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Sun 8 Apr 2007 12:00 AM

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Emaar Properties: building the future

Each week Arabian Business turns the spotlight on one of the region's leading companies.

So what does this company do?

Everything! Most people think of Emaar as the world's second biggest property developer, but thanks to its Vision 2010 programme, it has moved into retail, leisure, hospitality, health, education and finance. It has even teamed up with Giorgio Armani to manage 10 Armani hotels and resorts across the world.

Which is its biggest sector?

Property is still the kingmaker, with projects not just in the UAE, but also in India, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Syria, Pakistan, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, and Europe.

Go on then, name some projects I might have heard of...

How long have you got? The iconic Burj Dubai, soon to be the world's tallest building? Or the amazing US$30bn Economic City in Saudi Arabia. Or how about the stunning Dubai Marina?

How much is the company worth, then?

A very tasty US$18.4bn, no less.

So how much are its shares worth?

I was hoping you wouldn't ask. Right now, they're at about US$3 a share. They were twice that over a year ago.

Really? What's gone wrong?

Nothing. It's just that the whole market is down. Then again, some shareholders were unhappy about the size of their 20% dividend payments.

Are they still a good investment, then?

Absolutely - most experts see their real value at over US$7. However, when that will happen is anyone's guess.

What about the rest of the figures?

As good as it gets. Its 2006 profits were US$1.735bn, compared to US$1.288bn the previous year. That's a 35% jump! Meanwhile, revenues shot up 68% to US$2.276bn.

So who's the boss?

HE Mohamed bin Ali Alabbar, one of the Middle East's leading business figures.

I've heard of him. What else does he do?

A lot. He's chairman of the Dubai Economic Development Council, and has his hands in several other ventures. He was also voted the Arab world's second most powerful man in
Arabian Business

last month. Many people credit him personally for the success of Emaar, and he has a very hands-on style.

Why is everyone taking about Emaar these days?

Probably because Dubai Holding, part of the Dubai government, has just taken a majority stake in the company in return for land. It means the Dubai government now owns Emaar.

Is that a good thing?

The deal for land - in a prime part of Dubai - means there is likely to be another mega-project on the way soon. That's more than likely a good thing - and what's more, most experts think that it will give the shares a lift. In the long-term nobody doubts that Emaar's prospects are good, and this deal will probably only make them better.

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