Commercial banks saw strong growth in housing loans last year despite a slowdown in the real estate sector, which could have a knock-on effect and threaten the growth of the country’s services. According to a Ministry of Economy and Finance report released late last month, the biggest effect is predicted to be on the real estate sector. This will probably see an 8.2 percent growth, compared with 9.5 percent last year. Acleda, one of the kingdom’s leading banks, saw housing loans grow by about 18.8 percent to about $211.3 million last year, up from about $177.8 million in 2015. The bank’s total number of borrowers in 2016 was 8,780 from 7,500 in 2015, said Acleda vice-president So Phonnary.