By Martin Morris
Real estate event running through April 22 set to be 30% bigger, despite global economic downturn.
With the global economic slowdown dampening enthusiasm for short-term speculative property investment, Cityscape Abu Dhabi, which opens Sunday, is going back to its roots, say organisers IIR Exhibitions.Despite the downturn, however, the real estate event of the year for the capital of the UAE will be more than 30% bigger than in 2008 in terms of exhibition space with virtually all major developers taking part, according to news agency WAM.
Cityscape Abu Dhabi runs until Wednesday April 22 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and brings together investors, architects, designers, developers, government authorities and key decision makers involved in the design and construction of public and private real estate developments.
"This year we have nine halls plus the atrium, which is more than 40,000 square metres of exhibition space," said Mark Goodchild, Exhibition Director for Cityscape Abu Dhabi.
"That is almost 10,000 square metres more than 2008. In addition the event has the support and sponsorship of some of the region's biggest real estate players as well as the government of Abu Dhabi."
A change in the profile of visitors compared with last year is expected by IIR Exhibitions. "Demand for real estate was at its peak during last year's event and speculators and amateur investors were eager to capitalise on short term premiums," Goodchild added.
"That situation will not prevail this year and we expect the show to return to its real roots and by that we mean professional private and institutional investors looking at mid to long term opportunities.
"This is a reflection of the fact that while the global property development industry is facing challenges, Abu Dhabi is still moving ahead with infrastructure and project developments as well as taking a global lead in sustainable development."
An example will be the unveiling at Cityscape by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council of the massive Capital District project. Once completed, the 4,500-hectare Capital District will serve as a government and economic centre.
It is planned as a sustainable, mixed-use city for 370,000 residents as well as major universities, hospitals and knowledge-based employment sectors, federal buildings, embassies and international institutions.
Running alongside the exhibition is the Real Estate Finance and Investment Conference, featuring more than 100 speakers from the world's leading finance, investment and real estate companies. The conference will be a forum for in-depth discussion of current market challenges.
Real estate development and architectural companies at the forefront of the industry will be recognised at the Cityscape Middle East Real Estate Awards, sponsored by Etisalat, RAK Ceramics, Gaggenau and 2ig.
Entries will be judged on their contribution to world architecture culture, innovation and imagination, respect for people, the planet, context, environmental awareness and appropriateness throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Given vast amount of negative press that developers are getting I would be surprised if much is sold without huge changes to the pricing and payment structures. If companies cannot base their payments on staged performance, escrow accounts and reasonable penalty clauses to both parties then Abu Dhabi Citiscape does not have a hope. Companies like Hydra Properties, so often reported in an unflattering light, have done untold damage to the whole industry