Showcasing next year’s projects today

Offering a platform for developers to show off their weird and wonderful architectural models, Cityscape is also an excellent chance for contractors to see where future contract invitations may come from. Christopher Sell previews a show that continues to go from strength to strength.

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By  Christopher Sell Published  December 2, 2006

|~|148cityscape200.gif|~|HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, witnesses the launch of Bawadi in Dubailand. Cityscape is the place for contractors to see where next year’s tenders will come from.|~|While rumours continue that the residential market is going to bottom-out and property prices will adjust to more realistic levels, the real-estate sector shows no sign of slowing down. Cityscape 2006, the world’s largest property exhibition, is testament to this ongoing confidence, with exhibitors from 85 countries showcasing their development projects in Dubai this week. From Saudi Arabia to China and Europe, large numbers of companies are looking to attract investment from those countries whose governments have massive budget surpluses and are looking for good returns. Determined to capitalise on the escalating Middle East property market, Saudi Arabia is benefiting from strong oil prices, which are providing massive oil surpluses. The Saudi British Bank has estimated that Saudi Arabia’s 2006 budget surplus will be almost US $30 billion (SR112.5 billion). It is unsurprising therefore, that Saudi heavyweights such as Dar Al Arkan, Jiwar RE Management, Marketing and Development Co., Arriyadh Development Authority and Cayan Investment & Development will be present. Rohan Marwaha, group development director, Cityscape Dubai, says: “At Cityscape 2005 we had 1,200m2 of space booked by Saudi companies. This year, the figure has jumped to a massive 2,500m2 with around 20 major players from the kingdom participating.” Some $27 billion worth of business was announced during Cityscape 2005, with Saudi Arabian companies accounting for more than 25% of that figure. The kingdom is experiencing a period of unprecedented growth, with the country having one of the fastest-growing populations in the region, which is now estimated to be over 26 million. King Abdullah Economic City near Jeddah is being developed by Emaar Properties at a cost of $26 billion. The most recent scheme to be announced was an $8 billion project for Hail – the Prince Abdulaziz Bin Mosad Economic City, for which local investors, including those from Kuwait and Bahrain, took stakes in a new company, Rakisah Holding, to further the scheme. In addition, the Ministry of Education has announced a $4 billion plan to build 4,000 schools. The Saudi government also plans to upgrade and expand the country’s electricity network and water supplies, the construction of which will cost an estimated $700 million from the public purse. “The increased participation this year is a barometer for the current state of the Saudi market. It’s robust, dynamic and open for progressive development,” says Marwaha. Zheng Xiaoping, partner at Shanghai-based BAZO Investments, will be speaking at the show. He will focus on current investment opportunities and emerging trends, such as opportunities in diverse investments sectors and the prospects of working with potential partners. “China is experiencing the largest urbanisation in history. With over 800 new cities to be developed by 2020, China will create an investment climate that Middle East investors simply cannot ignore,” says Xiaoping. Not only does the conference deal with investment opportunities in China, a host of regional and international experts have been invited to address critical industry issues. The opening keynote will be delivered by Donald Trump Jr and will convey the complex strategies required to attract high net-worth investors, an issue some analysts predict as crucial to the long-term aspirations of the Middle Eastern property market. “Our decision to showcase China on the programme has attracted enormous interest and complements the global aspect of the conference,’ says Marie-Helene Couture, conference manager, Cityscape Dubai. Europe is also looking to attract investors with cash to spare. Hamburg is consolidating its presence this year with a 300% increase in floor space to ensure exposure of ongoing projects, of which the HafenCity project – rejuvenating 155ha of former docklands, is just one. Aside from Germany, Paris, Warsaw and Rome will also be showcasing diverse investment opportunities at this week’s show. Industry is not the only driver of investment. Jordan has seen an increase in property demand when trouble arises in the Middle East, and a similar trend is evident with the ongoing troubles in Iraq. It is estimated that 500,000 Iraqis currently reside in Jordan as they wait for political stability to return. This influx has fuelled the real estate boom, as it has created increased demand for apartments and office spaces. Of the 40% growth in real estate market in 2005, $212 million worth of property was purchased by non-Jordanians, with 67% attributed to Iraqis, who spent $142 million. Saraya Holdings, a real estate development company with plans for numerous multi-million dollar projects, has committed to 450m2 of exhibition space at Cityscape. It is currently involved in two major development projects; in Aqaba, and at the Dead Sea. Situated on the western tip of Aqaba, Saraya Aqaba and its man-made lagoon will commence operations in 2009, adding approximately 1.5km of beachfront to the Gulf of Aqaba. The project comprises approximately 617,000m2 of master-planned development combining residential, retail, leisure and business facilities. The total cost of the project is $995.7 million and the exclusive build contractor is Saudi Oger. In Kuwait, confidence within the real-estate sector coupled with budget surplus of $23.8 billion, has driven a number of mega-project development plans to be announced by the government. One of the key projects is the seaport on the island of Bubiyan. The largest of the country’s nine islands will house a container port, a free-trade zone and oil storage facilities. Failaka is another Kuwaiti island earmarked for development, with the focus on tourism rather than industry. The aim is to transform the 43km2 island into a major tourist hub, featuring 20 hotels and recreation facilities, at a development cost of $3.3 billion. For Dubai, a number of landmark developments will be launched at the expo. Among them will be the Dubai Towers-Dubai, which will form the centrepiece of The Lagoons. Ranging between 57-94 floors, the estimated date of completion is mid 2010. The Lagoons is a mixed-use freehold development being built along the Dubai Creek coastline. The $18 billion project will cover an area of 21.3 million m2 along 40km of waterfront land. In line with the continued upswing in projects being constructed in the UAE, Tameer, one of the region’s leading real estate firms, will announce the launch of its ‘Imperial Residence’ in Jumeirah Village. Located at Jumeirah Village South overlooking Al Khail Road and Emirates Road, the new project, spread over 304,000m2, will include 569 residential units. Tameer will also exhibit Al Salam City at this year’s Cityscape. Located close to Sharjah and Dubai International Airport, it will consist of apartments, townhouses, villas, hospitals and schools. The project is set for completion in March 2009.||**||

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