Dubai's Damac signs Iraq joint venture deal

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Dubai-based Damac Properties said on Saturday it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Al Fao General Engineering Company, a unit of the Iraqi Ministry of Housing and Construction, to further develop projects in Iraq.

The agreement establishes a joint venture company between Damac and Al Fao to begin development of the Ministry of Housing and Construction sites in the country, a statement said.

The deal comes less than five weeks after Damac agreed a MoU directly with the Iraqi Ministry of Housing and Construction during Cityscape Global 2012 in Dubai, to develop a number of projects in Baghdad and the surrounding region.

"This agreement formalises our relationship with the Iraqi government and is the first step in developing projects in Iraq," said Ziad El Chaar, managing director, Damac Properties.

"The joint venture with Al Fao General Engineering brings together two industry experts enabling the swift development of the country."

During Cityscape Global last month, the Iraqi Minister of Housing and Construction, Mohammad Al Darraji, said $10.4bn worth of construction and infrastructure projects are expected to be approved next year and the ministry has 65 projects worth $3bn with 60,000 units already under construction.

Damac already owns two plots of land in Baghdad. The company is currently working on concepts and designs for these areas from its offices in Baghdad, and will introduce them in the near future, the statement added.

The company currently has projects under development in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon.

"We are certainly looking to expand from our base at the moment and if the right opportunities to bring added value are presented we will look closely at them. It is our goal to become one of the leading luxury developers in the world, not only the Middle East," added El Chaar.

Work on the Ministry of Housing and Construction projects are expected to begin early next year after a full assessment of the land and development mix has been completed.

Damac Properties has completed 37 buildings to date with 7,817 units and has a further 65 buildings at various stages of progress across the Middle East and North Africa region.

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