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Pakistan's property boom is here, but is it here forever?

Everyone in Karachi believes that the safest and most lucrative investment is in the real estate sector these days since it provides the best returns with much less risk and effort.

That is why, every other day, housing schemes are being launched. It means that the property boom is here. But is it here forever? That’s the million-dollar question.

These positive sentiments about real estate are not completely ill-founded. They are based on their past track record. People who bought land 20 years ago have multiplied their investment and it is a human tendency to believe that things would turn out as they have happened in the past.

 

But this is a dangerous route to reason. According to this reasoning, a chicken, which is well fed by its keepers, must believe that it would never go under the knife, based on the past benevolent behaviour of the keepers.

We all know the inherent fallacy in the chicken’s reasoning. So, shall we continue to believe in the glorious past or is it time to take a step back and ponder?

What the people of Karachi believe today is exactly the same notion that the whole of Wall Street believed till 2007. They also believed that property prices cannot go down. Hence, we witnessed the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States which was an unprecedented financial debacle.

Two prominent investors – Nassim Nicholas Taleb and George Soros – made enormous money in those times. Taleb included black swans (events with very low probability of occurrence but very high impact), such as property price decline, in his financial models. On the other hand, Soros was saved because he used to bet against himself as well.

Barring the two unusual players on the Wall Street, everyone believed that property prices could not go down. So, to crack this puzzle of property investment, one must take the unconventional and the unusual route.

People with conventional wisdom always say that prices in metropolitan cities are much higher than prices in Karachi. Hence, there is further room for appreciation.

These people compare the prices of Karachi with Shanghai, Mumbai, Singapore and Dubai and observe that prices in Karachi are still much lower. So, let us compare some statistics of Karachi with these cities.

It is true that per square metre prices in Karachi ($760.78) are much lower than average per square metre prices ($8,824.60) in the metropolitans.

However, we must realise that the fundamental value of a real estate investment is largely influenced by its rental value. Rent-to-price ratio in Karachi (0.54) is lower than the ratio of Dubai (0.83) only. Shanghai, Mumbai and Singapore have much lower rent-to-price ratios than Karachi.

This means that, on average, rents in Karachi have already peaked as a return on investment relative to other big cities. Furthermore, people in Karachi are already paying much more rent in comparison to their salaries.

Rent-to-salary ratio of Karachi (1.30) is only lower than the ratio of Mumbai (2.07) and Shanghai (1.88). Dubai and Singapore have lower rent-to-salary ratios.

This means that, on average, people in Karachi are paying too much rent in comparison to their income when compared with other big cities.

The only plausible reason for such high prices in Karachi is the burial of illicit money in the property market. Furthermore, tax avoidance also makes property investment a lucrative strategy.

 

A few changes in regulations (filer/non-filer issue) have been tried to curb the above two avenues. Otherwise, as per the rental yield analysis, fundamentals of property investment in Karachi seem very weak.

We all know deep down in our hearts that these prices can’t go up forever. Yet, the herd mentality, marketing noise and the fear of losing a big investment opportunity compels us to believe otherwise. But it is time to hold our horses and take a step back to ponder Taleb and Soros.

 

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Overseas Pakistanis buying property in droves, but there’s a preference change

KARACHI: 

 

A slowdown in Pakistan’s property market has not deterred overseas loyalists from pouring cash back home, but their taste preference has undergone a massive change.

There is no denying that real estate has proved to be one of the safest, most profitable avenues for investment in recent times. With the law and order situation improving significantly in the last few years, developers have now once again picked up the shovel to dig deeper in Pakistan’s most profitable sector.

But the change in recent times has been the buyers’ preference for a smaller amount of land.

“Overseas Pakistanis who have always been interested in buying residential plots in trustworthy housing schemes are now also taking an interest in apartments, especially in big cities,” Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan (ABAD) Chairman Mohsin Sheikhani told The Express Tribune in an interview.

 

Before 2014, the percentage of overseas buyers in a high-rise project in Karachi was not more than 5%-7%, However, this percentage is now easily over 25%, and sometimes reaches over 30%, said Sheikhani, who believes the single most important factor that pulls overseas investors towards real estate in Pakistan, especially Karachi, is the marked improvement in security situation since 2014.

With residential plots’ registering at least a 25% increase in prices year-on-year, overseas Pakistanis are finding it easier and cheaper to find apartments – a ready, set and go option for people moving back home.

While the new rates of capital gains tax held back the growth in real estate prices, a recovery was seen in the first half of calendar year 2017.

In addition, growing political challenges for Muslims after Donald Trump became president of the US and Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) have also contributed in convincing many overseas Pakistanis to make an early decision of having a second home in the country, he said.

Real estate dealers say most overseas investors still prefer to buy land in leading housing schemes like Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and Bahria Town due to the secure nature of the investment. But the percentage of those who buy apartments has increased, and faster, in recent years.

Karachi, which attracts most investments in high-rise buildings, leads the list with over 300 ongoing projects while Islamabad and Lahore have over 150 high-rise buildings that are under construction, according to ABAD estimates.

Hurdles to investment, issues for high-rise buildings

However, currently, a Supreme Court verdict prohibits the approval of any new high-rise project in Karachi due to the shortage of water in the city. Property dealers have been criticising the stance of Karachi Water and Sewage Board (KWSB) that moved court to slap a ban on new high-rise projects due to its inability to provide enough connections.

Earlier, the federal government had slapped a ban on new gas connections to high-rise buildings in 2011. The ban was eventually lifted in 2016 after the country started importing LNG, but the situation itself was enough to damage investor confidence.

Overseas Pakistanis send $16 billion in remittances, up 5.25%

“At present, over 300 projects in Karachi are facing a delay due to the Supreme Court’s ban on new water connections,” said Sheikhani. “This is discouraging builders as well as investors.”

The government needs to provide basic utilities because builders and developers can pay taxes but they cannot play the role of the government. Any ban on the use of basic utilities, whether it is water or gas, is tantamount to supporting illegal housing, which is already becoming a menace in big cities, he added.

According to a World Bank study of 2009, there was a shortage of 7.5 million housing units in Pakistan, which increases by 0.35 million housing units every year. If the World Bank’s estimates are to be believed, there must be a housing shortage of at least 10.3 million units in 2017.

“Pakistani institutions are not planning for future needs. With a growing backlog of houses due to low supplies, we are heading towards a disaster,” Sheikhani warned.

Reference: https://goo.gl/bX3mmH

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Pakistan's real estate divide

The year 2016 was forecasted to be an extremely promising one for Pakistan’s real estate industry, and with good reason.

In 2015, investment in residential property (apartments, houses and vacant plots) increased by five to seven percent, while in commercial property (including standalone shops, showrooms, retail and office space), there was an increase of 15 to 20% across Pakistan, despite the levy of Capital Gains Tax, Capital Value Tax and Stamp Duties in the Federal Budget 2014-2015. Industry experts were confident that investment would continue to increase in 2016 because of increased investor interest and consumer confidence in the property market, an improved security situation, as well as the Government’s enabling policies for the sector.

The Federal Budget 2015-16 brought much needed tax relief to the sector. The minimum tax builders were required to pay for the construction and sale of residential buildings was suspended; bricks and crushed stone (crucial building materials) were given a sales tax exemption until June 30, 2018, and Customs Duty on the import of construction machinery was reduced to 10% (source: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), 2016).

By all projections, Pakistan’s real estate market – on the back of increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), CPEC infrastructure projects (Read our story CPEC’s real estate opportunity on page 16) and a robust demand for housing – was expected to reach new heights in 2016.

However, this positive outlook took a turn for the worse with the announcement of the Federal Budget 2016-17 in June, 2016. Property taxes were increased and the outdated District Commissioner (DC) rates for property valuation were replaced by the FBR determined market values for documentation and taxation purposes (Read our story Taxing real estate in Pakistan on page 12).

The increased taxes, changes in the property valuation mechanism and consumer demographics have many implications for the industry. However, to understand them fully, it is essential to step back and understand the complex dynamics of this industry.

Market dynamics

Since residential and commercial properties are not documented at their current market values in Pakistan, it is an impossible undertaking to determine the worth of the real estate sector. However, FBR released data and industry surveys estimate that the industry is worth around $700 billion (source: Lamudi Real Estate Market Report Pakistan 2015). Real estate and construction, together, account for approximately two percent of Pakistan’s total GDP. Not only does it generate a high level of direct employment, the sector also stimulates demand in more than 250 ancillary sectors, including cement, steel, paint, brick, building materials and consumer durables, to name a few.

A unique aspect of Pakistan’s real estate market is that the industry hits record highs and lows within a span of a few years. Elsewhere in the world (barring the 2005 sub-prime mortgage crisis), the real estate industry more or less follows a steady growth rate (five to eight percent per annum is the average). In Pakistan, however, when bullish trends are witnessed in the market, monthly growth rates of more than 10% are recorded, which are unprecedented. This was the case post 9/11, when FDI by expatriates increased, and again, between 2011 until the announcement of the Federal Budget 2016-17.

Mohammad Shafi Jakvani, Vice Chairman, The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Standing Committee on Real Estate Research and Image Building, explains this market dynamic by saying that “real estate is traded as a commodity in Pakistan; speculative investors buy property in bulk, and then sell it later at an exorbitant profit.”

The reason why investment was taking place for short-term gains was because the sector was not regulated or taxed until 2014. The Government maintained a ‘no questions asked’ policy about the source of the capital coming in, and for decades the sector remained the ideal spot to park black money. This led to the creation of a property bubble with artificial price hikes and a widening supply-demand gap in the housing sector. The situation has been further aggravated by the fact that Pakistan is the most urbanised nation in South Asia. If rural to urban migration continues at the existing rate, urban population is expected to reach 95.62 million by 2025, taking the urbanisation level to an unprecedented 53.3%.

Akhlaq Ahmed, MD, Manhill Advertising (the in-house advertising agency of Star Marketing, a real estate marketing company), points out that “since the metropolitan trio comprising Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad is reaching saturation levels in terms of land availability for new projects, an increasing number of builders and developers have shifted their focus on creating vertical urban clusters in the city centres, and sprawling gated communities at the outskirts.”

He also highlights increasing investor interest in the smaller cities such as Bhurban, Gujranwala, Multan, Sargodha, Sheikhupura and Taxila, where organised residential communities have cropped up in the last three to four years, completely redefining their landscape.

When asked if there was any truth in the prevalent perception that real estate projects in second-tier cities are not profitable and are almost always plagued by limited customer demand, Jakvani and Ahmed emphatically declare that this assumption was not grounded in facts at all.

“The concept of gated housing societies has really taken off in these cities and there is great demand for them,” Jakvani points out. Ahmed adds that “there is great affluence and buying power in the smaller cities thanks to a flourishing agrarian economy, and whenever such projects are announced, they are booked almost instantaneously.”

Mohsin Sheikhani, Chairman, Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan (Read Sheikhani’s interview on page 32), believes that increasing smartphone and internet penetration in Pakistan has made homeowners far more aware of international real estate trends and have influenced their expectations. It is these changing consumer lifestyle preferences that have paved the way for high-rise luxury apartments and villas within gated communities and mixed-use developments across Pakistan.

Luxury living

The trend of buying luxury apartments has increased by nearly seven to nine percent in Pakistan in the last decade, primarily due to an increasing demand for secure, well-maintained housing units; it is therefore not surprising that between 2010 and 2016, apartment prices increased by 120%, while houses registered a much slower increase, at 80% (source: Pakistan Economic Survey, 2016).

Traditionally, apartment projects were mostly limited to Karachi, as cultural preferences in Lahore and Islamabad were for horizontal residential projects. However, with the rapid urban sprawl, cities have become congested, land prices are going up, and the apartment living trend is swiftly gaining traction in these cities as well. In fact, in the last five years alone, the demand for apartments has gone up by nearly 30%, which has given rise to an increasing number of newly constructed high-rise luxury apartments in Lahore and Islamabad.

Ahmed mentions that initially, these projects were limited to the city outskirts such as the Raiwind and Multan Roads (in Lahore) and the new Islamabad Airport (near Fateh Jang in the Attock District). However, recently, development work has started on fully serviced apartment projects in residential hotspots such as Gulberg and the Canal Road (in Lahore), as well as Jinnah Avenue and Bahria Enclave (in Islamabad). Karachi’s skyline has also been undergoing noticeable changes. In neighbourhoods that were traditionally home to the city’s well-heeled, such as Nazimabad, Federal B. Area, P.E.C.H.S., Clifton, and several phases of DHA, sprawling mansions have given way to condo-style apartments.

Jabir Hussain Dada, SEVP & Head of Business Unit, Dolmen Real Estate Management, attributes this shift to the fact that “people want convenient access to quality amenities, their favourite restaurants and recreational avenues, without compromising on location.”

This is perhaps why multi-purpose buildings, offering a mix of residential (serviced apartments) and commercial (standalone shops, office suites and shopping malls) units are being developed. Dada classifies Harbour Front as possibly the first mixed-use project in Pakistan, comprising Dolmen Mall Clifton as well as a dedicated office wing which was leased out to the leading MNCs in Pakistan. Since then, mixed-use projects have come up in Islamabad (Centaurus Residencia Towers, Margalla Vista, Diamond Mall & Residencia and Royal Mall & Residency), Faisalabad (Lyallpur Galleria) and Lahore (Pace Circle operated by Hyatt Lahore).

Ahmed concurs with Dada on this changing demand by Pakistani home buyers. “The first question, before going ahead with the booking, is always about the down payment and monthly instalments. However, what it comes down to is how central and secure the location is, the average daily commute to the city centre (where most offices are located), the amenities on offer, and particularly, if there is a union responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the project.”

There is considerable evidence to support these observations. Creek Vista Apartments (Phase VIII, DHA, Karachi), Saima Presidency (Malir Cantonment, Karachi), Al-Khaleej Towers (the first-of-its-kind luxury apartment project in Federal B. Area, Karachi), Springs Apartment Homes (Canal Bank, Lahore), and Veranda Residence (Sector E-11, Islamabad) are some of the projects that generated considerable buzz in the market for introducing the concept of high-rise luxury living in Pakistan. Most luxury apartments have a covered area ranging between 2,400 and 3,000 square feet, with price tags of Rs 38 to 65 million or more.

To take advantage of this rising demand for luxury living, the Dolmen Group will soon be launching fully serviced hotel apartments as well as a ‘green’ apartment project in Karachi in the forthcoming years. Dada is of the opinion that the success of these projects is contingent on convincing buyers “that downsizing their lifestyle, by choosing an apartment over a traditional house, doesn’t have to mean compromised living.”

Surely enough, the glossy promotional brochures of such projects, not to mention, the TVCs, print advertisements, billboards, and scaled project models showcased in on-site offices, leave no stone unturned to convey a sense of luxury and exclusivity. The design elements typically highlighted are round-the-clock security, backup generators, cinemas, food courts, reserved parking, swimming pools, indoor gymnasiums, day care centres, community halls, play areas, and even garden patios and kitchen backyards.

Clearly, gated housing communities are an important trend that cannot be ignored. Industry experts estimate that between 2015 and 2016 alone, investment in these schemes increased by 15 to 20%, and almost 15 such projects were completed within the last two years. Offering privacy, prestige and protection, gated communities have taken off in a big way in Lahore, Faisalabad, Islamabad and Rawalpindi, where the presence of a sizeable and affluent business community has triggered the development of villas within gated communities. Prices for these luxury homes range from Rs 2.8 million (for schemes located in the outskirts) to Rs 33 million (for those developed along major thoroughfares at the heart of the city). The target audience in this case, Ahmed believes, are “the more conservative industrialist families for whom living in apartments, no matter how luxurious, is still an alien concept.” This trend is expected to grow in the central (Punjab) and northern (FATA districts) regions of the country, particularly with development work being resumed by Emaar Pakistan on Canyon Views in Islamabad, in what is expected to be the most luxurious, well-planned and expansive villas.

This is not to say that gated communities have not taken root in Karachi. Bahria Town, DHA City, Fazaia Housing Scheme and Naya Nazimabad and the are some of the most sought-after residential communities in the city. However, Jakvani points out that these schemes are mostly being developed along Karachi’s periphery, since there is insufficient land available in the already over-crowded city centre.

A question of affordability

The picture, however, is not all rosy as the discussion so far would lead you to believe. Despite such a booming real estate sector (ignoring the temporary slump that rocked the market post the Budget announcement last year), Pakistan has a housing backlog of almost 12 million units (source: ABAD’s Real Estate Research, 2016). Even more startling is that for an industry that had been registering double-digit growth since 2010, with new residential projects announced almost weekly, more than 50% of the urban population lives in slums and squatter settlements (katchi abadis), that lack the most basic utilities such as clean drinking water, sanitation and electricity.

A research conducted by Ansaar Management Company (AMC) – a social enterprise that has been working since 2008 to provide affordable housing to low-income families – helps put things in perspective. Only one percent of the housing units developed annually cater to 68% of Pakistan’s total population, comprising people who earn a maximum monthly income of Rs 30,000. On the other hand, almost 56% of housing units target 12% of the population, comprising individuals with a monthly income of Rs 100,000 and above.

Given these statistics, the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) assessment that the affordable house price to income ratio is 20:1 in Pakistan (compared to a global average of 5:1), should not raise any eyebrows. The first question that pops into one’s mind almost immediately is what steps has the Government taken to address this issue? Over the years, many announcements of Government-sponsored low-cost housing projects have made headlines. These include the Apna Ghar Scheme in Punjab, the Behan Benazir Basti (Benazir Housing Program) and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Housing Scheme in Sindh, and similar programmes in other parts of the country.

Unfortunately, as has been the case for most public sector housing initiatives, none have been completed.

Sheikhani is optimistic that ABAD will be able to complete a low-cost housing project in Karachi soon; Paragon City has expressed an intention of developing Ashiana Apartments (budget apartments) on Burki Road, Lahore; and, there are other social welfare organisations, such as AMC, doing their bit to bring stymie the almost viral growth of katchi abadis. However, until the underlying problem is addressed effectively, blue and white collar workers have no realistic chance of owning a home.

Ahmed succinctly, yet comprehensively, summarises the root cause: “Home mortgages, the principle on which the global real estate industry operates, is a non-existent concept in Pakistan; home financing offered by commercial banks is largely limited to high-net income earners, and the House Building Finance Corporation hardly gives out loans anymore.”

Financial analysts and economic experts might argue that the situation is gradually improving. Mortgage rates are currently between 15 to 18%, the lowest that they have been in the last decade and the SBP has established a dedicated Infrastructure and Housing Finance Department to strengthen the market-based housing finance mechanism. However, an internet search reveals that mortgage rates are still significantly higher compared to other countries in the region: Hong Kong (2.15%), Japan (2.7%), China (7-8%) and India (8-12%).

There is a unanimous agreement among builders, developers and real estate agents that until affordable home financing options are developed and provided to the general public, the housing supply-demand gulf will continue increasing. Sheikhani sums up the debate by stating that “even after the market recovers from the current slump, investment inflows resume and real estate deals are hatched by the dozen every day, the ‘divide’ between the affluent and the underprivileged class will remain very real, and continue to widen in the forthcoming years.”

Editorial

In this issue we explore the dynamics of Pakistan’s real estate sector and the housing segment in particular. Real estate reportedly accounts for two percent of Pakistan’s GDP and more importantly, is a major source of employment both directly and through the associated industries upon which it depends. Yet, it is also a sector that until recently has been severely undocumented, and one upon whose fortunes Pakistan’s population is dependent for its well-being. In terms of housing, three significant trends are apparent.

Firstly, until 2014 the real estate sector was, for all intents and purposes, unregulated, therefore undocumented and consequently out of the tax net. Quite a feat for a sector estimated to be worth in the region of $700 billion! A feat that largely explains the dynamics behind the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ that have characterised this sector. Due to its undocumented nature, real estate is traded as a commodity, with speculators buying in bulk during the lows and selling at exorbitantly high prices later. In fact, Pakistan is probably among the few countries in the world where real estate offers a ROI of over 100%.

However, changes are afoot and since 2014 the Government has embarked on an attempt to regularise the sector. In 2014, the Federal Budget introduced various taxes on property and in 2016 a Finance Act came into being aimed at aligning property valuations with market prices. Until then property transactions were carried out on a dual calculation method, whereby the price of a property was officially declared at what is known as the DC (District Commissioner) rate, but actually sold at the current market rate, the monetary differential being transacted ‘off the books’. Under the Finance Act, all property was to be valued and documented as per the prevailing market rate. However, subsequent to the passing of this Act, opposition arose among all real estate stakeholders, who were faced with added taxes on top of the increase in the value of documented property. As a result, the volume of property transactions slumped by almost 85%. The Government was forced to backtrack and introduce a tax amnesty and promise a more gradual transition in aligning DC rates to open market rates. As matters now stand, the Federal Bureau of Revenue has declared that the tax amnesty will come under review in 2017 and that it intends to eventually impose a single price for property. How matters will pan out is anyone’s guess, but the point is that attempts to streamline and bring transparency to a sector, which has been allowed to transact under the radar for far too long, are underway.

Secondly, real estate is an important growth sector in Pakistan – and despite the recent glitches that have arisen as a result of government intervention, a period of further sustained growth is on the cards. The problem is that this growth is restricted to the upper end of the market, with the emphasis on gated communities and high-rise luxury living (or what passes for it). Given Pakistan’s security issues, it is understandable that the number one concern of most citizens is safety, which gated communities are perhaps better equipped to offer. Added to this are maintenance concerns and the prospect of living spaces that allow for easy access and convenience. However, gated communities are a dangerous trend, as they accentuate even more starkly the divide between the affluent, the average and the severely underprivileged. The medium and long-term societal implications should be a source of concern. Yet, between 2015 and 2016, investment in such schemes has gone up by 15 to 20%.

Thirdly, despite the construction activity taking place across Pakistan, with second tier cities jumping on the high-rise luxury living bandwagon, the fact is that only one percent of the housing developed every year caters to 68% of the population; put another way, 56% of the housing targets 12% of the population. This is a truly terrible situation. At current estimates there is a demand-supply gap of close to 12 million housing units. This is not only contributing to the viral growth of katchi abadis, it is putting an unbearable strain on people earning average salaries, given that the current development in housing units are targeting people with monthly earnings above Rs 100,000.

There can be no doubt that there is a huge demand for housing across Pakistan; the problem is that the profits generated from building low-cost or even average housing pale in comparison to projects that target high-end residential ownership. Builders and developers are running businesses and they cannot be blamed for taking care of their bottom line. It is, in fact, the Government that needs to take a realistic view of how to initiate and successfully complete low-cost or even average housing projects. Periodically such projects are announced but rare are those that reach completion and of the few that do, they have either been built to such substandard levels and without any understanding of the requirements of the people they are destined for, and are consequently uninhabitable, or even worse, they have been allowed to be co-opted for purposes other than housing. Perhaps a more effective way would be to initiate multiple public private partnership programmes on the one hand, and on the other to create an environment conducive to lending and mortgages. The Government has done well in initiating the process of documentation and transparency, but there is a long, long way to go before Pakistan’s real estate sector can work for the benefit of all and not just a few Pakistanis.

-- Mariam Ali Baig

For feedback, email aurora@dawn.com

Reference: http://aurora.dawn.com/news/1141727

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Top Five Man Made Wonders

1. BurjKhalifa

Currently the tallest building in the world, the BurjKhalifa soars over the desert landscape of Dubai and is a testament to humanity’s quest for greatness. BurjKhalifa will eventually be replaced by another structure and that one will eventually be overshadowed as well because humanity is always striving to outdo what has been done before.

4. Hubble Telescope

The Hubble telescope served as our eye into the wider universe for over a decade and gave us a view of things that we only dreamed of.  Its ability to take pictures of distant planets and other parts of the cosmos gave us a wider understanding of how the universe works and what we need to do to explore it further.

3. The Pyramids

No list of man made wonders is complete without mention of the Pyramids. While these ancient structures are cliché in a way, there is no denying that they stand as a testament to an ancient civilization that has been gone for a long time. Inside all of us is the desire to leave our mark, and the pyramids will remain as a mark long after many other monuments have fallen.

2. International Space Station

Since humankind first looked up at the stars, there have been those who have dreamed of living out among those lights.  The International Space Station was one step toward that dream. Not only is the space station a testament to our technology, but it’s also a testament to our ability to work together towards a common goal. While the space station only houses a few people, it is hoped that eventually this will lead to true human settlement on distant worlds.

1. Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is the single largest man made structure on the planet today and is likely to remain so for quite a long time. The Great Wall is large enough that it can actually be seen from space and is so massive that nothing short of the entire planet exploding will cause its destruction. The Great Wall of China should serve as a reminder to us all that humankind can accomplish truly great things and that while one man may have ordered its construction, it took hundreds of thousands of people to build it.

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Five Most Haunted Places in the World

1. Changi Beach, Singapore

Changi Beach served as a ground for the Japanese during the Sook Ching battle of The Second World War. Thousands of Chinese died during this Operation as they were suspected of being anti-Japanese. Strange crying and screaming are reported by people.

2. Ohio University,  Athens, America

Ohio University is known in state folklore as the most haunted college campus. A large number of places on campus are said to be haunted, and numerous other popular tales are told about the university across Athens county. The British Society for Psychical Research claims that Athens, Ohio, is one of the most haunted places in the world. The five cemetaries that form a pentagram that surrounds the campus, with the administrative building being in the center of the devil’s sign. The catacombs of Jefferson Hall, where numerous ghost sightings have occurred. And finally, for The Ridges, an abandoned insane asylum that was known for thousands of labotamies and electro shock treatments.

3. Screaming Tunnel, Niagara Falls, Ontario

The haunting of the Screaming Tunnel is one of Niagara Falls’ most enduring legends. Located off Warner Road, the tunnel runs under the railway tracks that link Niagara Falls to Toronto and New York City. According to local legend, if you stand in the middle of the dark tunnel at midnight and light a match, the flame will go out and a girl’s screams will be heard.

4. Bhangarh Fort, India

Bhangarh Fort is on way from Jaipur to Alwar in Rajasthan, India. According to a legend, Singhia, a black magic tantrik cursed the palace so that everybody’s souls will stay there for centuries without rebirth. Another interesting point is, all the houses in this area are without roofs because whenever a house is built with roof, the roof collapses. This is the called most haunting place in India. People who visit this place experience anxiety and restlessness. It is said that nobody returns from this place that stays there after dark. Government prohibited this area from staying after sunset. You will find a board installed by Archaeological Survey of India displaying “Staying after sunset is strictly prohibited in this area”.

5. Highgate Cemetery, North London, England

By night, Highgate Cemetery is like something out of a horror movie. Eerie crooked gravestones, headless angles covered in ivy, dark overgrown passages between the tombs, it’s no wonder this is Britain’s number-one ghost spot.