Emaar and Sobha forced to close stands at Cityscape Jeddah

Officials thought to have taped off the Dubai developers’ stands to prevent them from striking any off-plan deals with Saudi investors
Emaar and Sobha forced to close stands at Cityscape Jeddah
The closed Sobha stand at Cityscape Jeddah. Picture: Twitter.
By Sarah Townsend
Wed 08 Apr 2015 05:52 PM

Dubai developers Emaar Properties and Sobha were ordered to take down their stands at this week’s Cityscape Jeddah exhibition in Saudi Arabia.

It is thought officials from Saudi Arabia’s Department of Trade and Commerce taped off the Dubai developers’ stands to prevent them from striking any off-plan deals with Saudi investors.

No direct sales are permitted to take place at the exhibition under strict rules laid down by its organisers NEC. Developers are only allowed to promote and showcase their schemes.

Visitors to the event tweeted pictures of Sobha and Emaar’s stands fenced off with red and white tape and plastered with official notices.

In one picture, Sobha’s stand can be seen advertising its Hartland residential scheme in Downtown Dubai. 

The two developers have been contacted for comment.

A spokesperson for Cityscape Jeddah told Arabian Business the Saudi event organisers were working with officials to understand why the decision to close the stands was taken.

The spokesperson said: “We can confirm that a small number of GCC-based exhibitors received a request from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to close their exhibition stand during the recent Jeddah Urban Development and Real Estate Investment Event - Cityscape Jeddah.

“Despite this unfortunate incident, Cityscape Jeddah witnessed a highly successful edition with a 10 percent growth in visitor numbers.

“The Saudi organisers are working closely with authorities in an attempt to understand the rationale behind this unexpected and unprecedented request.”

A source reportedly told Gulf News: “On the first day, the Saudi authorities sent out officials in plain clothes to determine whether any of the developers were selling… they could not find any instance of that.

“On the second day, they came in officially and ordered the closure of the biggest Dubai-based developer’s stand. Official notices were put up there in front of everybody and it was humiliating.

“The Saudi authorities had a clause — imposed for the first time at this year’s event — that one cannot ‘promote’ off-plan properties without prior approval from them.

The frustrated source added: “Dubai’s developers and other exhibitors were not selling and [were] following the regulations to the letter.

“It’s inexplicable as to why this happened. It’s the first time in six years of the Jeddah event that something like this has happened.”

The closed Emaar stand at Cityscape Jeddah. Picture via Twitter.

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