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Sat 18 Jul 2009 04:00 AM

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It’s you. No it’s you.

The issue of transparency is crucial for the region’s property sector, says Conrad Egbert.

It’s you. No it’s you.

My team and I made an investment this week. Not a financial one, but an investment of time. We invested a lot of time in getting to the bottom of the somewhat bizarre row over the ownership of Dubai-based developer Casamia Star FZE.

We are all too aware that banks are struggling with bad debt, investor’s are struggling for cash, developers are struggling for finance, and contractors are struggling for payment. With all this struggling going on, it’s surprising that so many parties are finding the time to point the finger. But there is, without doubt, more than a little finger-pointing going on across the industry.

The Casamia Star FZE row is a somewhat strange twist to what has become an alarmingly common story.

Renderings were drawn up, money was collected, pledges were made, but somewhere along the line, when the financial crisis hit and the rivers of credit ran dry, somebody forgot to start building the tower.

Then, when the investors started getting organised, the same people charged with building the tower found themselves at the end of some straightforward, but rather uncomfortable, questions.

During the boom years, there were arguments over ownership of property developers, with many people lining up for a piece of the pie. It is sadly indicative of the financial crisis that now we have two parties rowing over Casamia Star FZE, with each claiming that the other owns it.

In such cases, it all comes down to one word: Transparency. I do not assume to tell others how to run their business. Many have tried to tell me how to edit Construction Week, but I don’t necessarily do as they say. The issue of transparency, however, is a no-brainer.

It is important in the current climate, even more so than during the boom years, for the region to promote itself on the global stage as a safe place for investment. No investment can be a guaranteed success, this we know. But firms must conduct business in a manner that makes investors feel secure, and proves to them that their money is being managed, and not mismanaged.

The investment of time and effort that my team and I made this week has paid off, in that, it has raised the awareness of many people with an interest in Casamia Star, financial or otherwise.

A little more transparency on many people’s part may go someway to ensuring that those who have put money into the region’s property sector see their investments pay off in a similar manner.

Which is not just good for the investor, but good for the construction industry, and good for the GCC.

Conrad Egbert is the editor of Construction Week.

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nofer 11 years ago

What a vague story.