Muslim and I have nothing against Arabs who come, but someone must control them,” says Mustafa, not hiding his disappointment that the BH authorities allow a large influx of Arabs in BiH to buy properties without any control.
“I am accordionist. One evening I was playing accordion with my friends in one cafe in Sarajevo and we were having fun. Then came a man with a beard, from somewhere in Arabia, who does not even know my language, and told me in English that it is a sin to play the accordion and to sing.
“The room was full, and no one said a word. And he came to me to teach me what I should and what I should not do,” complained Mustafa.
As we approached Ilidza, we really had the impression that we are coming in Kuwait City, as Mustafa already said. A lot of advertisements and posters were written in Arabic.
“Here, look at this! Now you know what I’m saying. This is Kuwait, not Sarajevo,” said Mustafa while pointing to a large building in the construction that was full of ads for rental in Arabic in front of which stood a small group of Arabs, probably thinking about renting or buying.
Sajeda Kader, director of the agency “JoPetra”, who sells real estate and travel arrangements, said that “Bosnians became a minority.”
Kader emphasized that Ilidza is interesting because it is close to Vrelo Bosne, land is cheaper than in Sarajevo, and all the natural beauties can be found in Ilidza.
“What is maybe most important, there was a lot of Serbs in Ilidza who had land or houses and sold them very cheaply to the Arabs, especially on Vrelo Bosne where is the residence of the Kuwaiti ambassador as well as his private villa,” said Kader.
According to her, everything started 7 years ago when the Arabs started coming as tourists and when they spread the idea that the BiH is a Muslim country in the heart of Europe, which is cheap, after which inflow was increasing each year.
She said that at first Kuwaitis started to come, because they do not require a visa, and after them, the Arabs from the Emirates and Bahrain.
“At the beginning, individuals started to buy land with a price of 1 BAM per m2, and from 5 to 10 BAM in the city center, and now the price was increased to 120 BAM,” explained Kader.
She emphasizes that there is around 140 companies engaged in real estate in Ilidza, and the owners are mostly Kuwaitis who came 5 five years ago.
In order for a stranger to buy a property in BiH, he/she should have registered company which costs him about 5,000 BAM, with lawyer and all transactions included, and on that basis can buy a real estate.
Kuwaitis, Emirates and others are owners of 60 % of these companies, while 40 % of the owners are BiH citizens who studied in Arab countries, as well as Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians.
Arabs are buying the land in Trnovo, Luzani, Otes, Pazaric, Hadzici, and there are also those interested in the land in Visoko, Travnik, Bihac, and even Banja Luka. Kader claimed that among the Arabs who are coming to Ilidza and in BiH, there is about 20 % of radical Islamists.
“Although the state is taking care of that, I believe that those kind of people are coming without any control. The worse thing is that people are looking at that as a positive thing,” said Kader.