Several houses under construction in Sarajevo’s suburban area of Blazuj. / AFP / ELVIS BARUKCIC
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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.In 2010 Bosnia began phasing out visas for nationals of most Gulf countries and the number of tourists from the region has since steadily increased to 24,500 out of 360,000 visitors to the Sarajevo area last year, according to official figures.At the October opening of the Sarajevo resort, a 25 million euro ($27 million) Kuwaiti investment, local schoolchildren waved the flags of both Bosnia and Kuwait as Bosnian Muslim political leader Bakir Izetbegovic hailed the country's rivers and greenery.About 20 kilometers away in Blazuj village, another residential area is being built by the Kuwaiti company Al-Diyar, which sold almost all of its luxury apartments in advance to Gulf nationals.During and after Bosnia's 1992-95 war, Gulf countries offered humanitarian aid and financed the reconstruction of homes and mosques, often accompanied by stricter interpretations of Islam, such as Saudi Wahabism.
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