The Life: The Canadian city of Mississauga has become a popular destination for Arabs in search of property investments as they emigrate from the Gulf.
Canadian home away from home for Gulf Arabs
A Canadian city has become a popular destination for Arabs who are in search of property investments as they plan to immigrate westwards after an extended stint in the Arabian Gulf.
Mississauga, dubbed the "Dearborn of Canada", has enjoyed a property boom bonanza in recent years, as Arab expats look to start afresh after the global financial crisis slowed GCC economies.
With a population of more than 20,000 Arabs, a select number of nearby grocers that offer halal meat and Lebanon's popular Patchi chocolate store located in Square One mall, the city has become a home away from home for many.
Absolute World, commonly nicknamed as the Marilyn Monroe building for its curvaceous hourglass figure resembling the famed actress, is among the recent residential condominiums introduced to the city's downtown area, nearby Hurontario Street and Burnhamthorpe Road.
Hanan Al Hassani, a Canadian realtor of Iraqi origins, says the Monroe building has become a welcoming symbol for new residents seeking familiarity with Dubai's skyscrapers and a desire to maintain their Gulf lifestyles.
Once a year, Ms Al Hassani travels to the Emirates and the wider region to introduce herself to prospective immigrants who appear to be good candidates for property investment.
Once they arrive, the realtorpicks them up from Toronto Pearson International Airport, assists with paperwork and organises a rental suite before she tours with the family around the city to help them look for a property.
Affluent investors are ready to spend US$800,000 (Dh2.9 million) to $1m on Mississauga Road, the city's most expensive street, which is lined with luxury properties, she says.
"Gulf investors are used to the bigger houses in nice areas," says Ms Al Hassani. "Many of them are quite educated and well versed with the areas they seek to reside in. "They will say they want their kids to attend a certain school and ask me to locate a property in the vicinity."
But Mississauga's demographic has changed immensely from its native origins.
The city dates back to the 1600s, when the Credit River Valley area was populated with Algonquin Indians. The word Mississauga comes from the word "Misi-Zaagiing", meaning "Those at the Great River Mouth".