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Wed 25 Mar 2009 02:59 PM

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Cityscape Abu Dhabi expects 20,000 fewer visitors

EXCLUSIVE: Organisers of 2009 property show admit sharp downturn in sector will hit numbers.

The organisers of international property conference Cityscape in Abu Dhabi expect up to 20,000 fewer visitors at next month's show compared to last year, a sign of caution among investors who have been hit by the global downturn.

IIR Exhibitions, which specialises in everything from conferences, seminars and training for businesses, said the take-up among exhibitors for the massive real estate event in Abu Dhabi in April had been surprisingly strong given the current climate, but that the overall number of visitors could be well down on 2008.

“We are being a bit more conservative this year with the numbers. People are tightening their belts,” Mark Goodchild, event director for Cityscape Abu Dhabi told Arabian Business on Wednesday.

“We are hoping for 30,000 this year, where we had nearly 50,000 last year. We don’t think there will be as much foot fall, but we are certainly hoping that the quality of visitor will be on a par with last year; we just had a massive increase of foot fall simply because of the climate and real estate excitement that was around last May,” he added.

Despite the projected lower number of visitors for the event, he said exhibitor space was 31 percent up on last year, with the number of pre-registered visitors also 22 percent more than this time 12 months ago.

“A lot of institutional investors are looking at this area, where other potential areas have dried up. They are looking east, to the Middle East and Far East. This is the first stop of the real estate exhibition calendar,” he said.

Cityscape Dubai in October would also certainly be impacted due to the current climate and a number of people were ‘re-aligning their budgets’, he explained, while remaining upbeat about the turn-out for the event.

“It’s going to be slower of course. A lot of people at the moment are waiting and seeing,” Goodchild said.

“Everyone is taking their time, people are realigning their major budgets. They need to tie the bottom line up so they are realigning the marketing around the event and realigning how much they are going to spend,” he added.

“The sentiment is positive, it’s just in the current climate, things have slowed down when it comes to financial commitment.”

Some of Abu Dhabi’s biggest real estate companies will exhibit at Cityscape next month including developers Aldar and Sorouh as well as investment groups Mubadala and Al Qudra.

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