Dubai property exhibit rakes in billions

Cityscape Dubai 2006, the largest business to business international real estate platform in the world, broke all records even before the official opening with a staggering US$160bn worth of real estate projects announced in the three weeks prior to the event. This meant a sevenfold increase on the US$21.5bn announced before Cityscape 2005.

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By  Melissa Hancock Published  December 10, 2006

Cityscape Dubai 2006, the largest business to business international real estate platform in the world, broke all records even before the official opening with a staggering US$160bn worth of real estate projects announced in the three weeks prior to the event. This meant a sevenfold increase on the US$21.5bn announced before Cityscape 2005. Rohan Marwaha, group director, Cityscape was not surprised by the multi-billion dollar flurry of launch activity in the run-up to the event. “It gives developers two bites of the apple. They get exposure when they unveil the project and then have the best opportunity in the industry to discuss it with a prime audience during Cityscape Dubai itself," he said. The most notable projects unveiled in the run-up to Cityscape Dubai included a US$40bn master-planned community on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi by Aldar Properties, Emaar MGF’s partnership with hotel chain Accor to build 100 Formula 1 budget hotels in India in a US$300m investment and Sama Dubai’s spectacular US$18bn Dubai Towers project. The three-day exhibition, which ran until December 6th, involved 500 exhibitors from 55 countries showcasing projects over an exhibition area of 55,000 sq.m, making it the largest in the event’s five year history. Emaar, one of the world’s largest real estate companies, showcased its extensive international project portfolio with a development value of more than US$60bn. A quarter of its stand was set aside exclusively to highlight King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia, the largest ever project in the Middle East developed by Emaar the Economic City. “The 168 million sq m King Abdullah Economic City signals a strategic move by Emaar from being a strict property developer to a full-spectrum city provider,” said Nidal Jamjoom, CEO of Emaar the Economic City. When asked if the growing involvement of Dubai-based real estate companies in international markets such as Saudi Arabia and further afield in North America, Europe and Asia, indicated a slowing down in the UAE real estate sector, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, who inaugurated the event at Dubai International Exhibition Centre (DIEC), said: “Absolutely not. The decision for local big name companies to launch projects around the world reflects the strength of these companies and indicates just how robust the UAE property sector is.” Indeed, GulfTalent.com, a Dubai-based online recruitment company covering the Middle East, released a report the week before Cityscape entitled ‘Dubai’s appeal continues despite rising costs’, showing that despite spiralling living costs in the UAE, the Emirates remains the most popular Gulf destination for expatriates. The report showed that rents in the UAE had risen 60% over the last two years, while saving rates in the UAE are now the lowest in the region with 43% of expatriates reporting zero or negative saving rates. However, 73% of expatriates moving into the Gulf today said they preferred the UAE, while 62% of those relocating within the region also chose the Emirates. “Dubai is still just a baby. Research suggests that only around 20% of long-term residents own their own homes so there is still much room for growth in the property market,” said Daniel Watson, a surveyor at Cluttons, a leading chartered surveyors and property consultants firm in the UK that have had a strong presence in the Middle East since 1976. One of the most celebrated projects at Cityscape this year was Cayan Investment and Development’s Infinity Tower which is being built at Dubai Marina at a cost of US$190.5m. Infinity Tower recently won the award for best architecture in the world at the International Property Awards in London after taking four gongs at the inaugural Arabian Property Awards in Dubai. The 80-storey building will stand at 330 metres, the highest twisting tower in the world. “The projects are absolutely mind-blowing this year,” said Frank Moran, sales consultant at Cluttons, “Anybody who’s anybody in property in the Middle East and beyond has got to visit Cityscape.” It was estimated that the event attracted a record attendance of 35,000 participants from 90 countries, smashing last year’s record of 23,000. Marwaha, added: “US$27.5bn worth of transactions took place on site last year and that’s an audited figure. Cityscape 2006 has been even more successful. I'm already looking forward to next year.”

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