Thai tower developers in Dubai to lure investors

MahaNakhon mixed-use project set to become landmark feature of Bangkok’s business district

The developers behind a skyscraper that will become Thailand’s tallest building have travelled to Dubai in a bid to lure wealthy Arabs more accustomed to investing in groundbreaking projects.

The 314-metre MahaNakhon mixed-use development is expected to become a landmark feature of Bangkok’s business district, including a 150-room hotel operated by Marriott International and 194 apartments by The Ritz-Carlton Residences.

Dubai businessman and multi-millionaire Asgar Patel, founder and chairman of House of Patel Group, already has bought two penthouses and at least five other apartments.

One of the penthouses is worth AED59.3m ($16.25m) and will have views across the entire city to the Gulf of Thailand.

Patel also now has the rights to exclusively market the $630m development in the Middle East. Pace Developments, which is part-way through constructing the building, is in Dubai for three days to attract investment in the futuristic project.

MahaNakhon, which means ‘great metropolis’ in Thai, will have the appearance of a glass curtain – a walled square tower with a cuboid-surfaced spiral, sculpted into the side of the building. Some apartments will include “sky boxes” that jut out of the façade to provide the illusion of walking on air.

An adjoining seven-storey retail complex would house famous brands such as Vogue Club, Dean & DeLuca and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and was due to open this year, while the conservatory deck would be one of, if not the, tallest in the world, chief marketing officer Kipsan Beck said.

More than half of the apartments already have been sold, mostly to investors from Singapore and Hong Kong.

“We’ve already achieved a fair amount of success with sales and construction; coming to the Middle East will put us to the next level,” Beck said.

“For us in Thailand, 314 metres seems extremely high, but I have a sense that when we come to Dubai it’s not so special.”

Beck said the development also was attractive because, unlike in Dubai, investors needed to pay only 35 percent of the total value by the time of hand-over.

Pace Development CEO Sorapoj Techakraisri said there was significant and rising demand for high-end residences in Asia from the Middle East.

“Potential buyers in the Middle East are very familiar with The Ritz-Carlton brand and know that it promises property that will be to the highest standards [and] Thailand’s stock market, currency and economy are performing very strongly, so we believe that high-end residential demand will continue to increase by the time MahaNakhon is completed in 2015,” Sorapoj said.

Thailand is the second largest economy in South East Asia and is growing at more than 5 percent, which is only slightly less than India.

It is also expected to greatly benefit from the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community - a free trade zone of ten countries and 600 million people – which is due to start in 2015.

Patel, who owns masses of land in India as well as interests in New York, London and Dubai, said he chose to invest in Thailand after selling his stake in the Wall St Exchange to the Dubai government.

He went on “a world tour” last year and found Thailand had better property prices and investment environment than other cities including Singapore, Hong Kong and London.

"Thailand's economy expanded rapidly in the fourth quarter of the last financial year, with the government reporting GDP growth of 18.9 per cent compared to the previous year," said Patel, whose firm has interests in real estate, financial services, transport and logistics.

"Besides, Thailand has a large middle class population who are gaining wealth that will support future developments. A road is proposed from Calcutta through Burma into Thailand and when ASEAN is formed, Thailand would be the heart of Asia.

“So it is logical to invest in this growing economy."

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