By Staff writer
Experts believe this year’s real estate property exhibition to be the biggest ever, as more overseas developers come in full force to join in. Alexandra Dubsky reports.
Despite industry voices warning that the property markets might collapse in similar fashion to the equity markets in the Gulf, the real estate sector in the region is booming - and with it the annual property fair Cityscape is gaining more and more international recognition.
At last year’s Cityscape, real estate projects worth US$27bn were announced and Director Rohan Marwaha of IIR Middle East believes that the figures will even be surpassed this year.
“Cityscape Dubai 2006 will undoubtedly trump last year’s figures. Not only is Cityscape the largest in the world, it is the fastest growing and the most diverse - with up to 85 countries being represented. The event can now legitimately claim to be the world’s biggest business to business event in the property investment and development sector, since we will now exceed the likes of MIPIM in Cannes and Expo Real in Munich after adding almost one and a half times to last year’s exhibition space,” said Marwaha.
Regional developers Emaar, Nakheel, Tanmiyat, Aldar, Tameer and Saraya Holdings have signed up as sponsors, among others.
But since the brand Dubai is positioning itself ever more to an overseas audience, various developers from abroad that seek for Middle Eastern investors have this year come on board. The City of Hamburg, Paris Region, City of Rome, City of Warsaw, Moscow City Government, Ontario in Canada, Singapore and Australia amongst others are all keen to exhibit.
Yvonne Iversen, investor relations officer at Hafen City Hamburg, summarized the hopes of European exhibitors. “Cityscape Dubai brings our project to a wider audience. Investor relations between European countries and Dubai have improved considerably over the last few years. We are designing a ‘living city’, with buildings occupied as they are built. What we don’t need are investors constructing large structures without end-users in speculative ventures.”
Fast-growing China will be another key focus of the event. Zheng Xiaoping, partner of Shanghai-based BAZO Investments said, “China is experiencing the largest urbanization in history. With over 800 new cities to be developed by 2020, China will create an investment climate that Middle East investors simply cannot ignore,” Xiaoping said.
Besides new overseas participants regional developers are gathering to present their portfolios at the event.
Saudi Arabian companies accounted for more than 25% of last year’s newly announced projects. Developer Al Hanoo, for example, sold half of the US$5bn Nujoom Islands development project within a few hours of the opening ceremony. Among the Saudi exhibitors are the Tanmiyat Group, Dar Al Arkan, Al Hanoo Holding, Saudi Oger, Jiwar, SNASCO, Diyar and Najed, Al Suwadani and others.
Every year, international speakers will give presentations as well as workshops devoted to specific industry issues. Donald Trump Junior will be speaking at the event for the first time. Manal Shaheen, general manager, VIP Sales at Nakheel, said: “Cityscape is a very important exhibition for the property industry. It’s a good opportunity for us to showcase our latest projects. Cityscape is also a good opportunity for investors and end-buyers to see where the market is going. Also you can’t meet such a large number of people in an office during working hours.”
Last year the show saw 281 exhibitors from 29 different countries, 23,552 industry professionals participating in from 85 countries with 626 conference delegates and speakers.
Launched in 2005 by parent company Al Masa Holdings, Omniyat aims to combine information technology, real estate and property development in order to provide hi-tech and futuristic projects in the Middle East.
So far, Omniyat Properties has launched and sold four commercial and one residential projects, with a value of US$737m in last year’s operations.
Omniyat is planning to announce upcoming developments at this year’s Cityscape. One announcement will be a move into residential property development.
The first two commercial projects are launched together early in 2006. One Business Bay and Bayswater are now under construction within Dubai Business Bay - the new business centre at the Dubai Creek.
One Business Bay is a US$138m, 30-storey tower. It will offer Grade A office space in what is considered the prime location of the development. “One Business Bay is the first building you see as you enter the bay. It’s actually plot number one,” said Mehdi Amjad, President and CEO of Omniyat Properties.
The building is designed by German architects Kling Consult. Almasa Holdings itself has bought three floors for its corporate headquarters.
Omniyat’s second project, Bayswater, is a US$94m, 25-storey office tower located on a water-facing plot in Business Bay. Construction of Bayswater began in May of this year, and is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2008. It is a mid-market segment targeted at medium-sized companies that need a premium address and office location, but at a lower price than Grade-A offices. The building is designed by Dubai-based architects Dubarch.
The third project is the US$150m The Binary Tower, which conjoins a 21 and a 25-storey tower, and will be completed in the first quarter of 2009. It has been designed as a self-contained building with a range of recreational and relaxation facilities where the staff does not need to step outside except to leave their office to go home at the end of the day.
“The UAE now provides the perfect seed bed for companies such as Omniyat and Almasa that can be nurtured and grown into what Dubai has become today - and more importantly what it will become in the future,” Amjad said.
Tameer was established in 1991 engaging in miscellaneous business activities. In 2002 the establishment decided to concentrate solely on the real estate sector shortly before forming a strategic partnership with the Al-Rajhi Investment Group. Today, the firm’s investment portfolio in the market is worth more than US$10.9bn.
At this year’s Cityscape the developer will announce the launch of their “Imperial Residence” in Jumeirah Village.
The US$136m project, spread over one million sq ft will include 569 residential units in a variety of studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments. It will also include a twin tower structure that comprises 28 floors and rises from a four-storey podium. The project comes with amenities like swimming pools, gyms, saunas, jacuzzis, a children’s day care nursery and twenty-four hour shops.
Located in the Jumeirah Village, the project will feature 2000 villas and townhouses and will be situated between Sheikh Zayed Road and Emirates Road.
“This project adds to our ever widening portfolio of state-of-the-art developments, and follows the presentation of our Elite Residence and the Palace Tower earlier this year; two buildings of similar design and stature,” said Ali Al Khudairi, CEO of Tameer Holding.
Tameer’s most upscale development, the Elite Residence, offers one and two-bedroom apartments, three and four-bedroom penthouses and a villa, and will be situated at the Dubai Marina. The project is to be completed in November 2009.
Tameer will also exhibit the 500,000 people community named Al Salam City at this year’s Cityscape, and will be located close to Sharjah and the Dubai International Airport. The development consists of apartments, townhouses and luxury villas with facilities including schools, hospitals, parks, gymnasiums, and recreational and cultural centres. It is set to be completed in March 2009.
Also on display will be the 32 floor-commercial Regal Tower at Business Bay, scheduled for completion in late September 2008. Besides the 41-building Al Ameera Village located off the Emirates Road in Ajman, it features houses, hotel apartments, shopping malls, and commercial outlets. The project is scheduled for completion in April 2008.
“Tameer have always been, and will continue to be committed to delivering to the Middle East designs that defy convention and deliver on both domestic and business comfort - and our developments reflect this commitment,” Al Khudairi said.
Jordan-based Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC), in cooperation with the Jordanian Social Security Corporation (SSC) and the Arab Bank, are set to launch the country’s flagship development - Saraya Aqaba, a US$1bn mixed-use project on the northern tip of the Red Sea. The venture will feature luxury hotels, a water park, residential units, a convention centre, business facilities, health spas, beach clubs and a high-end retail offering, all built around a man-made lagoon.
Located at Jordan’s marine city, the development will be designed as an ancient Arabic city, with an old souk alongside a range of entertainment and dining venues. Residences feature interiors designed by KCA International Interior Designs.
The developer has teamed up with Starwood and Jumeirah and to provide hotel accommodation, each of them will be operating three 5-star hotels.
Contractor for Saraya Aqaba is Saudi Oger, and Dubai-based real estate agent Asteco will act as the sole sales manager for the residential component of Saraya Aqaba. The Arab Bank will offer financing for residents.
Ali Kolaghassi, vice chairman and CEO of Saraya said: “We have selected an excellent location and chosen strong partners to help us develop a unique world-class resort which will become a premiere destination for business people, visitors and residents alike.”
Kuwait-based Alargan, established in 1994, now manages US$795m worth of real estate assets throughout the GCC. Its projects include residential housing, commercial leisure and tourism. Besides up-scale developments the firm offers lower to middle income housing in the region. Alargan has offices in Dubai, Oman, Bahrain, Riyadh, Beirut and Cairo.
“This is the second time we participate at the show. Our motivation is that we are one of the leading companies in Kuwait, and with our successful expansion in the region we need to be present at such a huge event like Cityscape,” said Niveen Salem, marketing manager, Alargan International.
Alargan’s model developments include Kuwait’s largest hotel, the US$39.8m Al Bidaa project consisting of a key hotel and apartments that stretches along 200 metres on a private beach. Soft opening of the hotel was in September 2006.
The firm also launched the Kuwait Free Trade Zone Business Park, a US$10.4m project with 11,634 sq m of office space, to be completed in July 2007, besides the US$37.3m mixed-use project Saar Gate in Bahrain, scheduled for completion in February 2009.
In Oman, Alargan is involved in two residential projects: The US$11.1m Al Hail Villas, which consist of 100 villas that are set to be completed in December 2007, and the US$16.6m Al Qurm Gardens, with 40 villas that are scheduled for completion in November 2008.
In the future the developer plans to launch a US$346m mixed-use development in the Sultanate, that will feature residential houses, hotels, apartments, office spaces, a marina, shopping centres and schools. This project is set to be finished in November 2010.
“Our mission is to expand efficiently and profitably to become the leading real estate developer and service provider in the region. Our primary focus will remain to provide housing solutions with unique designs that compliment and enhance the surrounding environment. We will continue to form long-term strategic partnerships to enable us to enter new markets with confidence,” Salem stated.
ETA-Star is the real estate arm of the UAE-based contracting firm ETA-Ascon. The company is part of the Al Ghurair Group.
At present, ETA-Star is promoting properties in the Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lake Towers, DIFC and Palm Jumeirah to name a few, besides other leasehold properties in Dubai.
“We have a fairly large stall this Cityscape, and we are doing something unique. We have launched a new concept called the “Star Investor” which is all about providing potential investors with all they need to make the right property investment,” said Shyam Sunder, marketing manager at ETA-Star.
“Under the concept, the best of our properties will be on display at the best locations, price, finance and expertise. We have also roped in leading industry experts to conduct daily seminars at our stall. All in all, it's a value-added concept to benefit the investor to the maximum,” he said.
Most of ETA-Star’s projects are apartment towers, such as its first project, The Belvedere, a six-storey residential development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments located at the Dubai Marina.
The Palladium, located at the Jumeirah Lake Towers next to the Dubai Metals and Commodities Centre (DMCC), is another 34 storey high-rise apartment complex. The Goldcrest Executive unit, located within the Jumeirah Lake Towers, is an offices and residential apartments block. It is equipped with a rooftop swimming pool, a health club, gym, sauna, steam bath and jacuzzi.
At the Business Bay, ETA-Star is developing Al Manara, which features 31 office and commercial complexes. The tower also has a fully serviced business centre, conference and auditorium facilities and a leisure deck combining a health spa and swimming pool. The tower has been designed by the Singaporean firm Architects 61.
The developer is also building the first free zone in the region dedicated to media production activities. Located on the Emirates Road, The International Media Production Zone (IMPZ) provides a business environment and a complete technology and community infrastructure to support and foster the growth of media production.
Tapping into the hospitality sector, ETA-Star launched the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Palm Jumeirah Dubai - a five-star hotel complex. The Grandeur Residences, a luxury residential complex that will comprise 200 fully furnished one, two and three-bedroom apartments, including ten beachfront villas, will be operated by the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Palm Jumeirah Dubai.
The ETA-Ascon Group also runs a separate hospitality and retail division, and a subsidy that oversees its international real estate operations.
Established in October 1999 in the Kingdom of Bahrain as an Islamic investment bank, Gulf Finance House (GFH) has a paid-up capital of US$212m and an authorized capital of US$300m. The GFH will be participating through its real estate investment arm at Cityscape 2006.
It currently develops the US$1bn Al Areen development in Bahrain, and it is involved with the US$3.8bn leisure and tourism project called the Legends in Dubailand. GFH also develops the US$1.4bn Bahrain Financial Harbour.
The Al Areen development will spread over an area of two million sq m and will be marketed as a friendly destination for family and health-oriented tourists. The development is a 35-minute drive from the Bahrain International Airport, 25 minutes away from the city centre of Manama and 20 minutes away from King Fahad causeway.
Major components of the development include the Banyan Tree Desert Spa and Resort, the “Lost Paradise of Dilmun” water park, themed luxury hotels, residential and commercial villages, with entertainment and recreational facilities.
Legends is a mixed-use leisure, entertainment, residential and commercial real estate concept, strategically located within the Dubailand project. The development will have three themed hotels, apartment hotels as well as residential and commercial towers, in addition to a golf hotel.
GFH Investment Bank will be showcasing all its major projects and key investments including the Bahrain Financial Harbour and Al Areen Development in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Legends in Dubailand, Energy City in Qatar, Royal Metropolis in Jordan and the “Gateway in Morocco” project.
“Over the years, Cityscape has emerged as the Middle East’s leading property exhibition, providing realty sector players with a platform to both showcase their projects and do quality business. Having successfully participated in last year’s event where we did quite a few key deals, participation in this year’s event is a given. Apart from making a few substantial announcements at the event, we are confident of significantly enhancing our deal flow through Cityscape this year,” a GFH spokesperson stated.
“Having met all our business objectives, we were extremely satisfied with the outcome of our participation at Cityscape 2005,” he added.