Business Bay development set to take shape in Dubai

THE ANNOUNCEMENT of Business Bay late last year was a clear sign that there is still space for more major developments in Dubai. Construction Week spoke to Hashim Al Dabal, chief executive officer of Dubai Properties, about the project.

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By  Colin Foreman Published  January 29, 2005

Business Bay development set to take shape in Dubai|~|57 Vis A Vis Body.jpg|~||~|THE ANNOUNCEMENT of Business Bay late last year was a clear sign that there is still space for more major developments in Dubai. Construction Week spoke to Hashim Al Dabal, chief executive officer of Dubai Properties, about the project. Apart from Business Bay, what are the most important projects handled by Dubai Properties? Dubai Properties, one of the Dubai Holding entities, is well known for the realisation of major projects such as the AED5.2 billion Jumeirah Beach Residence project, the first of its kind in the Middle East. The project features a prestigious ‘self-contained community’ comprising residential, office and hotel towers, shopping malls and other state of the art facilities. Some say that Business Bay will merely be another property project in Dubai. How do you respond to that? We are used to hearing such false assumptions with every new initiative that is launched. However, once the strategic dimensions of a project and the role it will play in maintaining the leading position of the UAE become obvious, these doubts quickly fade away. People are getting used to the idea that we can dream and are able to transform our visions into hard reality. I am happy to state that Business Bay received a tremendous positive response since the day it was announced by His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Minister of Defence. The response was similar to that received by other large projects such as Jebel Ali Port, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Dubailand. Business Bay will not only encourage huge investments from within the UAE and outside, but will also boost the importance of the UAE as a leading global centre for business, commerce and tourism. In line with the government strategy to enhance the local economy and revitalise investments, the project is set to be a leading centre for business and shopping, similar to some of the well known centres like New York’s Manhattan or Tokyo’s Ginza. Like them, it will act as a base for many leading local, regional and international firms. How involved is the government of Dubai in this project? As is the case with all the initiatives that were launched over the past few years, the government of Dubai continues to and will develop basic infrastructure of leading edge projects. It will then offer the projects to the private sector -- to local, regional and international firms -- to make the best of the investment opportunities provided by projects such as Business Bay. What are your expectations with regard to the size of the investments the project is set to attract? Although the initial total investment size for Business Bay was calculated to be worth between AED20-30 billion, the actual size may well exceed these numbers going by the response to the first phase. As you know, we received commitments of more than AED4 billion in just a matter of hours from domestic and foreign investors. What are your total cost estimates for the basic infrastructure of Business Bay? The total cost of development and management will run into billions of dirhams. As you may be aware, Business Bay will have some complex features and elements such as the extension and widening of the famous Dubai Creek, and ensuring the smooth flow of water as well as preserving the natural environment. You must understand that Business Bay will be developed over an area of more than 6.4 million m². To develop an area as large as that -- not to mention the inclusion of state of the art facilities comparable with the best in the world -- requires massive input. What are the reasons behind opening the project to private investors instead of handing it over to the government of Dubai or to Dubai Properties? The tremendous success that the UAE has achieved is based on the cooperation between the private and the government sectors as well as the government’s dedication to creating an ideal environment for investments and allowing the private sector to make the best of the opportunities provided. Hence the directives of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid to give priority to private sector investors to benefit from the opportunities provided by Business Bay. I would like to clarify that the role of Dubai Properties will not be limited to supervising the implementation of Business Bay, as it will also handle the execution of many elements within the project which are as yet to be announced. What are the basic elements of the Business Bay? The project will be more like a city within a city. It will feature several business and residential towers, landscaped gardens, shopping malls, hotels and many other facilities. Being the first project of its kind in the Middle East, Business Bay will build a new capital for business and commerce in which many leading local, regional and international firms will be based. Overlooking the magnificent view of the Creek means the Business Bay will have many beautiful canals and gardens to create an aesthetic appeal. The fact that it is located on a premium site, where available land is severely limited, makes it highly valuable and exclusive as a must-have address. Because land was limited along Dubai’s famous Creek, the vision was to go beyond the current space and extend and widen it several kilometres from Ras Al Khor to almost reach Sheikh Zayed Road. Now that sales for Phase 1 have been announced, when is Phase 2 expected to be opened? Currently, Dubai Properties is in the process of finalising plans for Phase 2. These are to be announced soon and ahead of schedule, as we are encouraged to speed up the development due to the enormous positive response that Phase 1 achieved. The response surpassed all our expectations; all the plots and spaces for towers were completely sold out within the day. What are the factors behind this massive demand? Apart from its ideal location -- which is attracting huge investments -- the project reflects the trust of investors from the UAE and from outside, in the future of the country’s economy and its ever-increasing reputation in the world. These investors are confident enough that the government is dedicated to providing an ideal environment for business. When will work on the basic infrastructure begin? We are working very hard on completing various details related to the basic infrastructure of the Business Bay. We are collaborating with Dubai Municipality and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), which will handle all aspects related to infrastructure, electricity, water supply and sewage system within the scheme. Projects concerning the expansion of the Creek and others related to the construction of basic infrastructure within the environs will be opened to bidding and tenders will be invited later from prospective companies that will carry out the project. Accordingly, work on the basic infrastructure is expected to start within the first half of this year. What are the main elements for the basic infrastructure of Business Bay? The basic infrastructure for the Business Bay project will have three main elements: expansion and extension of the Creek; roads, electricity, water supply and sewage system; and the third is preparing the site for development works.||**||

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