By Tamara Walid and Andrew Mernin
Investors flocked to the Abu Dhabi event last week - and the organisers say it's only going to get bigger.
With US$164bn worth of real estate projects set to be launched in Abu Dhabi in the next five years, thousands of investors flocked to the UAE capital's Cityscape event last week vying to get a piece of the action. And, with the dust barely settled on the huge exhibition - which showcased Abu Dhabi-based projects worth over US$270bn - its organisers have predicted the event could be almost twice as big next year.
"We are expecting 30 to 40% growth just from our feedback so far but we would like to get a 50% growth on it with visitor numbers for 2008, maybe touching 20,000," Mark Goodchild, project manager of Cityscape Abu Dhabi told
"I think it's got fantastic potential for the next three to five years, after that we'll have to evaluate how the market is doing and really refocus and have a wider look at what the situation is in the real estate industry within the UAE, GCC and internationally," he added.
According to Goodchild, the inaugural Cityscape Abu Dhabi event - which displayed US$400bn of projects worldwide - attracted a "fantastic response from European and the US" investors looking to set up in the GCC.
One of the largest local property developers looking to cash-in on the 25,000 sq m exhibition is Al Qudra Real Estate, a subsidiary of Al Qudra Holding.
The group used the event to launch the first phase of the Ain Al Emarat project, a wholly sustainable community set in Al Ain, UAE.
"This is the first year for Cityscape to be organised in Abu Dhabi after being held for five years in Dubai, which reflects the enormous real estate boom that is taking place in our capital city," said Salah Salem Bin Omeir Al Shamsi, chairman and managing director of Al Qudra Holding.
Luxury Real Estate Development made its Cityscape debut by showcasing its first project, Mangrove Place, a waterside residential development located on Reem Island - a 68 million sq ft, man-made island off the coast of Abu Dhabi city.
Following the recent trend of green buildings in the region, Hydra Properties launched its eco-friendly Hydra Village project set for Abu Dhabi that boasts its own water conservation and green programmes as well as recycling points.
Meanwhile, speaking at the conference on the sidelines of the exhibition, Falah Mohammed Al Ahbabi, associate director of urban planning at the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi, unveiled the government's future strategy for the emirate. Eager to point out that measured growth reflecting a sustainable economy would be key to the strategy, he said: "Abu Dhabi needs to grow and it will grow, but our future will not be held hostage to uncontrolled expansion." Al Ahbabi also pointed out that foreign direct investment would be essential to the capital's urban development plans over the next 20 years. An estimated 12,000 people, including 200 exhibitors from 50 different companies, attended last week's three-day Cityscape event.