By Tom Arnold
Abu Dhabi developer eyeing projects in Algeria, looking to move into commodities, CEO says.
Abu Dhabi developer Al-Qudra achieved sales of $100 million in two days at Cityscape despite concerns over the impact the worsening global financial crisis was having on local real estate markets, its CEO said on Tuesday.
Mahmood Al-Mahmood said Al-Qudra, which is involved in $7 billion of projects in the UAE and abroad, had sold 300 villas in its project Ain Al Fayda, with 80 percent of the buyers set to be end users.
Al-Mahmood said although the credit squeeze was impacting on Dubai, the property market remained strong.
“Liquidity has dropped a bit but not that it has dropped completely,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of Cityscape.
“If you look at the banks they were giving 90 to 95 percent finance on some mortgages and now they are giving 80 to 85 percent. The business is there, but the rates are higher.”
He said internationally it was not subject to the same problems other developers are facing from a shortage of liquidity as it has adjusted some of its projects to provide more mid-range and social housing schemes.
Al-Mahmood said there was an availability of funding from the government for projects it was embarking on in Algeria because there was a 2.3 million shortage of residential housing in the country.
Al-Qudra had started discussions with the Algerian government to provide high-end housing for 1,500 people in a nine-hectare project in Sidi Frej, with the firm at the first stage of a 15-hectare social housing development in Algeria for 10,000 families, he said.
It is also involved in mixed-use developments in Minsk, Belarus, and a resort called Moulay Bousselham in Morocco.
Its domestic projects include Ain Al Fayda and Al Nasseem in Al Ain, Manarah Bay near Abu Dhabi International Airport, Shades in Shams Abu Dhabi on Al Reem Island, and Desert Star in Mohammed Bin Zayed City.
Al-Mahmood said to fund future projects it would consider either raising funding through the debt market, an initial public offering or securing funding through government programmes.
Al-Mahmood said the company was also moving into agricultural production, with plans to secure sufficient land in Belarus, Egypt and Sudan by the end of the year to produce olives, corn, rice and sugar. He said its planned agricultural output was more than 100,000 tonnes of crops a year.
The company is already involved in a project in the UAE producing organic vegetables in greenhouses.
“The potential is there for other projects but we have to be patient as agriculture is not a project that produces results all year round,” said Al-Mahmood.