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The region’s premier monthly for lifestyle, real estate and construction

Indians invest Dh83.6 bn in Dubai realty

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08

Dubai reinstates 20% equity in projects

Sultan Al Shakrah COVER STORY Sultan Al Shakrah, CEO of Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Co.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW Jyotsna Hedge, Sobha LLC Muhammad Binghatti, Binghatti Holding

The name behind Ajmal Makan

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EDITORIAL

Developers defy the odds with new project

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Dubai Land Department reinstates the decision to allow developers to start projects with 20 percent equity investment

ubai Land Department has reinstated its previous decision to allow property developers to launch sale and marketing campaign of new off-plan projects after putting 20 percent equity, after it had raised the amount to 50 percent of the project value, according to a latest statement by the Land Department. This is a welcome move and will reduce pressure on the property developers, as the market softens further.

Despite declining property prices and rents, real estate developers continue to announce projects, carry on with the existing projects as well as deliver the ready properties to buyers. The situation evokes mixed and contrasting views on the current market situation. However, one thing is clear, the tenants and middle income groups are yet to rush to buy ready-to-move-in properties.

While new home supplies continue to expand the existing glut, the established developers seems to defy the odds and continue to go ahead with new projects. Most established developers, Emaar Properties, Nakheel, Dubai Properties, Damac Properties, Azizi Developments, Sobha LLC, Danube Properties, Dubai Investments Real Estate Co and others are going ahead with their projects as well as adding new ones. Indian nationals, meanwhile, continue to lead the investors group in to Dubai’s real estate and their investment in the last five years have reached Dh83.65 billion.

Rents, meanwhile, continue to slide due to an increased supply in the rental market. If the rents decline further, one might see a reverse migration from the neighbouring emirates of Ajman and Sharjah if the cost of living in Dubai work favourably than staying in Sharjah with lower rent and daily traffic nightmare.

Meanwhile, Gulf Property has started a new section on Smart Cities – and hope to continue with good quality editorial contents.

– T. Akhtar

40

COVERSTORY

CONTENTS

SMARTCITY

Dubai prepares to become the first Smart City in MENA 50

INTERVIEW

EXECUTIVEOPINION

Christine Lagarde/IMF 30 Atif Rahman/Danube 31 Dhiren Gupta/Mortgage 4C 35

FOCALPOINT

Sobha LLC to announce mega project in Dubai soon 56 Binghatti delivers 20 projects worth Dh2.5 billion 62 Gulf residents could help US economy through EB-5 74

74

INTERVIEW

Dubai reinstates 20% developer equity on new projects 36 Indians invested Dh83.6 billion in Dubai realty in 5 years 38

COVERSTORY

Sharjah Waterfront City to be the Miami of the East 40

56

INTERVIEW

NEWPROJECTS

Danube raises project portfolio value to Dh3.14 billion 66 Samana starts construction of maiden project at Arjan 70

REGULARFEATURES Realty Bytes Spotlight

GULF PROPERTY

The region’s premier monthly for lifestyle, real estate, construction and building materials

EDITORIAL

EDITOR T. Akhtar editor@panasian1.com

EDITORIAL COORDINATOR Zeba Malik z.malik@panasian1.com

PUBLISHER

T. Akhtar Pan Asian Media MFZ LLC

10 80

LICENCE

Licenced by RAK Media City, authorised by the National Media Council. Gulf Property is a publication of Pan Asian Media MFZ-LLC

EDITORIAL AND COMMERCIAL ADDRESS

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CIRCULATION 20,000 copies

Gulf Property

09


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REALTYBYTES

usiness conditions in Dubai appears to have improved at strongest pace in five months, according to a latest monthly economy tracker index by Emirates NBD. “Dubai Economy Tracker Index rises to 56.0 in January, from 54.7 in December 2017 with strongest employment growth in over two years,” the seasonally adjusted Emirates NBD Dubai Economy Tracker Index shows. Data for the opening month of 2018 signalled a pick-up in growth in Dubai’s non-oil private sector. The seasonally adjusted Emirates NBD Dubai Economy Tracker Index – a composite indicator designed to give an accurate overview of operating conditions in the non-oil private sector economy – rose to 56.0 in January, from December’s 14-month low of 54.7. The latest reading indicated the strongest rate of improvement for five months. “Non-oil private sector companies operating in Dubai reported the fastest growth in business activity since July 2017. Moreover, the rate of expansion was stronger than the long-run series average (since January 2010). At the sector level, construction companies noted the steepest increase in output during the latest survey period, followed closely by wholesale and retail,” Emirates NBD said in its monthly update for January 2018. Job creation in the non-oil private sector was registered for the eleventh consecutive month in January. Moreover, the rate of growth strengthened to the sharpest since November 2015. By sector, wholesale and retail (index at 56.1) was the

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Gulf Property

Dubai business pace best in five months

best performing category, followed by travel and tourism (55.7) and construction (55.2) respectively. All three categories registered stronger growth than in December. A reading of below 50.0 indicates that the non-oil private sector economy is generally declining; above 50.0, that it is generally expanding. A reading of 50.0 signals no change. The survey covers the Dubai non-oil private sector economy, with additional sector data published for travel & tourism, wholesale & retail and construction. Khatija Haque, Head of MENA Research at Emirates NBD, said: “The rise in the Dubai Economy Tracker Index signals a strong start to 2018, despite the introduction of VAT putting upward pressure on both input and output prices. The construction sector had a particularly

56.0

Emirates NBD Economy Tracker Index in January 2018, growing from 54.7

strong month in January, and this supports our view that construction will be a key driver of Dubai’s growth this year.” Matching the sequence registered for total activity, the volume of new business rose for the twenty-third successive month in January. Unlike the trend for output, however, the rate of growth

eased further to the weakest since October 2016. Despite the ongoing moderation in new business growth, business activity expectations remained strongly positive overall during January. The degree of confidence improved for the second month running and was the highest since December 2016. Sentiment was strongest in the construction sector. January data signalled a sharp increase in average cost burdens in the Dubai non-oil private sector economy, widely linked by firms to the introduction of VAT. The rate of input price inflation accelerated markedly to the highest since October 2011. The latest increase extended the current sequence of cost inflation to 23 months. All three sectors monitored registered sharp rates of input price inflation in the latest period. g


REALTYBYTES

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DLD appoints promoter for USA market

Dubai registers 150 projects worth Dh82 bn As much as Dh82 billion worth of real estate projects were approved by Dubai Land Department in 2017

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ubai Land Department said, 150 projects worth Dh82 billion were registered in 2017 while 90 projects were completed. Sultan Butti bin Mejren, Director-General Dubai Land Department, highlighted that there has been an optimistic mood in market since the beginning of 2018, and added that there is a strong demand from developers to deposit the 20 per cent of the total value of the future projects they intend to launch in the escrow acount, as it enhances investor confidence in real estate development projects. “There is a strong coordination among all relevant government institutions including Dubai Land Department, as well as between developers and various parties in the market, to establish confidence among investors and achieve the highest degree of transparency in Dubai’s

Sultan Butti Bin Mejren, Director-General of Dubai Land Department

real estate market,” Bin Mejren said. Bin Mejren also confirmed that project audit procedures help to achieve these goals, in addition to the escrow provided by the developer, which amounts to 20 per cent of the total project value to be developed. Developers are required to verify ownership of the project and pay its value in full, in addition to receiving all approvals from the

competent authorities. “All agreed and applicable procedures in the market provide reassurance to both developers and investors. They also work to limit transgressions among all parties, and prevent the emergence of any negative activities to protect the Dubai's real estate market, especially as it has gained wide international fame by focusing on protecting the rights of all. This has attracted investors from all over the world, establishing Dubai as the preferred place to live, work and visit.” He highlighted that there has been an optimistic mood in market since the beginning of 2018, and added that there is a strong demand from developers to deposit the 20% escrow of the total value of the future projects they intend to launch, as it enhances investor confidence in real estate development projects. g

ubai Land Department (DLD) has entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Aqari Global Ltd Century 21 UAE, a global real estate company that will act as DLD’s real estate promotion trustee in the USA. Over the past three years, US investors have invested Dh4 billion. US investors achieved a leading position among the top ten foreign national investors during the same period. The agreement was signed by Sultan Butti bin Mejren, Director-General of DLD, and Shadi Bteddini, CEO of Aqari Global Ltd, in the presence of senior officials from the two companies and a number of DLD partner representatives. Under the agreement, the company will act as DLD’s real estate promotion trustee in the US to help the department in its mission to position Dubai as the world's leading destination for innovation, trust and happiness. Aqari Global will also promote US investment in to Dubai’s real estate. Aqari Global, a 45-yearold company, is one of the world's leading real estate sales companies with more than 7,500 offices in 80 countries, operating in major markets such as Australia, Canada, China, France, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, the UAE, UK and USA. g Gulf Property

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he Northern Emirates will remain an affordable alternative for mid-income earners with apartment rental rates softening by 1 to 8 percent each quarter throughout 2017, an average quarterly decline of 4 percent, according to the latest report from real estate consultancy Asteco. This was consistent with the increasing number of new and affordable properties available in Dubai, which therefore encouraged Commuter-Residents from Sharjah to relocate to their work place of Dubai despite waived deposit requirements, rent-free periods, increased number of payments (up to 12 cheques) and rent adjustments. “The continuous delivery of supply in Dubai will hinder the recovery of rental rates throughout the emirates, specifically in Sharjah and Ajman, due to their proximity.” said John Stevens, Managing Director, Asteco. “However, despite declining rates, the value of real estate transactions in Sharjah grew by 37 percent in Q3 2017 as compared with the same period in 2016, according to the Sharjah Real Estate Registration Department. This was partly due to the increase in new project launches, particularly the steady increase in mixed-use, master-planned communities.” Stevens continued.

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Rents to soften in Northern Emirates Low oil prices, global political tensions (Brexit, Trump, Qatar Diplomatic Crisis) and growing real estate supply resulted in a downward trend for apartment rental rates in 2016 and 2017. Increased government spending on road and infrastructure projects is expected to strengthen the industrial and tourism sector in particular, and create a favourable environment for employment and business growth, and investment. The Northern Emirates Real Estate Report Q4 2017 revealed substantial growth in tourism throughout the year and anticipates this will not only continue but increase in 2018. In response, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) and Fujairah have announced additional hotel supply, with Sharjah aiming to attract 10 million visitors by 2021 and RAK projecting an

increase of 11 percent to 1 million tourists in 2018. The office sector continued to display little momentum throughout 2017 underpinned by a bearish market sentiment of low oil prices and regional uncertainties, which adversely affected potential upgrades and newcomers to the market. “The 2018 outlook for the office sector is subdued and is not expected to change until economic and market sentiment improve.” John Stevens added. It is important to note that the drivers behind any changes in the real estate market vary in each Emirate and are not necessarily correlated to events in the neighbouring, more prominent Emirate but depend on internal as well as external factors. Throughout 2017, Asteco noted the emergence of a

number of new real estate market trends in the UAE, including the shift in demand from high-end-luxury properties to affordable mid-market units, off-plan sales preferred over completed units due to flexible payment plans and the market becoming tenant / investor-driven due to continuously increasing supply. With the increase in new project launches, ongoing construction activity and the implementation of diversification initiatives, the Northern Emirates, notably Sharjah, are aiming to achieve economic sustainability and become less dependent on real estate demand from neighbouring Dubai in the medium- to long-term. However, in the short-term Dubai’s real estate market sentiment will continue to affect rental rates and sales prices in the Northern Emirates. g


Good news for tenants: Rents keep falling

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Rents and prices fall!

Rents and property prices continue to decline in the UAE

ents across the UAE continue to decline – which is of course good news for tenants. Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, continues experiencing a higher decline both in rental and sales prices, according to the UAE Residential Property Price Indices issued by the Real Estate Investment and Development Information Network (REIDIN), a leader in providing comprehensive and in-depth analytical information on the real estate sector in emerging markets. It’s Dubai Residential Property Sales Price Index for all residential estates decreased by 0.3 points, from 249.9 to 249.6, which represents a decline of 0.14 per cent in January 2018. Prices also went down by 3.67 per cent year-on-year. Apartment sales prices registered a minimal drop in January 2018 with a decrease of 0.03 per cent month on month, 3.74 per cent year on year. Dubai Villa Sales Prices

also registered a drop in January 2018. Villa prices dropped 0.58 per cent month on month and 3.36 per cent year on year. Few areas in Dubai such as Dubai Sports City, Discovery Gardens and Dubai Marina registered a sales price increase in January 2018. The Dubai Residential Property Rental Price Index for all residential estates decreased by 0.4 points, from

88.7 to 88.3, which represents a decrease of 0.43 per cent in January 2018 and 7.65 per cent decline year on year. Apartment rental prices registered a decrease in January 2018 with a 0.29 per cent drop month on month and a 7.43 per cent decline year on year. Villa rental prices registered a decrease in January 2018. Prices decreased 1.22 per cent month on month and 8.85 per cent year on year. Rental prices in some affordable areas such as Discovery Gardens, Jumeirah Village Circle and Dubai Silicon Oasis showed minor uptick changes. REIDIN’s Operations and Research Director Ozan Demir commented: “Dubai and Abu Dhabi residential sales markets have continued to soften during January albeit on a lower rates when compared to previous periods due to subdued real estate investment activity. Even though average sales transaction ticket prices remained unchanged, number of resi-

REALTYBYTES dential transactions in the secondary and off-plan markets have declined around 25 per cent year-on-year in January 2018.” Gross rental yields for Dubai remained same when compared to the previous month. Gross rental yield for all residential estates remained stable at 6.9 per cent month on month. For villas and apartments, the gross rental yield also stayed stable at 5.2 per cent and 7.3 percent respectively. Price-to-rent ratios for all residential estates and villas in Dubai registered a minimal increase month on month and reached 15.0 from last month’s 14.9, and 19.7 from 19.6, respectively. The Abu Dhabi Residential Property Sales Price Index for all residential estates decreased by 0.4 points, from 91.8 to 91.4, which represents a decrease of 0.40 per cent in January 2018 and a 8.04 per cent decrease year on year. Apartment sales prices registered a drop in January 2018 with a decrease of 0.50 per cent month on month and 9.21 per cent year on year. Villa sales prices registered a decrease in January 2018 and declined 0.10 per cent month on month and 4.25 per cent year on year. The Abu Dhabi Residential Property Rental Price Index for all residential decreased by 0.9 points, from 88.7 to 87.8, which represents a decrease of 0.99 per cent in January 2018. Prices decreased 10.85 per cent year on year. Apartment rental prices registered a decrease in January 2018. Villa rental prices registered a decrease in January 2018. Prices decreased 0.92 per cent month on month and also decreased 9.55 per cent year on year. g Gulf Property

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Dh56m Matajer mall project opens

atajer Al Juraina’s enhancement project has increased the size of the mall from 6,000 to 9,000 square metres (sqm), with number of stores growing from 35 to 51, and the carpark now featuring 281 spaces for visitors. “Majid Al Futtaim is changing the face of community malls by bringing well-loved brands and dining concepts closer to residents of fast-growing neighbourhoods such as Sharjah’s university area,” said Ghaith Shocair, Chief Executive Officer, Shopping Malls, Majid Al Futtaim – Properties. “Majid Al Futtaim’s focus on the Matajer brand in Sharjah also reaffirms our commitment to increasing our total investment in the UAE by Dh30 billion by 2026.” Brands such as lighthearted gift and stationery brand Typo are making their Sharjah debut with a new store at Matajer Al Juraina. Matajer Al Juraina has also widened its dayto-day service offerings with the opening of currency bureau UAE Exchange and Life Pharmacy. Other Matajer malls include Matajer Al Quoz, Matajer Al Khan and Matajer Al Mirgab, with plans to open three more community malls – Matajer Al Seyouh, Matajer Al Rahmaniyah and Matajer Al Musalla – announced last year. g

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UAE injects Dh7.2bn in 7,270 emirati housing

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he UAE government approved a plan to build 7,270 housing units for UAE nationals, valued at Dh7.2 billion under the Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme. This translated to Dh990,371 per unit, just under a million dirhams. The UAE is celebrating the 100th birth centenary of HH the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE, who was born in 1918. Under Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme, UAE nationals can apply for housing aid and the government finances the development of the housing units. The housing units will be completed in the next three years – got approved during a Cabinet meeting on Sunday – 4th February – chaired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai – held at the Presidential Palace in

Dh1 mn

average government investment per emirati villa Abu Dhabi. The move is in-line with the UAE’s National Agenda 2021, to speed up housing for Emiratis who have applied for the housing aid. “Today, around 80 per cent of Emiratis own their homes, and it’s one of the highest rates around the world. Thanks to the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE is currently living its best days and its citizens are living a life of

leisure, security and safety. Providing comfort and housing to our citizens remains a priority in the approach of Shaikh Khalifa,” Shaikh Mohammad said. “We have issued instructions to provide emirati residential neighborhoods with the latest infrastructure that takes into consideration sustainability specifications, provides a green environment and a healthy and clean atmosphere,” he added. The Cabinet also sanctioned a national plan to develop medical research centers across the UAE – in cooperation with academic institutions – to support a comprehensive development of the UAE’s health economy. The setting up of medical research centers intents to enhance the study and understanding of the medical challenges facing by the UAE community and to take measure on the necessary health services for the coming decades. g


REALTYBYTES

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Emirates REIT portfolio hits $860 million

Start-up movement picks up pace in GCC Start-up movement in the GCC is picking up slowly

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tart-up movement is gaining pace slowly but steadily in the Arab World, including countries like Oman and Egypt as hundreds of new technology start-ups are gradually being nurtured every year by venture capital funds that will change the economic landscape of the Arab World. The start-up scene is still emerging in the Arab world. With the number of start-ups growing in Arab region, the ecosystem here for entrepreneurs is improving. UAE ranked 20th in Global Entrepreneurship Index 2017, where many other MENA countries such as KSA and Egypt followed. According to a report, more than half of the leading 200 funded start-ups in the region were established in the past five years. Start-ups from the UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia account for 90 percent of total funding rose. As many as 46

90%

of start-up funding comes from 5 countries

percent of these young companies originate from the UAE. This will be reflected at the AIM Startup – the largest gatherings of start-ups, venture capital funds and other stakeholders – that will be held in Dubai from April 9 to 11, 2018 – which will also see a large-scale GCC-wide participation through country pavilions. Many Arab countries are leveraging technology to advance economic and financial inclusion, according to Christine Lagarde, Managing

Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “Fintech start-ups in the region have increased sevenfold since 2009, mostly in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and the UAE,” Christine Lagarde told delegates at a conference last week. “Jordan, for example, introduced eFawateerCom, an electronic platform that allows people to pay bills online and from ATMs. It processes more than one million transactions a year and connects people with more than 70 online billers.” Set in the heart of the UAE’s Annual Investment Meeting – the World’s Leading FDI Platform – AIM Startup is the best platform for start-up enterprises looking to raise capital, expand into new markets and forge meaningful business relationships with key investors, business leaders, representatives of international organisations and government entities. g

mirates REIT’s portfolio value reached $860 million in 2017, a yearon-year increase of 14.2 percent growth on $753 million in FY 2016. The net asset value was $1.74 per share, or $522 million, yielding a total return of 10.6 percent including the two dividend distributions totalling 8 cents per share ($24 million) paid out in January and June 2017. The outstanding bank debt was fully repaid in December and the gearing ratio stood at 41.9 percent (2016: 37.8 percent), well below the regulatory cap of 50 percent. During the period, rental income continued to grow with a 19 percent increase to $53.9 million (2016: $45.3 million), leading to a 19.6 percent increase in total property income to $60.6 million, up from $50.7 million in 2016. The acquisition of the European Business Centre in Dubai, completion of British Columbia Canadian School as well as the leasing of office units at Index Tower have driven the rise. Together with the ongoing optimisation of the REIT’s portfolio and operating expenses, rental income continued to boost funds from operations, which in 2017, adjusted for non-recurring Sukuk transaction costs, increased by 63.7 percent to $18.6 million. Net income was $52.2 million, a yearon-year increase of 9.1 percent. g Gulf Property

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SellAnyHome extends mortgage

he region’s first and largest home buying service SellAnyHome.com has announced that, due to the overwhelming demand, it's expanding its services to end-users and mortgage buyers 12 month ahead of schedule. The process is simple, end-users those who intend on living in the property and mortgage buyers, register for free to get instant access to weekly flash sales complete with the 100 point check and comprehensive 360 degree pictures. Buyers can opt to book a viewing or make a one click offer on the property of their choice, with the highest offer being presented to the seller. The weekly flash sales, as the name suggests, displays properties priced to sell for a one week period only. Omar Chihane CEO and co-founder of SellAnyHome.com said, “Extending our platform to include end users and mortgaged buyers was actually always part of the plan, we simply decided to speed up this phase due to the overwhelmingly positive response we’ve received from this segment of buyers. Over 70 percent of registered buyers fit this category and so it was an easy decision to make.” The company also caters to this segment by allowing buyers to book the properties displayed and extending the offer time to three days. g

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Gulf Property

Mirdiff Hills works 30% complete

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ubai Investments, the leading, diversified investments company listed on the Dubai Financial Market, has announced that the construction of the Dh3 billion Mirdif Hills project, being developed by its subsidiary Dubai Investments Real Estate Company [DIRC], is now 30 per cent complete. Structural work on the project’s clusters – Janayen Avenue, Nasayem Avenue and Multaqa Avenue – is progressing as per schedule. Construction of Janayen Avenue is 31 percent complete including the fourth floor slabs, while Nasayem Avenue is 34 percent completed with fourth floor slabs. The Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing works have also commenced. Multaqa Avenue is in preliminary stages of construction.

Mirdif Hills is the only freehold property in Mirdif now. A luxury community like no other, the project is expected to be fully completed starting from the second quarter of 2019. Dubai Investments has also launched the sales in Nasayem Avenue. The cluster offers a mix of two & three bedroom apartments as well as three and four bedroom duplexes. Obaid Al Salami, General Manager of DIRC, said: “We are confident of delivering the project on time while meeting the highest quality standards. A unique, wellequipped development in a strategic location, Mirdif Hills offers distinctive advantages in line with the needs and demands of the market. “The Nasayem Avenue offers a unique mix of affordable residential and commercial units that are modernly designed to meet

investors’ expectations. The overall response for the project has been very encouraging and the company anticipates similar demand for units in Nasayem Avenue.” Mirdif Hills offers flexible payment plans with 30 per cent payment during construction phase and the balance 70 per cent payment on handover. Two bedroom units start from Dh1.2 million. Strategically overlooking Dubai’s Mushrif Park with close proximity to Dubai International Airport, leading business districts, Mirdif Hills is replete with lifestyle attractions including a four-star hotel by Millennium Hotels & Resorts with 116 rooms & 128 serviced apartments, retail units, a 230-bed hospital and around 1,500 apartments – a mix of studio, one, two, three-bedroom apartments and duplexes. g


Rove Hotels expands in to Saudi Arabia

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ove Hotels, a joint venture of Meraas and Emaar Properties, has announced its expansion to Saudi Arabia with Rove King Abdullah Economic City, located centrally in the Bay La Sun waterfront district of King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in the vicinity of the Prince Mohammad Bin Salman College of Business & Entrepreneurship (MBSC) and a newly established entrepreneurship hub. Marking the debut of Rove Hotels in Saudi Arabia, Rove KAEC is the first hotel under the contemporary midscale lifestyle hotel brand outside the UAE. It will feature 240 rooms, fitness centres, and a wide range of lifestyle amenities that underpin the brand values of Rove Hotels to deliver reliable and modern hospitality that appeal to all. The construction work is anticipated to start in the second quarter of 2018 with the soft opening scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2019. Designed for the highly mobile and socially connected generation of travellers and entrepreneurs, Rove Hotels offers value-driven lifestyle choices and uplifting experiences. It has four operational hotels and four upcoming properties in Dubai. Olivier Harnisch, CEO of Emaar Hospitality Group, said: “Rove KAEC brings the innovative concept of contemporary midscale hospitality experiences to the Kingdom. Its location in KAEC, one of the fastest growing business hubs, will make it a preferred choice not only for the young and

181

sq km – the size of King Abdullah Economic City

trendy but also to travellers from around the world seeking value hospitality in a premier setting. The expansion complements the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 to drive economic diversification with tourism development as a strategic growth area.” The operational hotels – Rove Downtown, Rove City Centre, Rove Healthcare City and Rove Trade Centre – are popular among Saudi visitors to Dubai. Like all Rove Hotels, Rove King Abdullah Economic City also takes its contemporary design cues from its surroundings. All rooms will have 48-inch interactive TV screens with smart media hubs and free Wi-Fi. Comfortable mattresses, sofa beds for extra guests,

mini-fridges, lockers and modern bathrooms are standard for all rooms. Several rooms will be interconnected, ensuring the hotel is suitable for families with children. “KAEC is fast establishing a reputation as the domestic destination of choice for leisure visitors and business events and conferences. Our expanding range of entertainment and leisure offerings are having a tremendous impact on the city’s appeal and ability to deliver a standout experience for visitors,” said Ramzi Solh, CEO, Real Estate Operation and Management Company. “We have an aggressive development plan to expand our hotel and resort portfolio.” KAEC covers an area of 181 square kilometres of land, approximately the size of Washington DC, and comprises the King Abdullah Port, the Coastal Communities residential districts, the Hejaz district and the Industrial Valley, highlighting the business and leisure opportunities it offers. KAEC welcomed 400,000 visitors in 2017, more than double the number of visitors in 2016. g

REALTYBYTES

ASGC delivers Harbour Views foundation

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SGC, one of the leading construction groups in the UAE, has announced reaching a main milestone on the Harbour Views project by Emaar in Dubai Creek Harbour with the raft to the eighth-floor level completed on time and achieving 20 per cent of overall progress in the construction of the two high-rise residential towers. Located in the verdant Gallery Park area of Dubai Creek Harbour, the Harbour Views project reflects the meticulous planning, creative vision and pursuit of perfection that are the hallmark of any Emaar development. The project comprises two high-rise residential towers with 50 floors each, three floors podium, and two basements with total built up area 1,921,485 square feet. The Harbour Views will offer residents a panoramic view of Dubai’s skyline. With the foundation of the buildings completed ahead of schedule, a total of 17,800 cubic metres of concrete were used for the concrete work for the two towers. ASGC’s strategy is to utilize advanced monitoring and controlling systems using 4D Simulation Planned while delivering updates using BIM Modeling and drones to provide the client with progress photos and videos throughout the construction process. g Gulf Property

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REALTYBYTES

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Shuaa back to black with Dh74m profit

huaa Capital recorded a 156 percent jump in net profits to Dh74 million profits for 2017, up from Dh132.5 million net loss recorded in 2016. Fourth quarter results saw a notable emergence from a loss of Dh18.9 million in Q4 2016, rising to a profit of Dh14.2 million for Q4 2017. Revenues for the last quarter of 2017 jumped 22 percent to Dh42.8 million, compared to Dh35.1 million in Q4 2016. In the midst of a challenging year for regional markets, and under the guidance of a strategy built on strong fundamentals, all five business lines attained optimal performance levels and maintained healthy revenue streams. The Asset Management division which manages equities, fixed income and real estate projects in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, continued its strong performance and increased profitability by 105 per cent to Dh17.0 million. The division delivered its second project during the year, the Centro Waha hotel in Riyadh. The Investment Banking Division handled a set of important mandates during the year, including Dar Al Takaful Rights Issue, and $105 million Initial Public Offering of ENBD REIT as well as Bahrain’s Khaleeji Commercial Bank’s secondary listing on the Dubai Financial Market. g

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Gulf Property

Emaar Development profit hits Dh2.74 bn

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maar Development PJSC, the UAE buildto-sell property development business majority-owned by Emaar Properties, recorded a 30 percent growth in net profit to Dh2.74 billion ($747 million) in 2017, compared to the net profit of Dh2.11 billion ($575 million) in 2016. Total revenue for FY 2017 was Dh8.86 billion ($2.41 billion), a growth of 28 percent, compared to Dh6.89 billion ($1.88 billion) in 2016. The company has a sales backlog of Dh41 billion ($11 billion) as of December 31, 2017, highlighting its robust fundamentals with more than 24,000 residential units to be delivered over the next four years. Emaar Development reported total sales of Dh18.03 billion a growth of 25 percent as compared to Dh14.41 billion in 2016. This was driven by the launch of 9,531 residential units in about 21 new residential developments in various master-planned developments. As the pioneer in developing integrated master-planned communities in the UAE, Emaar Development has handed over more than 34,700 residential units since 2002. The launches in 2017 included: Creek Gate, Harbour Gate, Creek Rise, Address Harbour Point, 17 Icon Bay, Island Park and Cove in Dubai Creek Harbour; Park Heights I & II, Maple 3, Sidra 3, Park Ridge and Club Villas in Dubai Hills Estate; Golf Views, Urbana II & III and Golf links in Emaar South; Zabeel Square in Zabeel; Downtown Views II and Vida

Emaar Properties wholly-owned UAE projects belong to Emaar Development, a new company floated in 2017

Dubai Mall in Downtown Dubai; and Vida Residence at Dubai Marina. All the new launches, with a total project sales value of Dh20.08 billion, recorded strong investor response. Emaar Development marked its successful listing on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) in the fourth quarter of 2017, the largest listing since 2014, and the third largest offering on DFM. It now has a landbank of 167 million square feet of gross floor area for build-to-sell assets in UAE, positioning it to capitalise on the growth of Dubai’s property sector. Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties, said: “The positive perform-

ance of Emaar Development highlights the potential of the company to shape the cities of the future in the UAE. With the IPO and listing of Emaar Development, we are creating long-term value for our shareholders. We will continue to focus on building iconic developments that catalyse the economy.” With over 10 mega-developments in its portfolio, Emaar Development has wholly-owned projects under development including Downtown Dubai, Arabian Ranches, Dubai Marina and Emirates Living; as well as joint venture projects including Dubai Hills Estate, Emaar South and Zabeel Square; Dubai Creek Harbour. g


REALTYBYTES

Emaar profit up 16% to Dh5.7 bn in 2017

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maar Properties, developer of the world’s tallest tower Burj Khalifa, recorded 16 percent growth in net operating profit to Dh5.70 billion ($1.55 billion) in 2017, compared to net operating profit of Dh4.91 billion ($ 1.33 billion) in 2016. Total revenue jumped 21 per cent to Dh18.81 billion (US$5.12 billion) in 2017, up from Dh15.54 billion ($4.23 billion) in 2016. In 2017, Emaar successfully listed its UAE build-tosell property development business, Emaar Development, by selling its 20 per cent stake through an initial public offering and raised Dh4.82 billion and also announced Dh4 billion of exceptional dividend from the proceeds of the IPO. Emaar Development, majority-owned by Emaar Properties, reported total revenue of Dh8.86 billion a growth of 28 per cent compared to

Dh6.89 billion ($1.87 billion) in 2016. The company also achieved record sales of Dh18.03 billion ($4.91 billion) in 2017, an increase of 25 per cent over 2016 sales of Dh14.4 billion ($3.92 billion). Emaar Development now has a sales backlog of around Dh41 billion ($11 billion) as of December 31, 2017, highlighting the robust fundamentals of the company with more than 24,000 residential units to be delivered over the coming years. Underpinning the success of Emaar’s business segmentation, its shopping malls, hospitality and leisure and entertainment businesses together accounted revenue of Dh6.35 billion ($1.72 billion) representing 34 per cent of the total revenue of 2017, 6 per cent higher than 2016 revenue of Dh5.97 billion. Revenue from Emaar’s international development operations was Dh3.60 billion during 2017, a

growth of 35 per cent over 2016 revenue of Dh2.66 billion; global operations now account for 19 per cent of Emaar’s total revenue. During the fourth quarter (October to December) 2017, Emaar Properties recorded a revenue of Dh5.36 billion, 21 per cent higher than the fourth quarter 2016 revenue of Dh4.43 billion. Emaar recorded a net operating profit of Dh1.35 billion during the same period, 5 per cent higher than the net operating profit earned during fourth quarter 2016. Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties, said that the company’s strategic growth initiatives, underlined by the Emaar Development IPO as well as the expansion of its shopping malls and hospitality business, highlight Emaar’s commitment to long-term value creation for its stakeholders. “The growth of our businesses in 2017, across all

markets, reflects the success of our focus on delivering high quality lifestyle choices. “With our significant sales backlog and a robust development pipeline in the UAE and in high-growth international markets, we will continue to deliver on our founding objective of ‘shaping the future.” To date, the company has handed over 45,900 residential units in Dubai and global markets since 2002, with over 34,800 units delivered in UAE alone. In 2017, Emaar rolled out many new residential launches in Dubai Creek Harbour, Dubai Hills Estate, Emaar South, Arabian Ranches II and Downtown Dubai, all of them reporting strong investor response. Continuing its track-record of on-schedule project management, Emaar has made significant progress in the construction of Dubai Creek Tower, the new global icon that will create a new skyline for the nation. Emaar Malls, the shopping malls and retail business majority-owned by Emaar Properties, recorded 2017 revenue of Dh3.62 billion, a growth of 12 per cent over 2016 revenue of Dh3.22 billion. Together, the malls and retail centres of Emaar Malls welcomed 130 million visitors in 2017, 4 per cent higher than the visitor turnout of 125 million during 2016. Emaar has also expanded its retail and leisure footprint in international market by opening of Emaar Square mall in Turkey in 2017. Emaar’s hospitality and leisure, commercial leasing and entertainment businesses recorded revenue of Dh2.72 billion in the 2017. g Gulf Property

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REALTYBYTES

Campbell Gray delivers designer residences

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ampbell Gray Living Amman, one of the region’s most stylish developments, located in the downtown area of Abdali in the capital city of Jordan, has announced the completion of its luxury designer residences. The residences offer exquisite one, two and threebedroom apartments designed by London based award-winning studio, Martin Brundnizki Design Studio in collaboration with Gordon Campbell Gray. Developed by Al Seraje Real Estate, a subsidiary of the Audeh Group, Campbell Gray Living Amman is a mixed-use project offering residences, offices and retail space as well as a luxury hotel scheduled to open in 2020. The apartments have been handed over to the owners and the first residents have moved into the development. The apartments are semi-furnished with rich hardwood oak from Lebanon used throughout the living, kitchen and dining areas. The development will also include the 5-star hotel, Campbell Gray Amman due to open in 2020 which can also be accessed by residents via a underground tunnel. All the hotel’s facilities including the pool, meeting spaces, ballroom, restaurants, spa and club lounge will be open to residents. g

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Gulf Property

Aldar net profit dips 28.5% to Dh2 bn in 2017 Aldar Properties awarded construction contracts worth Dh3 billion while it sold properties worth Dh3.5 billion in 2017

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bu Dhabi-based master developer Aldar Properties’ net profit declined 28.5 percent to Dh2 billion in 2017, down from Dh2.8 billion in 2016. The company said its net profit of Dh2 billion in 2017, impacted by a 3 percent value adjustment to the company’s asset management portfolio. The company, however, recorded a 34 percent jump in its gross profits to Dh2.7 billion last year, “driven by activity on projects under construction,” the company said in a statement. Aldar recorded Dh3.5 billion sale, including Dh1.2 billion in the fourth quarter. The company’s underlying revenue was up 26 per cent to Dh6.2 billion while its asset management business achieved Dh1.6 billion net operating income guidance, supported by resilient performance and particularly strong fourth quarter. The company’s board proposed Dh0.12 per share div-

idend for 2017 proposed, up 9 per cent from Dh0.11 per share in 2016. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Aldar Properties, said: “Abu Dhabi has a clear and compelling vision, and as the Emirate’s leading property developer, Aldar plays a key role in supporting its growth. Our unrelenting focus on creating attractive urban destinations for visitors and residents of Abu Dhabi drives our ambitious growth plans and sets a solid foundation for a successful year ahead.” Aldar launched two residential developments – The Bridges and Water’s Edge – during 2017, targeting a broader spectrum of the market. The response was exceptional with almost all units selling out in a matter of weeks following their respective launches in April and September. Aldar recorded Dh3.5 billion in development sales across 1,900 units during the year, both ahead of guidance.

Aldar awarded Dh3 billion worth of onstruction contracts for the year. The handover of Ansam to customers began in December 2017. Al Hadeel, located on Al Bandar, also started handover in December 2017. Nareel Island, West Yas and Al Merief are entering final stages of construction and are on track to be handed over during the first half of 2018. Aldar’s asset management portfolio recorded Dh1.6 billion net operating income, in line with FY 2016. Residential portfolio occupancy remained steady at 91 per cent as at 31 December 2017. Occupancy at the office portfolio and Yas Mall stood at 88 per cent and 94 percent respectively. Full year hospitality portfolio recorded occupancy of 78 percent, outperforming Abu Dhabi market. Aldar Properties is the leading real estate developer in Abu Dhabi with $10 billion in assets, a 75 million square metre land bank, and through its iconic developments. g


REALTYBYTES

Revitalisation key to tackle property depreciation

Ghantoot bags Dh300m Fujairah resort contract Eagle Hills is one of the busiest developers with developments spread across the Middle East

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agle Hills Abu Dhabi has awarded the construction and infrastructure works contract for its Fujairah Beach development to Ghantoot Transport and General Contracting. The Abu Dhabi-based private real estate investment and development company made the announcement during an official signing ceremony, marking a significant milestone in the progress of the beachside luxury hotel and residential villa development in Fujairah. Ghantoot will be responsible for the construction of the entire 38,258 square metres site, which includes the 167 key Palace Hotel, 80 luxury villas and the associated infrastructure that will turn the Eagle Hills vision for the resort into a reality. Low Ping, CEO of Eagle Hills, said: “We are pleased to appoint Ghantoot Transport and General Contracting given their strong reputation

and portfolio. This milestone brings us a step closer to delivering this exciting development to Fujairah. Fujairah Beach offers a truly unique investment opportunity to buyers as it is situated on the beach and within the city, and we have already witnessed a huge demand from investors. The project is on track for 2019 completion.” With a strong portfolio and heritage dating back over three decades, Ghantoot Transport and General Contracting boasts a wealth of experience in building highend mixed-use developments across the UAE. Ali Mohammed Sadeq Al Blooshi, Chairman, Ghantoot Group, said: “We are honored to be working with Eagle Hills, offering our vast experience that will ensure this project is executed to the highest quality standards.” Fujairah Beach is centrally located, with an 8-minute drive from the local airport, and 35 minutes away from

the border of Oman. It is expected to be completed by 2019 and will be the first residential development in Fujairah with direct access to the beach on the renowned Gulf of Oman coastline. The new Palace Fujairah Beach is a premium luxury hotel that will be managed by Address Hotels + Resorts brand. It will offer a health club, select cafes, high-quality dining outlets, separate pool for adults and children and world-class meeting venues. In addition to the UAE, Eagle Hills is developing projects in four international markets, namely Morocco, Bahrain, Jordan and Serbia, where it is working to reinvigorate city hubs, improving the standard of living and increasing investment in the local economies. In August 2017, the company signed a Dh300 million facility with the National Bank of Fujairah to finance the construction of Fujairah beach. g

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evitalisation is the solution to tackle the growing challenge of property asset depreciation for many owners, experts said at a recent industry event in Dubai. Over the last ten years, there has been a 74 per cent increase in commercial and residential buildings in Dubai, as well as a 38 per cent increase in hotel buildings. A continuous rise in building standards has also made it more difficult for older properties to remain attractive, further accelerating depreciation. Peter Prischl, International and Global Head of Corporate Real Estate, Drees and Sommer, explained that revitalisation is the key to increasing the value of properties for developers and landlords, “A building’s value depreciates over time. The rate of depreciation is dependent upon three key quality factors which will have been completed at the start of the project: design, materials and construction. Effective minimisation of depreciation can be achieved through regular maintenance of structure and MEP, as well as refurbishments. However, if we are to achieve renewed RoI, we must undergo a revitalisation project, ideally every 15 years." Dubai currently has more than 500 hotels over ten years old that need revitalisation. g Gulf Property

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Palm Tower reaches 42 floors

akheel, the Dubai-based property developer said, it’s landmark Palm Tower on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah has passed the 80 per cent mark in terms of concrete works, with 42 floors complete and the remaining eight residential floors to be delivered in the third quarter of this year. Located at the heart of the Palm Jumeirah, the Palm Tower will have 50 floors of hotel and residential accommodation topped off by one of the world’s highest rooftop infinity pools, a 51 level restaurant complex and 52 floor public viewing deck. Soaring 240 metres above the island, The Palm Tower comprises a 289-room St. Regis hotel, 432 luxury residences and an array of dining and leisure facilities. The hotel will occupy the first 18 floors, with fully furnished studios and one, two and three bedroom apartments on the upper floors. The Palm Tower’s star attraction is its rooftop dining and leisure complex – a destination in itself – from where residents and the public can marvel at awe-inspiring, panoramic views across Palm Jumeirah, the Arabian Gulf and Dubai’s world-famous skyline. The rooftop complex includes a 50th floor infinity pool, 210 metres above ground, bordering all four sides of the building. g

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Gulf Property

UNEC gets Dh4.2bn Deira Mall contract Deira Mall is slated to be the largest mall in the UAE in terms of leasable area

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aster developer Nakheel has awarded a Dh4.2 billion construction contract to United Engineering Construction (UNEC) for the construction of Deira Mall, its new shopping, dining and entertainment destination with a total development value of Dh6.1 billion – and the biggest mall in the Middle East. Deira Mall is the UAE’s largest in terms of leasable space and one of Dubai’s highest-value construction contracts awarded for a single project of late. Construction will begin in the first quarter of this year, with completion in 2021. Deira Mall, part of Nakheel Malls’ Dh16 billion expansion that will take its total retail space to over 17 million square feet, will have more than 1,000 shops, cafes, restaurants and entertainment outlets across 4.5 million square feet of leasable

space, and a 3.8 million square feet multi-storey car park with 8,400 parking bays. The mall’s star attraction, a retractable glass roof will bring natural light into the complex and allow for openair shopping during cooler months. Deira Mall will be the centrepiece of Deira Central, Nakheel’s nine million square feet mixed-use community at the heart of Deira Islands, containing 50 residential and hotel towers, retail, mosques and fitness facilities, all set in extensive parkland. Deira Mall is one of two large-scale retail destinations by Nakheel Malls at Deira Islands. The other, Deira Islands Night Souk, will be the world’s largest night market, with 5,300 shops and almost 100 quayside cafes and restaurants. Construction is in full swing, with the project due for completion later this year. Nakheel is also building several hotels and re-

sorts at Deira Islands, including an 800-room beachfront resort and waterpark through a joint venture with Spain’s RIU Hotels and Resorts, and a 600-room seafront resort under a partnership with Thailand’s Centara Hotels and Resorts. The company has also signed an MoU with Hilton to manage a 250-room hotel and 200 serviced apartments at Deira Islands under the DoubleTree brand. Spanning 15.3 square kilometres, Nakheel’s Deira Islands waterfront city is transforming the area traditionally known as ‘Old Dubai’ into a world-class retail, tourism, living and leisure hub. More than 250,000 people will live there when the project is complete. The four-island development, which is adding 40 kilometres, including 21 kilometres of beachfront, to Dubai’s coastline, is paving the way for hundreds of tourism, leisure and residential developments. g


REALTYBYTES At A Glance Dh8 billion worth of construction contracts awarded by Nakheel in 2017

Nakheel profit jumps 14% to Dh5.6 bn in 2017

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akheel reported a 14 percent increase in net profits to US$1.54 billion (Dh5.67 billion) in 2017, the developer’s best performance to date, boosted by a 58 per cent jump in its fourth quarter net profit of Dh1.67 billion in 2017, on the same period in 2016. This is higher than most corporate results declared for 2017. The 2017 results highlight the stability and maturity of Dubai’s real estate sector and reflect the robust business and economic approach adopted under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Nakheel handed over 1,439 land and built form units in 2017, taking the total number of handovers since 2010 to 12,700, while the retail, hospitality and leasing

24,000 residential units under construction by Nakheel

businesses all continued to perform well. Nakheel Chairman Ali Rashid Lootah said: “[The year] 2017 was another good year for Nakheel. The company met its business and financial targets for the year and continued to support the local economy by awarding construction contracts worth almost Dh8 billion in 2017.” The 2017 results reflect Nakheel’s progress over the past few years in diversifying

its business in creating revenue-generating assets. At the end of the year, Nakheel had 4.6 million square feet of retail space in operation that led to increased annual revenue from the retail business – a key focus for Nakheel – which is expected to generate significant incremental revenue in subsequent years. Nakheel is one of the largest players in the residential leasing sector and this business too contributed positively in 2017. The company remains committed to providing quality leasing accommodation, with plans to increase its number of units for lease in subsequent years. Ali Rashid Lootah continued: “Nakheel has an impressive portfolio of projects under development which will further reinforce our position as an established, worldleading developer.” Just four weeks into 2018, Nakheel has awarded the construction contract for its

Dh5.67 billion net profit recorded by Nakheel in 2017

12,700

land and built-form units handed over by Nakheel since 2010

270,000

people live in communities built by Nakheel

800-room, joint venture with RIU Hotels and Resorts, signed another agreement with AccorHotels (ibis) to manage a new hotel at Jumeirah Village and started building a community club at its new Warsan Village community. Nakheel is one of the world’s leading developers and a major contributor toDubai economy and tourism. Nakheel continues to deliver and enhance an iconic portfolio of innovative landmark projects in Dubai across the residential, retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Its master developments include together span more than 15,000 hectares and currently provide homes for over 270,000 people. Nakheel has more than 24,000 residential units under construction or in the pipeline. Nakheel’s current and future retail project portfolio covers 17.3 million square feet of leasable space. g Gulf Property

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Servcorp in $16m new products

ervcorp, an originator and innovator in serviced offices, virtual offices and co-working environments, has said that the investment of over US$16 million in its global product offering will have a direct impact on the co-working market in the GCC and Middle East. The investment has already seen Servcorp open new co-working spaces globally, including in Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Jeddah and London, and the investment is expected to be fully deployed in the launch of new workspaces by June 2018. Servcorp is one of the leaders in its industry in the roll out of coworking facilities in the region, where it sees a clear opportunity for growth. The $16 million investment will allocate funds to develop fully-fledged coworking facilities across 50 of its business’ locations, including in the rapidly growing Middle East markets of Dubai, Riyadh and Bahrain, where there remains a relative lack of supply for prospective users. The company has achieved profitability since its establishment in 1978, with this latest major investment in co-working aiming to support continued profitable growth. The roll out programme follows a six-month pilot exercise, during which Servcorp successfully tested the merits of co-working in the premium office market. g

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Gulf Property

Innovate Living unveils Palme Couture homes Palme Couture Residences will be developed on the Palm Jumeirah island

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ubai-based boutique developer, Innovate Living, launched its latest and flagship project ‘Palme Couture Residences’ located on the trunk of Palm Jumeirah. The bespoke development is founded on the codes of living by design, contemporary minimalism and clarity of detail. It will feature a collection of 14 exclusive suites including 3-bedroom lateral apartments, 4-bedroom townhouses and 5-bedroom duplexes (measuring from 5,028 – 10,715 square feet), all the way up to the Royal Penthouse of 7-bedrooms (19,247 square feet), complete with separate guesthouse and terrace (4,656 square feet). Innovate Living pursues lifestyle projects in the UAE that provide a canvas for their ideology of meaningful design and beauty of space. Its mission is to create

unique and stylised concepts through a blend of ideas and experiences. It strives to enrich lives by being at the forefront of innovation - whether technology-led or design-led, and seeks like-minded partnerships to help activate its vision. All units include open air spaces, an exquisite mix of marble finishes, breath-taking views, direct beach access, walk-in master closets and private underground parking. Kareem Fahmy, Founder and CEO of Innovate Living: “Innovate Living operates a diversified portfolio of projects in sectors such as development, F&B, interior design, refurbishment and maintenance. Our journey to date has been one of success, with investments in a range of projects valued at over $125 million across different divisions. We plan to make further forays following strong interest in our brand.”

“With Palme Couture Residences, our aim was to bring a previously unseen living concept to Dubai. High-end Italian brands, enviable arrangements of light, beachfront views and a unique mix of exquisite marbles form the project canvas. All elements were carefully selected to deliver more than just a physical space but a lasting impression.” Homeowners at Palme Couture will be the designled luxurians, particular about privacy and who appreciate quality, innovation, craftsmanship, handpicked artisans and smart systems to manage their home environment. Innovate Living’s sales strategy is to sell its properties after completion to allow homeowners an opportunity to appreciate the real value of their investment. Palme Couture Residences are scheduled to be move-in ready by the middle of February 2018. g


Al Seef Street gets 2 Zabeel House hotels

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umeirah Group, the global luxury hotel company and a member of Dubai Holding, said, it has signed a management agreement to operate two hotels under its Zabeel House by Jumeirah brand at Al Seef, a bustling destination by Meraas on the south bank of Dubai’s much-loved creek. The two hotels will open Spring 2018 with booking channels already open. The two properties will be located within the contemporary area of Al Seef, comprising a total of 350 room-keys. The hotels will be the first to open under the Zabeel House by Jumeirah brand, launched in January 2018. High on design but low on complexity, hotels under the new brand will offer brilliant basics and unexpected extras set in a casual environment, perfect for adventure. Located adjacent to Al Fahidi historical district, Al Seef is rooted in Dubai’s cul-

ture and heritage, with a charming atmosphere that resonates throughout its distinct heritage and contemporary areas. The first phase of the 2.5 million square feet destination opened in late 2017 and the development will be completed in 2018. In addition to the Zabeel House hotels, Al Seef will house an additional 200 room-key heritage hotel, an authentic souk, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, craft workshops, handicraft stores, a floating market, a 68-berth marina, and links to the Dubai water taxi network. Jumeirah Group Chief Operating Officer Marc Dardenne said: “The Zabeel House brand responds to the continuing travel trend for discovery and exploration and Al Seef, with so much to uncover within the neighbourhood and its central position as a gateway to Dubai, is an ideal location for the first hotels to open within the

Zabeel House by Jumeirah collection.” Cherif Hosny, Chief Hospitality Officer at Meraas, said: “Al Seef has become a focal point for residents and visitors looking for a unique place to shop and dine. Our objective is to revitalise the tourism experience around one of the UAE’s most popular locations and the association with Jumeirah is very important to attract guests.” Jumeirah has a number of hotel management agreements in place for Zabeel House including the recently announced Zabeel House The Greens in Dubai, and properties in Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. The announcement brings the total number of properties Jumeirah Group will open by mid-2019 to 12, including Zabeel House projects, in addition to the 19 Jumeirah hotels already in operation in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. g

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Azizi gets ready for Star

zizi Developments, a leading private real estate developer operating in the UAE for over a decade, is set to deliver its second largest project Azizi Star Hotel Apartments in Al Furjan ahead of schedule in Q3, 2018. Consisting of a total of 458 apartments including 310 studio, 46 one-bedroom and 102 two-bedroom units, the Azizi Star Hotel Apartments is the second largest project undertaken by Azizi Developments in Al Furjan that spans across 528,531 square foot and includes 9,500 square feet retail space. The Azizi Star Hotel Apartments in Al Furjan are part of a larger portfolio of community lifestyle developments which includes Azizi Riviera in Meydan One and the mega mixed-use urban project, Azizi Victoria in MBR City – District 7, as well as other projects in Dubai Healthcare City, and Jebel Ali. Phases 3 and 4 of Azizi Development’s flagship project, the Dh12 billion Azizi Riviera are scheduled to begin in February. “Ensuring delivery of our projects on time or ahead of schedule is at the core of Azizi Development’s business strategy. [The year] 2018 is all about construction with satisfied home owners being key to our success and we look forward to continue our fast pace of completion and handovers in Al Furjan,” Mirwais Azizi, group chairman, said g Gulf Property

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REALTYBYTES

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Etherty offers real estate trade portal

new investment portal has launched offering a real estate linked-crypto currency that enables investors to seize property investment opportunities all over the world, primarily in key markets such as Dubai, Mexico and Australia. Etherty’s business concept capitalises on the increasing local and international investment movement in the real estate market. Experts estimate the global total value of developed real estate to be over $217 trillion, significantly higher than the total global traded equities and securitised debt instruments put together. In 2016, global real estate transactions reached $661 billion. The Ethery Trading Portal (ETP) is envisioned to be a one-stop solution for all global or local property transactions from a laptop or smartphone; and enable anyone to network with fellow real estate investors. By offering a portfolio of properties backed by standardised indicators to users to crowd-sale, buy and trade, Etherty intends to break barriers for seamless property trading. Etherty is planning an ICO 15th March 2018, with a total supply of 240,000,000 ETY tokens. All the tokens will be distributed following the completion of the ICO. New tokens cannot be created, and existing tokens cannot be destroyed. g

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Gulf Property

Intermass and Klampfer gets Arada villa contract

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rada, a joint venture involving Saudi billionaire Price Alwaleed bin Talal’s family, has awarded main construction contracts to Intermass Engineering and Contracting and Klampfer Middle East for Phase 2 of Nasma Residences, a villa and townhouse community in the heart of New Sharjah, to two separate companies. Sharjah-based Intermass Engineering and Contracting and Klampfer Middle East, a joint venture between Basma Group and KBW Investments, will construct the 184 villas and townhouses that make up Phase 2 of Arada’s first project. Mobilisation onsite will begin in February, and handover of units to homeowners is scheduled for the first quarter of 2019. Launched in March 2017, Nasma Residences sold out the first of the community’s five phases in less than a month, making it the fastestselling residential project in Sharjah. In total, the project

Dh24bn value of Aljada

contains 800 homes, and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019. The main construction contract on Phase 1 was also awarded to Intermass. Enabling works began onsite in September last year, and the first phase is on track to be delivered to buyers by the end of 2018. Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Arada, said: “This year is a hugely important one for Nasma Residences, as we work towards handing over our first homes in the final quarter. These contracts for Phase 2 of this community shows our commitment to homebuyers to move quickly and deliver on schedule.” Spread over an area of 5 million square feet, Nasma Residences has been care-

fully planned to ensure a balance between living areas and community facilities. Nasma Residences will be anchored by a number of community offerings: a 13acre park with jogging tracks and large play areas; a community centre with club house offering sports and recreation facilities; children’s nursery and full-service medical clinic; a school and Nasma Square, a retail mall. Nasma Residences offers a superior location in the heart of new Sharjah. It is located at the intersection of Emirates Road (E611) and Maliha Road, adjacent to the newly developing Tilal City, Tilal Mall and the new Sharjah Convention Centre. It is also just 15 minutes from Sharjah International Airport and Sharjah University City. With homes prices starting from Dh1,045,000, it offers an attractive opportunity for investors who want to buy in a lively new urban destination. g


Damac profit declines 9% to Dh3.6 bn in 2017

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decline in gross margins to 48.8 percent last year from 55.9 percent the previous year, has pulled down Damac Properties’ gross profits by 9 per cent to Dh3.6 billion in 2017, the company said in a statement. “Margin decline was mainly due to international project deliveries during the year, UAE projects margin remains healthy at 52.1 per cent,” the company said in a statement. Damac Properties reported Dh2.8 billion net profits for 2017. Earnings per share stood at Dh0.46 for 2017. Damac’s Board proposed dividend of Dh1.5 billion (Dh0.25/share) for year ended 2017 which will be paid upon approval by the relevant authorities, and the shareholders during the general assembly. However, the company’s

Dh1.5bn dividends proposed by Damac Board

total revenue increase 4 percent to Dh7.5 billion in 2017. Total cash and bank balances stood at Dh7.5 billion. Gross debt stood at Dh4.8 billion as at 31 December 2017. This represents a debt to equity ratio of 0.34 versus 0.30 as at 31 December 2016. Damac delivered 2,304 units comprising 1,452 units in Damac Hills and 852 units

at its international developments, including its twotower project in Saudi Arabia (Damac Esclusiva – 454 units) as well as its first project in Jordan (The Heights – 398 units) comprising three towers in 2017 – bringing its total deliveries to 20,236 units as of 31 December 2017, marking a milestone for the company and the industry as a whole. As of 31 December 2017, Damac Properties’ booked sales stood at Dh7.5 billion versus Dh7 billion in 2016. “Dubai’s property market continues to show growth as increasing demand returns to the market, and this is reflected in our booked sales. Our medium to long term outlook remains positive, with continued local demand as well and stronger interest by international investors. Our major projects in Dubai including Damac Hills, Akoya Oxygen and Aykon City con-

REALTYBYTES

tinue to appeal to expats and international investors alike, while our diverse product portfolio continues to attract a wide variety of buyers for our off-plan and ready properties,” said Hussain Sajwani, Chairman of Damac Properties. Damac expanded its villa offering at Akoya Oxygen, its second master community in Dubailand, introducing new villa types designed for buyers seeking value in an integrated golf community. It’s partnership with the Roberto Cavalli Group in 2017 led to the launch of the highly-successful ‘Just Cavalli’ villas, featuring the designer’s distinctive signature style. Damac’s residential leasing at Damac Hills comprised of 328 units, and is 97 percent leased out as at 31 December 2017. Damac also commenced operations of its 305-key Damac Maison Royale The Distinction, in Downtown Dubai, bringing the number of hotels in operation to six. Construction continues on over 6,500 villas, apartments at Akoya Oxygen, while its golf course, and community infrastructure is shaping up. The community’s amenities, including wellbeing facilities, retail outlets, as well as hospitality, food and beverage elements, are in various stages of planning and progress. The year 2017 also saw Damac working more closely with its agent network locally and globally, having activated 226 new brokers in 2017. Damac also conducted 524 roadshows across 107 cities in 42 countries in 2017 alone. g Gulf Property

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REALTYBYTES

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Drake & Scull back to black

rake and Scull International (DSI), which went through a recapitalisation and ownership restructuring exercise last year, returned to profitability with 11 percent increase in revenues to Dh656 million and profits reaching Dh0.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. “Projects performance picked up momentum during the fourth quarter of 2017 with the overall quarterly revenue increasing 11 percent to Dh656 million compared to the preceding quarter (Q3, 2017). The company returned to profitability and reported a net profit of Dh0.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to a net loss of Dh359 million recorded in Q3 2017,” a company statement said. DSI’s total projects backlog stood at Dh5.5 billion, supported by Dh494 million worth of new projects in the MEP and Water Treatment sectors secured in the UAE and KSA during the fiscal year. DSI management continues to lay the foundation for an improved and sustained operational and fiscal performance, with a renewed focus on DSI’s core MEP business in its key markets. “The company remains committed towards the realisation of the recovery objectives set forth by the new leadership team appointed in the fourth quarter of 2017 to steer the company back to recovery and growth,” it says. g

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Union Properties’ loss hits Dh2.3bn in 2017 Union Properties went through a management and board shake-up last year

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nion Properties, one of the leading real estate developers in the UAE, reported a net loss of Dh2.3 billion for the 12 months ending December 31, 2017, compared with a net profit of Dh211 million in the corresponding period of last year. This is equivalent to Dh0.55 loss per share. The UAE real estate developer delivered revenues of Dh640 million in the 12 months ending December 31, 2017, compared with Dh960 million for the same period of 2016. Total assets stood at Dh5.6 billion as of December 31, 2017, compared with Dh7.9 billion at the same time in the prior year. While shareholders’ equity was Dh2.6 billion as of December 31, 2017, compared with Dh5.0 billion at December 31, 2016. Most of the losses recorded were related to Dh2.8 billion worth of provisions booked in the second quarter of 2017 for the re-as-

sessment of some of the company’s assets, which reflected the new management team’s prudent approach to risk. Nasser Butti Omair bin Yousef, Chairman, Union Properties, said: “[The year] 2017 marked a major turning point for Union Properties, where we successfully mapped out a comprehensive growth strategy spanning across our operations. We have worked internally to ensure they reflect the new growth directions we are heading towards. This enables us to enhance the efficiency of our operations, diversify our investment portfolio and expand our business by entering new markets to achieve longterm, sustainable growth. We look forward to further achievements in 2018 and beyond. “During the second half of 2017, Union Properties achieved significant milestones such as unveiling the new master plan for Motor

City and launching several new projects and subsidiary companies that will contribute to the long-term growth of the group. Our recent decisions such as selling our stake in Emicool and buying shares in Palm Hills will contribute towards strengthening our portfolio, expanding our operations and development projects as well as supporting our growth strategy. This comes at a time where we seek to strengthen the Group’s efficiency and maximise its potential for opportunities in the UAE and around the world.” In line with its strategy to further diversify operations and revenue sources, Union Properties also established two fully-owned subsidiary companies in the third quarter of 2017: Union Malls, which offers retail and leisure options in Union Properties developments, and Al Etihad Hotel Management, which develops and manages luxury hotels and furnished residences in Dubai. g


Mabanee to build retail destination Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Shurooq, seen with Mohammed Abdulaziz Alshaya, chairman of Mabanee and other officials after the signing of a deal to develop a retail destination in Sharjah that will boost the emirate’s economy

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harjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) said, it will develop a retail destination in Sharjah with a leading Kuwaiti real estate developer Mabanee, which Shurooq said, “will change the face of retail in Sharjah”. The new partnership was formed during an agreement signing which took place on Sunday between Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and Mohammed Abdulaziz Alshaya, Board Chairman of Mabanee, in the presence of executives from both parties. Covering 65,000 square metres, the new development in the Mughaider area aims to transform the area into a premium tourist and leisure destination for Sharjah’s residents and visitors. Strategically located on Sheikh Mohammed bin

Zayed Road, one of UAE’s major transport arteries connecting Sharjah with other emirates, the project will deliver enormous potential for retail opportunities. Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Shurooq, said: “This project aligns perfectly with our economic and community vision to create integrated developments. Through our partnership with Mabanee, we look forward to reinforcing and realising that commitment, drawing on the company’s vast experience which will support Sharjah’s diversified economy.” The development will house world-class stores, restaurants and cafes and high-end recreational facilities. The new project will be developed and managed by Mabanee, a leading GCC developer which lists the highly successful shopping brands The Avenues Kuwait and The Avenues Bahrain among its

portfolio. Mohammed Abdulaziz Alshaya, Chairman of Mabanee, said: “Mabanee sees investment opportunities in the UAE, especially Sharjah, as a new horizon for its business growth. This approach draws on the immense success of our flagship project The Avenues Kuwait and extends our business operations even further beyond Kuwait to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain where The Avenues Bahrain was inaugurated in October 2017. Work is currently underway on the Avenues Riyadh and The Avenues Al Khobar, with total investments of $5.5 billion. “As a strategic partner, Shurooq offers us substantial support and incentives and we look forward to a new phase of broader cooperation on other projects in the future.” Mabanee, with a paidup capital of KD93.7 million, has been listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange. g

REALTYBYTES

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Al Qattara to expand Al Ain city project

l Qattara Investments, a mixeduse development in Al Ain, has signed an agreement with GEMS Education to strengthen Al Ain Square, the rebranded new identity of Hazza Bin Zayed Community, and reiterated the firm’s future plans for the city of Al Ain. The announcement marks the development of the community’s third phase, including residential, commercial and community facilities. Phase one and two were completed in 2014 and 2017 and it comprises of gross floor area of 450,000 square meters. The third phase, which is scheduled to be completed by 2022, will see an additional 200,000 square meters, including the development of a GEMS School. This is the first time that Al Qattara Investments announced a partnership with GEMS Education. “Since inception we have been supporting the vision of the company, which is aligned with our strategy to develop sustainable tourism and residential destinations,” said Sultan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, Director of Tourism Ecosystem. Al Ain, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, has always been the emirate’s cultural and heritage heartland, and with developments, Al Ain will remain an appealing destination for the generation to come,” he added.g Gulf Property

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OPINION

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CHRISTINE LAGARDE

Managing Director International Monetary Fund

tarting with the global economic picture, the good news is that we finally see a broad-based upswing, involving three quarters of the world economy. We expect global growth to accelerate further to 3.9 percent this year, and 3.9 next year as well. There is good news also in Indonesia, where growth is projected to reach 5.3 percent in 2018, and rise gradually over the medium term. This momentum can lead to further increases in economic and social wellbeing. Indonesia can be proud of the progress achieved. Over the past two decades, poverty levels have declined by almost 40 percent; life expectancy has increased by more than 6 percent; and the number of people with tertiary schooling has increased by 250 percent. These achievements are representative of the positive trends across ASEAN countries. At the same time, economic landscapes are shifting. Think of the increased volatility in financial markets. Think of the heightened risk of trade disputes. And think

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Gulf Property

Inclusive growth key for the ASEAN of the profound impact of rapid technological advances such as digitalisation, robotics, and artificial intelligence. The good news is that ASEAN countries have built stronger economic foundations — which helped them weather the global financial crisis and the ‘taper tantrum’ in 2013. Indeed, most countries in the region have improved their policy frameworks. This includes adopting inflation targeting in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand; as well as fiscal rules in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. More broadly, it also involves strengthening financial policies and allowing for more exchange rate flexibility across the region. But the recent volatility in financial markets has been a reminder that a fundamental economic transition is underway. Policymakers around the world — including in ASEAN — are preparing for the gradual normalisation of monetary policy in major advanced economies. We have known for some time that this is coming, but it remains uncertain as to how exactly it will affect companies, jobs, and incomes. Clearly, policymakers need to stay vigilant about the likely effects on financial stability, including the prospect of volatile capital flows. There is also room for bold reforms to make economies more resilient. All ASEAN members can build on their achievements to ensure that the next generation will be better off. Managing demographic

transitions is a major part of this equation. Countries with young and growing populations — such as Indonesia and Malaysia — can seize this opportunity to reap a ‘demographic dividend’ by creating more, higher-quality jobs. At the same time, countries such as Thailand and Vietnam can take steps to mitigate the effects of rapidly aging populations by using technology to boost workforce productivity. Of course, these are only some of the tools that can be used. While there is no single policy recipe in this incredibly diverse region, all countries can benefit from sharing their experiences — working together to promote inclusive growth. What have we learned? A key priority is investing in people. In most ASEAN countries, there is room to increase education spending. Think of ‘Indonesia Pintar’, a savings programme that will help keep more than 20 million children enrolled in schools. There is also room to boost the proportion of women in the workforce by, for instance, providing affordable childcare and promoting women’s access to finance. Here in Indonesia, female participation in the labor market has increased in recent years to 51 percent. Building on this momentum will be critical to close the gender gap. This could be an economic game-changer — and not just in this country. By some estimates, closing the gen-

der gap in the labor market could boost GDP by 9 percent in Japan, 10 percent in Korea, and 27 percent in India. Another policy priority is to improve the business environment — by cutting red tape and stepping up the fight against corruption. This can make it easier for new and innovative firms to get started and grow, creating jobs in dynamic sectors. Investment in high-quality infrastructure is also important. Indonesia, for example, has a pipeline of more than 250 projects; the Philippines plans to spend $180 billion on rails, roads, and airports. We also must prepare for the digital revolution that is already beginning to change workplaces and economic structures — in this region and around the world. A recent McKinsey study found that 60 percent of today’s jobs comprise some tasks that will soon be automated. So we all need to think about the future of work. Managing this transition will be a major part of the answer to creating opportunities for all people. We know that new growth models will rely on a range of technological innovations — from artificial intelligence, to robotics, to biotechnology, to fintech. We also know that this region is, in many ways, a leader in these fields. I recently attended the Singapore Fintech Festival, where I had a chance to meet with some of the world’s most dynamic entrepreneurs and innovators. g


Affordable Homes

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ubai’s real estate sector outperformed many other economic sectors of the emirate last year, with six per cent growth in the transaction value reaching Dh285 billion in 2017, up from Dh268.7 billion recorded in 2016, according to the Dubai Land Department. The value of sales of land, buildings and units in the Dubai real estate market totalled Dh114 billion through 49,000 transactions, while mortgages for the same three categories reached Dh138.5 billion through 15,700 transactions. In terms of the number of transactions, Dubai Land Department recorded a 14 per cent growth in the number of land and property transactions to 69,000. This in a layman’s term, means that the average value of transactions have become more affordable, reflecting a shift towards smaller units with more reasonable ticket prices. As a developer with a long term view of the emirate’s real estate market, we believe affordable homes are a way forward for Dubai to make the sector more sustainable. Now, the question remains, what is an affordable home? What price threshold are we talking about? Affordable home is a very relative term. For example, the price of an affordable home in Dubai is completely different from what it is in Ajman or Umm Al Quwain. Generally, if a studio apartment is priced at below Dh400,000 – we could call it an affordable home. Fortunately, price of a studio apartment has come down to that level. An affordable one-

bedroom apartment is selling at Dh600,000 to Dh850,000 now depending on the location. We have seen the price of a two-bedroom townhouse starting from Dh1 million while the three-bedroom variant starts trading from Dh1.3 million. Affordable home prices also vary from location within the same city. For example, price of an apartment at Dubai South will be much lower than the one located at Business Bay. For the last 15 years since the announcement of freehold properties in Dubai in 2002, developers have been building luxury properties in the emirate so much so, that there came a point of saturation in luxury properties. This was in sharp contrast to the development of affordable homes built in the city from the 1970s through to the 1990s – when residential apartments were targeted to house the middle income groups. While we might believe that affordable homes are relatively new term, Dubai Government built a number of affordable home clusters in Deira, Karama, Al Ghusais, Satwa and Abu Hail neighbourhoods that hosted families of public sector employees working for different government departments. These homes helped families to live in the emirate with lower cost of housing. There were non-freehold those days. Most of these properties are still in existence and continue to support the emirate’s middle class families. However, the freehold property boom in 2004-2008, shifted the game towards luxury properties – something that is now changing towards affordable homes, a

clear sign of the maturity attained by the market. The continuous development of luxury properties and the lack of deliveries of affordable homes had gradually pushed the demand for middle-income homes and pushed up the rents so much so that the middle income families started migrating to the neighbouring emirates to save themselves of higher rent-related inflationary pressure, resulting in a daily traffic congestion on all inter-state highways between Dubai and Sharjah. This led to an imminent gap in Dubai’s property market. After the recovery led by some immense planning, regulatory reforms and massive infrastructure expansion, the industry realised the importance and opportunity in the affordable home segment. I strongly believe that in order to make Dubai’s real estate sector sustainable, developers need to continue exerting effort in delivering more affordable homes so that the backbone of the economy, the mid income segment continues to call Dubai it's home. The retention of the middle class and a possible reverse migration of the middle income families from neighbouring emirates will result in a very good multiplier effect on Dubai’s economy. The retail activities and domestic consumption will grow manifolds from the spending of these families. Such an equilibrium will also reduce traffic congestion between Dubai and neighbouring emirates and thus reduce gasoline consumption resulting in reduced carbon emission. Most importantly, this will help save at least 3-4 hours

OPINION

ATIF RAHMAN

Director and Partner Danube Developers

of time spent on traffic every working day and help a person utilise time in better productive cause and adding to the happiness index of the population. However, this would require a massive affordable housing programme and that would require a strong public-private partnership. Government could look into subsidising land price for areas earmarked for affordable homes that could be passed on to the middle income families. I also believe that success of any affordable home will largely depend on developers ability to bring down cost of acquiring property intelligently. It must be done through value engineering, exquisite planning and careful material selection and not by just reducing the size, deteriorating quality or cutting down on amenities. As the market matures, we will continue to see a strong case and increase in demand for affordable homes in the emirate. It will continue to grow into one of the biggest opportunity in the real estate sector which promises to not just boost the real estate sector but drive overall economic growth. g Gulf Property

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Mortgage Options

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hat you need to know before you plan the property purchase – off plan or ready-made property? Today with the price of oil still recovering and as the market bottoms out, developers continue to target the middle income housing segment and have shifted their development to attract more end-user investors. However, when it emanates to real estate investment, always there is an immense dialogue amongst the buyers – where to invest off-plan or ready-to-move-in properties. The investment in the real estate market is very much based upon individual investor’s constraint and the individual’s budget. There are different types of real estate investors – one are those, who look to invest with an eagerness to have an immediate high-yield return with cash investment or mortgage finance and the other are those who prefer to work with a supple payment option which undertakes long-term healthy yield on an investment within the delineated period of time. And some select the unit for own use. Well, both hinge on investor’s appetite and have its own rewards and disadvantages, which need to be taken well into thought before investing. Ready units are completely constructed and set for ownership. They are wellmatched for investors who are considering rising immediate returns from their real estate hoards. Generally, in Dubai when you invest in buy-to-let ready property the net returns average around 6 to 7 percent and some places it upsurges to 9 per-

When you invest in buy-to-let ready property, the net returns average around 6 to 7 percent. But this very much counts on the property selection, quality, and its location....

cent even. But this very much counts on the property selection, quality, and its location. So, before investing, a buyer should do the calculation and should structure the deal in such a manner that in the long-term it gives high rental yield. In Dubai, the Land Department looks after all the property registration and has a centralised database where all the property owners’ facts get stored. Once the property is enumerated, a titledeed gets issued under the name of the owner by Dubai Land Department. To guard the owner’s right tenancy contract is registered with the RERA and the rental cheques get delivered under the owner’s name. In UAE, ready houses are the most ideal investments as there is no waiting period and banks are offering reasonable lending ratios. Currently, banks are offering finance up to 75 percent of the property value for UAE expats. However, Loan-toValue (LTV) ratios can fluctuate contingent on the buyer’s investment profile and the

constraints. The procedure takes about three to four working days to get the preapproval. Buy-to-let could be a smart scheme for investors who are looking for an instantaneous cash flow, but ready properties are usually excessive than off-plan and come with a little added cost to buyers. But overall it derives with reduced risk as compared to other asset portfolios. Off-plan properties are those under construction and it appears more gratifying for real estate investors who forestalls for a healthier return in line with the market movement. Currently, we are witnessing an aggressive movement in this category of investment, as many developers are announcing their units and it outshone due to its affordability, flexible payment structure, combined with the promotional strategies by developers, which persuaded the investors to benefit from the opportunity. In off-plan properties, investment is considered more capricious, than ready units around the world. However, in Dubai to secure the buyer’s interest in the offplan purchase, there are number of laws and regulations put in place by the government. Off-plan investments are registered with the Land Department and Oqood gets issued to the owner which confirms that the property belongs to the individual investor. Banks in Dubai, do mortgage off-plan projects but considering the uneven conditions, the Central Bank mortgage regulations have set the maximum 50 per cent LTV on the property being purchased off-plan irrespec-

OPINION

DHIREN GUPTA

Managing Director 4C Mortgage Consultancy

tive of category, project or the value. Most banks are offering mortgage funding to those developments which are registered with renowned developer and to some selected projects lofted by private developers. Therefore, it’s prudent to find out with the banks if planning to mortgage your off-plan investment to evade any future risk. Henceforth, determining either of the two will certainly give the recompensing yields. Consulting with the industry expert would be an added advantage as they have acquaintance in dealing with several projects from different developers, hence can advise on projects options which will match the criterion. The investment in real estate is uniquely based upon investor’s requisite and predilections, so do proper due diligence and look around for projects that fit into your pecuniary strategy alongside fulfills your longterm investment yield and the capital appreciation. g Gulf Property

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NEWSUPDATE

Dubai reinstates 20% equity rule for projects

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Gulf Property Exclusive

ubai Land Department has recently stressed that property developers will continue to be required to ensure 20 percent equity payment before launching sales and marketing campaign, shifting from an earlier stand that specified developers to ensure 50 percent equity in place before a project could be promoted. In a latest statement, Dubai

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Gulf Property

Land Department (DLD) confirmed the original 20 percent equity investment by property developers before they could kick-start sales and marketing activities of a project. The DLD said, it is monitoring the sales or marketing activities of Dubai’s real estate projects is subject to specific laws under the control of the Real Estate Regulatory Agency at DLD. “All developers must commit to the completion of 20 per cent of the project or deposit the specified percentage in the Real Estate Escrow Account, which

amounts to 20 percent of the total value of the projects they intend to launch in the near future,” Sultan Butti bin Mejren, Director-General of DLD, said in a statement. “These procedures are designed to guarantee the rights of investors. DLD regulates the sale, purchase and marketing process to ensure the rights of all parties involved and spread the rules and regulations of the Dubai real estate market among investors in Dubai,” he said. However, this is nearly an about turn from the directives sent out to the developer

community on putting mandatory 50 percent equity of the property value in escrow account. Late last year, the DLD had asked developers to put 50 percent equity for all new projects to be approved, as a new condition, that analysts felt would have eliminated new developers entering the market and make others generate extra cash before they submit the project proposal. Bin Mejren highlighted that there has been an optimistic mood in market since the beginning of 2018, and added that there is a strong demand


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DLD and DED to strengthen compliance

ubai Land Department and the Department of Economic Development (DED) said both the departments of Dubai Government have created a mechanism to monitor and inspect real estate facilities and for greater compliance. The move creates a mechanism for the government authorities to take action against real estate developers, property managers, facilities managers in case of complaints and grievances lodged by property buyers and tenants and fix those problems. The Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection (CCCP) arm of the DED will carry out regular inspection of real estate facilties approved by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), the regulatory arm of Dubai Land Department (DLD) to see any violation of the approved projects and undertake appropriate measures from developers to deposit the 20 percent escrow of the total value of the future projects they intend to launch, as it enhances investor confidence in real estate development projects. Bin Mejren commented “There is a strong coordination among all relevant government institutions including Dubai Land Department, as well as between developers and various parties in the market, to establish confidence among investors and achieve the highest degree of transparency in Dubai’s real estate market.” Bin Mejren also confirmed

and to check if the property buyers’ grievances, if any, are met. While the Land Department and RERA are involved in land transactions and regulating the real estate sector, the DED through its consumer protection arm handle all public and consumer complaints. The new mechanism gives the DED to undertake actions relating to consumer complaints and inspect and fix any issues and problems in building construction and facilities. The DLD has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the DED on establishing a mechanism for monitoring and inspecting real estate facilities licensed by RERA. Under the agreement, the CCCP will monitor and inspect real estate facilities licensed by RERA to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The MoU was signed by Marwan bin Ghalita, CEO of RERA, and Mohammed Ali Rashid Lootah, CEO of CCCP. Marwan bin Ghalita said: “The signing of the memorandum, which authorises that project audit procedures help to achieve these goals, in addition to the escrow provided by the developer, which amounts to 20% of the total project value to be developed. Developers are required to verify ownership of the project and pay its value in full, in addition to receiving all approvals from the competent authorities.

Valuation

Meanwhile, Dubai Land Department said, it has conducted 8,173 real estate valuations worth over Dh287 billion — the highest value

CCCP to carry out the field inspections of real estate companies, stems from our keenness to ensure compliance with the laws and legislations for the practice of real estate activities. This agreement will contribute to the realisation of DLD’s vision to establish transparency and accountability in order to preserve the rights of all parties in a safe environment that operates under regulations and legislation respected by all.” “This will establish an atmosphere of trust in the real estate market.” Mohammed Ali Rashid Lootah commented: “The CCCP is keen to provide an economic environment suitable for competitive economic activity in Dubai.” Under the MoU, the two parties will coordinate to issue and impose fines in the case of any violation of the regulations in force. DLD will provide all the data and information necessary for inspection, supervision and follow-up of the licensed real estate facilities, and CCCP will organise awareness campaigns for the targeted parties in the first phase. g ever recorded — in 2017. According to a report issued by Taqyeem, Dubai’s Real Estate Appraisal Centre, valuations are done for a variety of reasons such as: investor visas, gifted transfer, auction sales, zakat calculations, sale estimates, and company annual audits. Customers include private owners, develpers and government entities. Sultan Butti bin Mejren, Director General of DLD, commented: “Taqyeem relies on the data and information available in DLD’s records, and operates according to advanced standards for val-

NEWSUPDATE

uation. The Center’s valuation work is undertaken with meticulous attention to accuracy, transparency and professionalism, which reflects DLD’s outstanding performance in providing customer services.” DLD’s work is governed by the International Valuation Standards Council (IVSC) that is the world-governing body for valuation. Property valuation complements many other activities, and helps gauge the growth of investments. Accurate and regular valuations help prevent random prices in the market which leads to reduced speculation. The valuation contributes to the organisation and management of land values and supports the supply and demand equation, which is used by Dubai’s Rental Dispute Centre to issue judgments based on confirmed figures issued by specialised entities. Developers can also benefit from the findings of the valuation committee to make well-thought out market presentations, ensuring that they create campaigns based on reasonable longdistance pricing forecasts. g Gulf Property

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NEWSUPDATE

Indians invest Dh83.6 bn in Dubai’s real estate

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ndian nationals, who form the largest foreign investor group in Dubai’s real estate, have bought properties worth Dh83.65 billion in the last five years – from 2013 to 2017 – in Dubai’s property sector, according to statistics by Dubai Land Department. They invested Dh15.6 billion in Dubai’s real estate in 2017, Dh12 billion in 2016 and Dh20 billion in 2015 – their highest in a year, according to Dubai Land Department. Indian nationals form the largest expatriate population in the UAE and they are also

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the largest foreign owners of business establishments in the country. The announcement comes a few weeks after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the UAE from February 10-11 more than two years after historic announcement by the UAE to invest up to US$75 billion in to Indian economy. Indian businessmen also own some of Dubai’s large real estate companies, such as Sobha LLC, Danube Properties, Gemini Property Developers, Indigo Properties, Rocky Real Estate, City Tower Real Estate among

many others. “Indian nationals are the largest group of foreign investors in Dubai’s real estate and as both the UAE and India strengthen strategic relationship, we see a greater synergy and increased investment by the Indian nationals in the UAE,” Dawood Al Shezawi, Head of the Organising Committee of Dubai Property Festival, said. “The majority of the property brokers, a number of property developers have been contributing to the growth of our economy.” Dubai Land Department recorded 69,069 real estate

transactions with a total value exceeding Dh285 billion (US$77.6 billion) in 2017, including Dh107 billion (US$29.15 billion) investment by 39,480 investors through 52,958 billion – more than 65 percent of which is by foreign investors. The overall value of the land transaction of Dubai, worth Dh285 billion is higher than the GDP of 144 countries in the world – according to the list of 211 countries prepared by the United Nations. “As UAE-India relationship strengthens, Dubai Land Department also deepens its


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Dubai Property Festival

ubai Land Department launches the Real Estate Investment Week, Dubai Property Festival that will host a wide range of activities for knowledge-sharing, networking and property transactions. It is positioned to be one-of-a-kind property bonanza for buyers and sellers to interact, explore and purchase from a wide collection of the most popular projects in Dubai, invest and get the best deals. Dubai Property Festival will gather the top real estate developers, property brokers, government authorities, banks, mortgage providers, legal service providers, auction houses, real estate professionals, valuation professionals, investors and home buyers all in one place. Dubai Property Festival will also host Mega Property Sale – that will create a massive amount of excitement among the property buyers who would be spoilt for choices due to heavy discounts and special offers exclusively for buyers at the event. Dubai Property Festival is slated to be an annual property sales festival where the real estate community gathers in one place to network and find the best investment opportunities in the property market. The event provides an ideal platform for investors/home buyers looking for their dream property and the perfect opportunity for exhibitors to showcase and sell their commercial and residential projects. g

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Indian investment in to Dubai’s real estate sector

engagement with Indian economy to help create a win-win situation for all stakeholders,” Dawood Al Shezawi says. “We have put India in our global map of increased interaction and have been supporting the Indian Property Show in Dubai while also organising Dubai Property Show in Mumbai – the commercial capital of India.” Indian nationals are expected to remain at the forefront of the a three-day mega property sale activities at the Dubai Property Festival, taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 9-11,

s the largest expatriate community, the size of the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) population in the UAE is close to three million, nearly a third of the UAE’s 9 million population. They are also the largest group of business owners and collectively employ the largest number of people in the UAE. Indian investment in the UAE, especially in real estate also reflects the community’s dominant presence and position as they are the largest foreign investor group by nationality in Dubai’s real estate market. Year 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Total

Investment Dh17.93 billion Dh18.12 billion Dh20 billion Dh12 billion Dh15.6 billion Dh83.65 billion g

2018 – where most participating developers, brokers, banks, mortgage providers and financial institutions – are expected to launch mega discounts on onsite property sale and auction, overseen by Dubai Land Department.

Dubai Property Festival, a real estate business-to-consumer (B2C) sales event, will coincide with a series of global events aimed at attracting inward investment in to the UAE. The three-day festival is expected to wit-

NEWSUPDATE

ness a flurry of buying and selling activities to be participated by hundreds of participants – property developers, brokers, lenders, mortgage providers, investors and home buyers. The first of its kind purely sales and purchase event will help stimulate the emirate’s buoyant real estate sector that has witnessed Dh285 billion worth of transaction in 2017. The initiative undertaken by Dubai Land Department in partnership with International Property Show, is part of the Department’s on-going efforts to support the real estate sector and create a winwin situation for all the stakeholders – the developer community, brokers, property buyers, investors, banks and mortgage lenders. Most of Dubai’s residential stock of 490,000 homes is occupied by Indian expatriate population. Indian expatriates mostly rent homes although tens of thousands of freehold homes are also owned by Indian nationals. Indian buyers are likely to be the major participants are the event as many Indian residents would now consider buying homes due to attractive prices. We expect to see greater footfalls by NRIs at the Dubai Property Show this year,” Dawood Al Shezawi says. Dubai Property Festival could help more and more people buy residential properties for their stay as well as investment purpose. g Gulf Property

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Sharjah Waterfront City: Miami of the East COVERSTORY

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Gulf Property Exclusive

harjah Waterfront City, the Dh25 billion beachfront mixeduse master-planned community that will host 60,000 residents, 95 towers, 1,500 villas and townhouses, a large regional shopping mall and a water theme park spread on eight natural islands, has started the construction of the Phase 1 of the massive project. Construction of the Phase I that involves developing 321 villas on Sun Island comes following the completion of the infrastructure work that involves the construction of the canals, creating water navigation system for seamless movement of seawater, environmental engineering, installation of geotextiles for protecting the natural beach and waterfront sedimentation, utility station for uninterrupted power supply of up to 700 megawatts of power. Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Co., a Sharjah-based developer of the Dh25 billion Sharjah Waterfront City (SWFC) – the largest mixed-use master-planned waterfront community in the Northern Emirates, also announced the launch of construction activities of its Phase I worth Dh3 billion.

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“Our strategy is to develop sustainable development projects. The decision to build Sharjah Waterfront City comes after identifying the needs of all segments of the society. It is a unique mixed-use waterfront city with significant commercial and tourism impact on the emirate’s economy.

– Sultan Al Shakrah CEO of Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Co. LLC

The landmark announcement comes as Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Co., hands over two power transmission and distribution plants, built with a cost of Dh250 million and with its own resources to ensure uninterrupted supply of up to

700 megawatt (MW) electricity – enough to power the entire urban waterfront community where more than 60,000 people are expected to live, work and enjoy life when complete. Billed as ‘Ajmal Makan’ which in Arabic means – the most beautiful destination – Sharjah Waterfront City is the UAE’s best kept-secret and once completed, will be the Miami of the East – with a marina hosting 800 berth for luxury yachts and boats with a water theme park at the back-drop – creating a perfect city where people can live, work, shop, dine and entertain themselves. Being developed in an empty patch of desert landscape with a pristine beach facing the Arabian Gulf between Hamriyah Town and Umm Al Quwain, the city, when built, will be tucked in a relatively quiet and serene location where visitors could take refuge in any of the 14 hotels and resorts that are being built. Sheikh Abdullah Al Shakrah, Chairman of Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Co., last month formally handed over the power transmission and distribution plants to Dr Rashid Alleem, Chairman of


COVERSTORY Sultan Al Shakrah, Chief Executive Officer of Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Co

Gulf Property

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COVERSTORY

Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA). This is one of the first such developments where the private developer has built its own such large power distribution and transmission plant and handed over the assets to the state-owned public utility, SEWA. This marks the completion of one of the most important infrastructure milestones – to ensure adequate and uninterrupted power supply to the city’s residents and businesses. “I am pleased to announce the completion of Dh3 billion worth of infrastructure works

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within Sharjah Waterfront City, including removal of 12 million cubic metres of sand to dig 3.5 metres deep canals with width spanning 100-300 metres and create eight islands within the landscape that helped us to create 20 kilometres of new coastline and beachfront properties,” Sheikh Abdullah Al Shakrah, Chairman of Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Co, said. “As part of the infrastructure projects, we have moved and installed 5 million tonnes of rocks to create breakwater and marina quays and the protection of

water channels, in addition to the construction of bridges, roads and power transmission and distribution plants, which cost Dh250 million.” Describing Sharjah Waterfront City – Ajmal Makan that in Arabic means the ‘most beautiful destination on earth’ – Abdullah Al-Shakrah, compared the project as a precious pearl within a huge shell. “It is a city within a city and features integrated facilities where people can live, work and relax shop, dine and enjoy the best lifestyle. Sharjah Waterfront City stretches over 60 million square feet of

the Gulf's pristine coastline, making it an ideal destination for residents and tourists,” he said. Sharjah Waterfront City is an attractive destination for permanent living and recreation. It is a clean, pollutionfree city with world-class facilities, charming beaches, shopping and entertainment in every neighbourhood, and its moderate weather throughout the year. A series of eight islands, flowing between the natural channels spread over 36 kilometres of coastal land on the north-east coast of Sharjah, where clean and pure


COVERSTORY

Artist’s impression of Sharjah Waterfront City – Ajmal Makan – the most beautiful destination

blue seawater is renewed in its channels every 12 hours, in line with the high and low natural tide coming from the Arabian Gulf, where the city is designed to the highest standards and specifications in cooperation with the world's largest specialised companies. Earlier, Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Co, had appointed Tech Group to construct the Phase 1 of the project, which is currently going onsite with show villas expected to be ready in a few months. Tech Group has put the project on a fast-track construction, deploying pre-cast

offsite construction technology that offers a faster and cost-effective construction solution. Sultan Al Shakrah, Chief Executive Officer of Sharjah Waterfront City, said, “The appointment of Tech Group and deploying the pre-cast offsite construction process will ensure a faster delivery of the high-quality finishing and lower construction cost that we will be able to pass it on the clients. “This demonstrates our strong commitment to Sharjah and the UAE in developing economies and adding value to the overall society.”

Further elaborating on the quality of the villa design, environment and construction, Al Shakrah said: "Our strategy is to develop sustainable development projects in Sharjah. The decision comes after conducting a thorough study of the market and identifying the needs of all segments of society. Sharjah Waterfront City, which is a unique mixed-use waterfront city of its kind in the emirate, has significant economic, commercial and tourism impact on the emirate’s economy. “We have spent considerable time in developing the

infrastructure – the base of the project – so that the buildings and structures stand on solid ground. We have also spent a large pool of resources on the environmental engineering, especially installing geo-textiles to ensure that the ground water, embankment and the beach and waterflow remains constant and natural, protecting the environment. “Sun Island’s 321 villas offer a freedom to the residents – there’s more life outdoor than indoor.” So far, 20 per cent of the works have already been accomplished by Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Co., even before the commercial launch of the project. These include the construction of the canals, physical infrastructure, power infrastructure, internal roadways, bridges, breakwater barriers for water circulation, installation of geo-textiles for environmental protection, detail design and piling and shoring works of the villas. The villas on Sun Island have been designed as intelligent buildings keeping in mind the future lifestyle – smart living and artificial intelligence and robotics as well – where a lot of things will be controlled through smart devices. Tech Group has already mobilised resources and building the show villas ahead of the commercial launch of the Phase I. In an exclusive interview with the Gulf Property, Sultan Al Shakrah, Chief Executive Officer of Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Company, elaborated his thoughts. Excerpts: Gulf Property: What is your view of the economy of the GCC and the UAE? What is the outlook for the real estate sector in the GCC? Gulf Property

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COVERSTORY

Artist’s impression of Sharjah Waterfront City. Each villa comes with a beach

Sultan Al Shakrah: With oil price rebounding, we expect the governments to increase spending in infrastructure and public housing – that is going to help the economies of the Gulf countries to accelerate faster. Oil price which rose to UA$70 a barrel is now hovering around US$60-65 a barrel – that gives the governments of the GCC countries extra cash to invest in large infrastructure projects that will create more business for the private sector and create employment that in turn will create additional demand for housing.

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So, we are going to see an exciting time for all of ahead and that’s why the development of Sharjah Waterfront City is very timely and will help host more businesses, families and help stabilise the real estate market in future.

The economic growth pace has slowed down in the GCC region. How do you see the current economic landscape impacting your own project development? Regardless of global and regional developments and the oil price, the economy will continue to grow, although at

a slow pace. Even if the current oil price does not hold for long, we have put in contingencies for development. It is a sustainable development – and it will sustain regardless of external factors. However, we have factored all the possible negative developments that might affect the development of the project. The project will progress as planned and you can see the construction activities – well ahead of the commercial sales launch that reflects the level of our strong commitment to the project.

The emirate of Sharjah has already seen a flurry of new projects being launched by new masterdevelopers. How do you compete with them in getting the attention of the investors? There is enough room for all the projects to come to fruition. Master-planned community development by private developers is new in Sharjah. Besides, there is a strong demand for gated communities within master-planned townships in Sharjah. The demand is enough for all of us to share the pie.


At A Glance

Dh25 billion development value of Sharjah Waterfront City

Dh9.5 billion

project value of the Phase I of Sharjah Waterfront City

60,000

people will live within the Sharjah Waterfront City

Dh3 billion

spent to develop the infrastructure of SWFC

Dh250 million spent to built to utility station to supply 700MW electricity

1,500

villas to be built on 7 of the 8 islands at the SWFCity

95 Towers

will grace the skyline of Sharjah Waterfront City

800

No. of berths at Sharjah Waterfront City marina

What is the total development value of Sharjah Waterfront City? Is it the largest master-development in Sharjah by value? The project’s total development value with the updated master-plan and additional features would take the project’s overall development value to around Dh25 billion. In terms of development value, we believe Sharjah Waterfront City is the largest development in the emirate of Sharjah. However, more than its size, what is important is the location and the value proposition. We are not just creat-

ing a piece of real estate or just a community. It’s the only greenfield master-planned beachfront community with a marina facility between Dubai Marina and Ras Al Khaimah. Once completed, it will be a most sought-after destination, where people will come to live, work, shop, dine, entertained or just to swim or get wet at the water theme park. We are building a beautiful waterfront city – Ajmal Makan – which will be compared to some of the best waterfront locations in the west, such as the Palm Beach or Miami Beach or the

beachfront properties in Santa Barbara or Los Angeles!

Why do you think people would buy properties at Sharjah Waterfront City – so far away from the city centre? Our unique selling points (USPs) include the fact that it is a mixed-use masterplanned waterfront city with a marina, a theme park with residential communities – are well segregated amongst seven interconnected islands. The location of the Sharjah Waterfront City is one of its

COVERSTORY best-kept secrets and forms part of its USPs. Located away from the hustle and bustle of the busy urban lifestyle, SWFC provides an ideal hideout for residents and visitors – who could swim on the Arabian Gulf waters without having to go to the Arabian Gulf. Instead, fresh Gulf waters circulated every 12 hours during the change from low- to hightides when the fresh waters enter the SWFC. Sharjah Waterfront City is a complete and fully integrated city with shopping, dining, community and entertainment facilities, in addition to residential, commercial, retail, hospitality and tourism facilities. People can live, work, shop, dine and enjoy life within Sharjah Waterfront City, without having to go out for basic needs.

Could you give some updates on the infrastructure works within the SWFC? Yes, sure. I am pleased to inform you that we have now completed the massive infrastructure works at the Sharjah Waterfront City at a cost of Dh3 billion so far. The infrastructure works include all internal roadworks, canal digging and water navigation to ensure clear water circulation, installation of stone blocks, geo-textiles, bridges, culverts, utility projects and all major components of the infrastructure works The completion of the infrastructure works will go a long way to reassure our valued investors and property buyers of continuous power and water supply and this also marks our readiness to develop the SWFC components one by one. We are now ready for the massive engineering and construction Gulf Property

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COVERSTORY

activities that will change part of landscape of the area and create new economic opportunities and employment for many young people, including emiratis. Developed at a cost of Dh250 million, the utility plant is part of the major infrastructure projects undertaken by Sharjah Oasis to prepare the grounds for the main construction projects of the Phase I of Sharjah Waterfront City involving villas, a central business district and retail facilities, together worth Dh9.5 billion

How many islands are you

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developing? There will be a total of eight well-designed and masterplanned islands including one hosting a water theme park and one with a marina.

Is it a freehold project – for all expatriates, including non-Arabs? Yes, it is. The land ownership law in Sharjah extends freehold property ownership to GCC nationals, Arab expatriates in parts of the city as well as leasehold to nonArab expatriates. However, for the nonArabs, a special sales and purchase document will be in

place by Sharjah Waterfront City – mandated by the local authorities – for them to own the asset they invest in for 99 years, which is as good as freehold development.

When complete, what would be the built-up area, as per the current masterplan? As it stands, the total built-up area is expected to be around 60 million square feet as per the master-plan. When do you expect the whole project to be completed? It all depends on the overall

regional economic developments and other external factors. However, the project could be completed in phases by 2030.

Will this be a gated community? How will people from outside access the project’s public facilities, such as shopping, beachfront areas and marina? Yes and no. The residential communities, especially the villa communities within the islands will be gated. However, all other open and public areas will be open to the public – such as the retail outlets, promenade,


COVERSTORY How many high-rise and mid-rise buildings will be developed? Sharjah Waterfront City has a design capacity to develop 95 high-rise towers. However the number of towers could change as we progress, depending on if there are higher demand for towers.

How many residential units will the project host, once completed? We expect to deliver more than 15,000 residential units in total. However the numbers could change depending on the height of the high-rise towers and how the thirdparties plan their projects. How many villas and townhouses will the project have, once completed? More than 1,500 villas and townhouses spread in seven islands. Artist’s impression of villas on one of the eight islands of Sharjah Waterfront City with each having its own private beach

shopping arcade, shopping mall and hotels.

When complete, what would be the size of the total population living in the project? More than 60,000 people will be living within the project as residents. However, the daytime population that includes the working population, visitors, tourists, diners, hotel guests, etc, will be much higher.

Would you develop the full project? Will the thirdparty developers be allowed to build part of the

project – such as residential, commercial, retail and other elements of the project? As a project master-developer and owner, we own the full land parcel and are responsible for the overall development of the community. However, since it’s a large mix-use development, the third-party developers will have the opportunity to choose from a number of projects – such as residential towers, commercial towers, hotels, retail outlets, shopping malls, etc. We expect other developers to take advantage of the

economic opportunities being created by us at the Sharjah Waterfront City.

Since it’s a waterfront community, will you have a marina? What would be the berthing capacity of boats and yachts? Yes, of course. The berthing capacity is flexible and will depend on the number of boat-owners wanting to position their boats, yachts, etc. However, there won’t be any shortage of berthing space. Sharjah Waterfront City Marina will have a capacity of more than 800 berths.

How many commercial towers will be there at the project? The master-plan makes provision for a number of commercial towers among the 95 designated plots for high-rise towers. The number will depend on the demand-supply situation as the project’s development progresses over the next few years. How many hotels will the project host? There are provisions for at least 14 hotels and resorts. Again, the number is not cast in stone and might change in future.

What is the size of the retail development? How many retail outlets do you plan to have within the community? There will be a large regional Gulf Property

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COVERSTORY Sultan Al Shakrah, Chief Executive Officer of Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Co

shopping mall with the number of outlets could range anywhere from 300 to 500. Besides, a separate shopping arcade will also be developed within the Sharjah Waterfront City.

Will there be a shopping mall? How big will it be? How many stores do you plan to have in the mall? Yes. The number of outlets and food and beverage outlets will be determined later.

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Would your organisation develop the shopping mall – or will you sell the plot to third-party developer to build the shopping mall? We will develop the shopping mall.

Will there be a theme park? Could you elaborate some facts about the theme park? Yes. One of the islands have been earmarked for a water park – with a number of rides

to keep the tourists busy throughout the day. It will be developed and operated by Crystal Lagoons.

How much money are you planning to invest as a master-developer in the overall project? We are fully committed to deliver the total project, whatever it costs. So, the amount is not important here. What matters is our determination and our

ability to deliver it in phases. A lot of this will depend on how much of the development work is undertaken by the third-party developers – who will then invest in their own projects and this will then reduce our investment. How much money did your company invest in designing, infrastructure works – digging canal, earthwork, electricity so far? A lot of money has been in-


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Sharjah Waterfront City

harjah Waterfront City (SWFC) is the largest mixed-use master-planned waterfront community in Sharjah – the third largest state within the UAE federation. The project, being developed by Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Co. LLC, is part of the economic vision of the Government of Sharjah to develop the emirate’s tourism industry to attract a large number of regional and international tourists who value sun, sand, culture and family tourism. With an estimated development value of Dh25 billion (US$6.8 billion), the project will see the development of more than 95 high-rise towers, 1,500 villas and townhouses, 14 hotels and serviced apartment complexes, two large shopping malls, a water theme park, a marina with a capacity of 800 berths – all within eight carefully designed islands – with 36 kilometres of waterfront beaches for residents and visitors to explore. Once completed, the project covering an area exceeding 60 million square feet, will host more than 60,000 residents, many of whom will live, work and shop within the integrated, sustainable and green community.

Sharjah Waterfront City Fact-Sheet Name of the Project Developer of the Project Type of the Project Project Components Development Value Project Finance No of Islands Development Area Waterfront/Beach No of Villas No of Towers No of Hotels Population Marina Capacity Internal mobility Power Supply Landscape Ratio Phase I Project

: Sharjah Waterfront City : Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Co. LLC : Mixed-used master-planned waterfront community : Residential, Commercial, Retail, Hospitality and Entertainment : In excess of Dh25 billion : Invest Bank, Sharjah Islamic Bank :8 : 60 million square feet as per the master-plan : 36 kilometres : 1,500 Villas and Townhouses : 95 Mid-rise and High-rise Towers : 14 Hotels and Serviced Apartments : 60,000 – when completed : 800 berths for boats and luxury yachts : Paved roads and a tram network : Up to 700 MW : 60% Landscape: 40% Civil Structures : 499 Plots in Sun Island and Thuraya Islands and a Business District with 24 Towers Phase I Project Value : Dh9.5 billion Phase I Area : 4.5 million square feet of land Phase I Built-up Area : 16.6 million square feet Construction of Phase I : Started on-site Construction Milestones : Completed structuring of canals and eight islands, geo-thermal and environmental engineering, electrical transmission, distribution and substation, bridges interconnecting the islands, piling and shoring of Sun Islands. g vested by Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Co. LLC. The utility plant itself was built with Dh250 million. Then the digging of the canal, installation of the geotextiles, earthworks, ensuring the water circulation, internal roadworks, building bridges to connect the islands to the mainland, etc cost us a lot. Infrastructure cost us Dh3 billion.

How are you going to fi-

nance the project? A combination of sales proceeds, self-financing, debt and equity will be used to fund the Sharjah Waterfront City.

Will you borrow money from the banks? Yes. The project will be financed through a combination of debt and equity.

When are you going to start the construction of

the Phase I? Following the completion of the infrastructure, contractor Tech Group has already started working on the ground. Tech Group is currently developing the show villas on Sun Islands that will be ready in a few months. How much are you going to invest in the Phase I of the project? It depends on how the sales

COVERSTORY

activities progress. If the sales activities generate enough cash flow to cover the construction cost as we progress, we might not need to invest more than what we have done already.

When do you expect the construction of Phase I to be completed? Within a year, hopefully, if things progress as planned.

You launched the project more than 10 years ago as Al Nujoom Island. Why did it take such a long time to start the project’s construction? A project of such magnitude requires a lot of planning, preparations and detailed designing of the projects. As I have mentioned in my previous answer, we spent a lot of time in environmental engineering, installation of geo-textiles, infrastructure, power and utility supplies – all takes a lot of time. The global financial crisis on 2008 created a setback and like all other projects, we also waited till the dust settled. However, over the last few years, we have completed the master-plan, plot zoning, infrastructure, made provisions for the power and clean water supply. How confident are you in delivering the project? We are very confident and very excited on delivering the project on time. g Gulf Property

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SMARTCITY

Dubai pushes ahead Smart City projects

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Gulf Property Exclusive

wo UAE cities – Abu Dhabi and Dubai – are leading global rankings in the Middle East on a number of indicators that reflect that both the cities are ahead of others to become smart cities. Abu Dhabi ranked 64th while Dubai ranked 66th in the IESE Cities in Motion Index 2017 and becomes the top two cities in the Middle East ahead of others in the smart cities ranking. Dubai ranked 5th while Abu Dhabi ranked 6th in the world

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in public (service) management category in the same ranking. One of the recent initiatives undertaken by Dubai Government is the Dubai Data part of the Smart Dubai Initiative - that will change the way city progresses ahead. Big data is one of the key components of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industries 4.0) and will play a key role in transform a urban society into a Smart City. The Dubai Data initiative, led by the Dubai Data Establishment and decreed by the Dubai Data Law of 2015, is the single most comprehensive city-wide data initiative guiding the opening and sharing of city data across

the public and private sector. "Our aim is not to have the most data, but to unleash the greatest value from data, creating new opportunities and improved experiences for all,” HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said in a statement. Dubai Data will stimulate a new data economy for the city, unlocking opportunities and ultimately enriching quality of life for all Dubai stakeholders, including government departments, private organisations, investors, residents and visitors. Osman Sultan, Chief Executive Officer, Emirates Inte-

grated Telecommunication Company du, says, “As we continue to experience rapid change across our global communities through digital disruption, it is our role as an ICT leader to leverage and harness this great opportunity for progress. “This tsunami of data can be shaped by our trusted expertise so we can learn and grow together. Our flourishing partnership with Smart Dubai is producing data-driven insights that are reducing complexity throughout our great city, one of the elements driving towards the 10X Dubai initiative. Here at EITC, we focus on getting the balance right between the technology and the


SMARTCITY “This tsunami of data can be shaped by our trusted expertise so we can learn and grow together. Our flourishing partnership with Smart Dubai is producing datadriven insights that are reducing complexity throughout our great city, one of the elements driving towards the 10X Dubai initiative.

Osman Sultan, Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co. (Du)

– Osman Sultan CEO of Du

human, social, ethical and economic variables too, nowhere is this seen more clearly than in our Smart City deployment here in Dubai.” Data is emerging as a significant economic force across the globe, as the exchange of information becomes more critical to sustained global positioning across every sector, from economy to healthcare to government. Today, the global exchange of data and information generates more economic value than the global goods trade, according to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report.

At the city level, data has a proven track record of generating significant economic impact: cities that have adopted public sector opendata policy report direct impact to GDP of approximately 1%. New York is once again the world's ‘smartest’ city, according to the IESE Cities in Motion Index 2017, which analyses all aspects that make up sustainability and quality of life in 180 key world cities. London takes the second spot, followed by Paris. This is the fourth edition of the Cities in Motion Index, which is prepared by the

IESE Center for Globalisation and Strategy, under the direction of professors Pascual Berrone and Joan Enric Ricart. To compile the index, the authors analyse 79 indicators across 10 different dimensions of urban life: the economy, technology, human capital, social cohesion, international outreach, the environment, mobility and transportation, urban planning, public administration and governance. The results show that almost all of the dimension measured in the ranking are led by European and North

American cities. The exception is technology, where Taipei reigns. The ranking aims to be a tool for mayors, city managers, companies and interest groups that want to improve the quality of life of city residents. Studying the most advanced cities in each category provides a source of inspiration to identify best practices for more innovation, sustainability, equity and connectedness. Globally, two-thirds of the population are expected to reside in cities in 2050, although this level of urban population is already a reality Gulf Property

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SMARTCITY Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority is testing flying taxis to shuttle passengers to beat traffic

in many geographic areas. And while this trend of agglomeration in cities has a series of positive aspects, such as innovation, wealth creation, and economic competitiveness, it also has a dark side – where great global challenges put the sustainability of cities at risk. These challenges include demographic trends, economic aspects, social divisions, and environmental impacts.

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While Dubai races ahead with its Smart City initiative under the Vision 2021, many people still grapple with an acceptable definition of the term – Smart City. The British Standards Institute (BSI) defines the term as “the effective integration of physical, digital and human systems in the built environment to deliver sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future for its citizens.” IBM defines a smart city as “one that makes optimal use of all the interconnected information available today to better understand and control its operations and opti-

mise the use of limited resources”. Cisco defines smart cities as those who adopt “scalable solutions that take advantage of information and communications technology (ICT) to increase efficiencies, reduce costs, and enhance quality of life.” The UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) considers smart cities a process rather than a static outcome, in which increased citizen engagement, hard infrastructure, social capital and digital technologies make cities more liveable, resilient and better able

to respond to challenges. According to the Manchester Digital Development agency, “A ‘smart city’ means ‘smart citizens’ – where citizens have all the information they need to make informed choices about their lifestyle, work and travel options.”

Smart Dubai Initiatives

Dubai Government has started to roll out services under its Smart Dubai Initiative to transform Dubai into a Smart City. As part of the initiatives,


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Towards 5G

various government entities have started testing new technology-driven products, innovations and systems that will solve the teething problems. Dubai Police has been testing robots to deploy across the city to manage traffic and help people. Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is currently testing flying taxis that will shuttle passengers who wants to beat the traffic.

Service 1

A few months ago, HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin

mirates Integrated Telecommunications Co. (Du) is shifting gear towards the fifth generation (5G) telecom network, by selecting Affirmed Networks, the leader in virtualised mobile networks, to deploy its Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) mobile core to provide an industry-leading 3GPP core network for IoT use cases, enabling a wide range of smart city use cases. Affirmed Networks’ NBIoT solution is deployed on du’s fully virtualised native cloud open-stack environment as one of the first in the Middle East. du will also be using Affirmed’s Virtualised Mobile Core, which includes a virtualized WiFi Gateway, to deliver VoWiFi and Fixed Wireless services. This state of the art deployment is 5G-ready with network slicing capability to support du’s vision of a fully virtualised and software defined native cloud core network. Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) is the foundation for achieving efficient carrier-grade solutions. A software-based platform running on standard multicore hardware, NFV plays an important role in achieving high availability, flexibility and service agility. It represents a key technology allowing telecom operators Rashid Al Maktoum, VicePresident and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has launched ‘Service 1’, a smart government service centre equipped artificial intelligence assistants and smart robots to provide over 100 smart for Dubai residents. Service 1 unifies 14 gov-

to move towards 5G with core and edge cloud computing and network slicing, and offers an agile, fast and more efficient model that best serves the operators’ subscribers. Saleem AlBlooshi, Chief Infrastructure Officer, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), said: “Adopting Affirmed Networks NB-IoT core will ensure we have state-ofthe-art 5G ready core network with slicing to serve enterprise as well as consumer use cases. Also, the cooperation in 5G and IoT development is essential to realise UAE leaders’ vision to build the smartest city and to be on top of the technological evolution. Mohammed Shanableh, Affirmed Networks’ Vice President, Global Operations, said, “As one of the innovative operators in the Middle East, du has realised how a virtualised network can dramatically improve both their network economics and service agility. “By embracing new technologies such as NB-IoT, VoWiFi and Fixed LTE, they are now able to add new revenue generating services, while at the same time achieving better network utilization and improving customer quality of experience. We look forward to continue our work with du as they transform their network toward 5G.” g ernment entity services under one roof, providing smart access to more than 100 government services from the Ministry of Interior, Sheikh Zayed Housing programme, Emirates Post Group, Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Ministry of

SMARTCITY

Artificial Intelligence will enable robots to take selfie

Culture and Knowledge Development, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. The centre aims to expedite and centralise access to core government services increase convenience for residents by reducing visits to a single stop. Service 1 will also allow residents to design their own government service experience to focus on their specific needs and goals by deploying the latest technology advancements for personalised service delivery. During the launch, Sheikh Mohammad emphasised that Service 1 will deliver all services in one visit through a single portal. Service 1 will Gulf Property

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also be an open testbed for innovating and improving government service delivery,” he said. “The centre will be a lab for testing all development suggestions proposed by the public. It will feature a platform that bring the public and government together so as to discuss ideas on daily basis. Service 1 is just the beginning for many centers, steps and innovations to come.” He concluded saying by emphasizing continued attention to people’s happiness as the core of the Dubai’s smart city strategy. “We want

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the customer to discover a different, comfortable, flexible and welcoming atmosphere at our service centres where they can complete all services in a single visit, made possible by smart technology.”

Flying Taxis

Could the autonomous aerial taxi (AAT) soon take over the skies of Dubai? RTA’s flying taxies, first unveiled at the World Government Summit in Dubai in February 2016, are one step closer to reality, according to a recent report released by the Dubai Media

Office. The collection of images, released to coincide with the first test-flights of the aerial autonomous taxi gives the world a glimpse of the envision the future for transit in Dubai. RTA has issued test flights that are required to meet a full range of safety and security requirements for this new type of vehicle. "The trial operation of this (flying) taxi will begin gradually in the fourth quarter of 2017.” said a spokesperson from RTA. This flying taxi is intended for two passengers and is fitted with leather seating and

state of the art luxurious interiors. It measures two meters high and seven meters wide. The AAT is fully electric, and is powered by nine independently housed, quick change, and rechargeable batteries. The batteries provide 30 minutes of flying time and take 40 minutes to fully recharge when plugged in. The AAT is equipped with 18 rotors that provide safety during the cruising phase and the critical take off and landing phases. Further safety precautions include a full-aircraft emergency parachute which is de-


SMARTCITY

Artificial Intelligence will empower robots to undertake certain types of routine works done by human beings

“As we continue to experience rapid change across our global communities through digital disruption, it is our role as an ICT leader to leverage and harness this great opportunity for progress...”

– Osman Sultan CEO of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co (Du)

ployed in case of emergency or failure of any one of the 18 rotors. Average cruising speed for the flying taxi is 50kmph which the maximum airspeed is 100kmph. RTA has also signed an agreement with the German Volocopter Company, who specialise in the engineering and production of autonomous aerial vehicles, to partner-up on the launch of the envisioned two seater taxi for Dubai. Projects like the AAT and other autonomous vehicles are helping pave the way for Dubai to become a fully realized smart city of the future

with 25 percent autonomous transportation by 2030.

Du Initiatives

Du successfully tested the first true Internet of Things network (IoT) in the Middle East, a key component of Smart City that will revolutionise how cities and resources are managed. The network can relay data from sensors countrywide, enabling smarter management of a vast array of city resources such as smart street lighting, waste management, and parking. The telecom operator has

deployed 200 hotspots for WiFi UAE and has witnessed phenomenal usage since its launch in May 2015. “We are committed to helping the UAE achieve its Smart City ambitions and are making progress in a number of areas. All of these services will ensure efficiency on cost, as well as reduce environmental and social impact in an increasingly digital and interconnected world,” said a Du statement. “Dubai aims to become a Smart City, and we have planned to finish deployment of our IoT (Internet of Things) network to support this ambi-

tion of the Emirate. We also plan to launch the new WiFi UAE mobile app enabling seamless login, with additional features including hotspot finder, language preference and offers. “Our telco experience, network capability and digital know-how means that we are perfectly positioned to help the Government of the UAE achieve their ambitions of becoming a global Smart City leader. Smart City is our biggest opportunity to enhance the UAE’s position as a global hub for tourism, commerce and as a place to live.” g Gulf Property

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Jyotsna Hedge, President of Sobha LLC

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Sobha to launch mega project in Dubai soon

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Gulf Property Exclusive

obha LLC, developer of mixed-use master-planned communities, will soon announce a large mixed-use project in Dubai, it’s third such venture, Gulf Property has learnt. The new project will be bigger than Sobha Hartland, the Dh15 billion master-planned community project that is currently under development. “We are currently in close

negotiations with a large landowner for the purchase of a large plot of land where we plan to develop another mixed-use master-planned community larger than Sobha Hartland,” Jyotsna Hedge, President of Sobha LLC, told Gulf Property in an exclusive interview. “To put it in the right perspective, Sobha Hartland is spread across 8 million square feet plot of land. The new project will cover more than 10 million square feet space. “This will be our own project that we intend to develop and deliver on our own.

“Real estate is about trust. As a developer, we enjoy the trust of our customers. Going forward, our aim is to build the most trusted brand in real estate in the next three years.” Sobha, which entered the UAE market before the global financial crisis of 2008-10 with four building projects, entered the bigticket master-planned mixeduse development business after the financial crisis with Sobha Hartland in 2011 – when the real estate sector was reeling from the crisis and most developers who survived the crisis, were con-

solidating businesses. However, Sobha at that critical time, launched its most ambitious project as its visionary leader, owner-entrepreneur PNC Menon had ‘seen the top while being at the bottom’. He first bought a patch of empty land and designed the Sobha Hartland mixed-use project with villas, townhouses, residential buildings, commercial towers, schools, shopping arcade, retail units, food and beverage outlets – all laid out in a green landscape – called Sobha Hartland. The new project, yet to be Gulf Property

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“We are currently in close negotiations with a large landowner for the purchase of a large plot of land where we plan to develop another mixed-use master-planned community larger than Sobha Hartland. This will be our own project that we intend to develop and deliver on our own...”

– Jyotsna Hedge President of Sobha

announced, will be the company’s second fully-owned mixed-use project after Sobha Hartland. The company is also developing District One – a Dh30 billion master-planned community – at Mohammed Bin Rashid City through a new development arm, Meydan. Sobha, a 50:50 joint venture with Meydan City Corporation, in addition to Firdous Sobha – a mixed-use island development project in partnership with Umm Al Quwain Government and will be located on an island spread across 500 hectare land.

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Sobha Firdous will be located on Al Seniyah Island, alongside Khor al-Beidah, one of the largest areas of undisturbed coastline in the UAE. The mixed-use project will include around 650 residential units, five hotels, waterways and a golf course. The project will create a new tourism destination in Umm Al Quwain and attract tourists in the island full of theme park rides and entertainment facilities. The price for units will be pegged at an average of Dh500 per square feet. Sales will likely be launched later in the year.

The community will be connected to the mainland via a 1.1-kilometre bridge, work on which will also start by midyear. The project has a development timeframe of 10 years. The company is currently spearheading the development of Sobha Hartland, a mixed-use community strategically located at the junction of Al Khail Road and DubaiAl Ain Highway and opposite of Meydan that is close to Business Bay, Dubai Design District and is expected to be connected to a new rail line. Once completed, its prop-

erties will be amongst the most sought after properties due to its location at the heart of the new ‘centre’ of Dubai. “With a development value of Dh15 billion, we expect to deliver the project by 2021,” she said. Sobha LLC, the regional property developer that has links to Indian developer Sobha Developers, will double property sales in 2018 compared to last year. The company employs 2,000 people including 250 professionals in the management team – of which 100 people


MEGAPR0JECT

“In 2017, we doubled our sales at Sobha Hartland on the previous year and this year, our sales target is double of last year’s sales. Our target is to sell 85 percent of what we will build and 15 percent to rent out, in addition to the retail components...”

– Jyotsna Hedge President of Sobha

are engaged in sales and marketing activities. “In 2017, we doubled our sales at Sobha Hartland on the previous year and this year, our sales target is double of last year’s sales,” Jyotsna Hedge said. She, however, did not divulge the value of sales achieved last year. “We expect to deliver Dh1.7 billion worth of projects this year,” she said. Sobha earlier said, it has sold 50 per cent of whatever has been launched at Hartland. It has plans for a 73storey mixed-use tower –

Sobha Signature – on a waterfront plot in Hartland. These will be furnished apartments that will be managed by a global hotel operator. In order to make the business sustainable, Sobha will retain a portion of the assets for recurring income. “Our target is to sell 85 percent of what we will build and 15 percent to rent out, in addition to the retail components,” Hedge said. Sobha Group traces back its origin in Oman where the group’s founder PNC Menon started his business in 1976

– about 42 years ago – travelling from Kerala with US$50 in his pocket – enough to survive for a few days. However, not only surviving, he later built a business empire gaining public trust through his attention to detail in intricate designs and project management – so much so that Sultan Qaboos’ Palace asked him to develop the grand mosque and a new palace for the Sultan in Muscat. Menon later expanded his business in India by expanding Sobha Developers and

later entering the UAE real estate market with Sobha LLC – now a major player in the country. It added new components to develop a vertically integrated business that created a complete design, development, civil engineering, construction, masonry, joinery, furniture factory, mechanical, electrical and plumbing as well as interiors division within the group. So, when it comes to property development, the group has everything – from design to handover – in-house, that reduces dependency on exGulf Property

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Above: Aerial view of Sobha Hartland, when built completely and Right: A modern villa at Sobha Hartland

ternal contractors. Sobha LLC has recently gone through a management shake-up that saw some key players exiting the company while some of the trusted insiders have been given greater responsibility to look after the overall business including sales, marketing and project development and delivery. The company will deliver 48 villas in June this year. It has recently sold out 50 per cent of the Gardenia cluster of 22 villas. “With prices starting from Dh5 million to Dh30 million – these are luxury and exclusive villas – and therefore takes time to sell,” she ex-

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plains. “The price of our studio apartments start from Dh700,000 – higher than one- and two-bedroom apartments in some projects. We are a high-end developer and our buyers come to us knowing that these are expensive properties and they are ready to pay a premium on our properties. “Our first lot of 160 apartments have all been sold out and we are working on the next two residential apart-

ment buildings, along with villas. “This is due to the trust factor that people have on Sobha projects. Our customers mostly come through good references as they know Sobha for quality and timely delivery.” Last summer, the company launched Estates Forest Villas – a cluster of four- and five-bedroom L-shaped villas, which are available in eight floor plans, will be sur-

rounded by 223,000 square metres of greenery. Once completed, Sobha Hartland will stand out like an oasis in the middle of the new centre of Dubai – a city whose epicentre is constantly changing due to rapid development activities. The landscaping promotes greenery and 30 percent of the overall project will be covered in green features, gardens, green spaces and trees. g


Jyotsna Hedge, President of Sobha

MEGAPR0JECT

Gulf Property

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Binghatti delivers 20 projects worth Dh2.5 bn INTERVIEW

Muhammad Binghatti, Chief Executive Officer and Head of Architecture at Binghatti Holding

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Gulf Property Exclusive

ubai-based property developer Binghatti Developers, which has so far delivered 20 projects with a combined development value exceeding Dh2.5 billion, is adding 20 more projects to its existing portfolio, a top official said. The company recently launched a Dh400 million project – Millennium Binghatti Residences – at the Business Bay. The project will be managed by Millennium Hotels and Resorts once delivered and carries the developer’s signature orange colour-flavoured de-

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sign. “With the ongoing projects that we are currently executing and the ones delivered, our existing property development portfolio value is going to exceed Dh3 billion,” Muhammad Binghatti, Chief Executive Officer and Head of Architecture of Binghatti Holding, the parent company of Binghatti Developers. “In addition to the ongoing projects, we have a land bank of 15 more plots at various locations in Dubai with total size of the land bank exceeding 3 million square feet.” The project, which consists of 230 different residential units including studio, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom apartments, will be completed in the fourth quarter of 2019,

before the launch of the Expo 2020. Price of residential units starts from Dh1,500 per square feet. “Looking at the waterfront property overlooking the canal at the Business Bay, I would say the price of the property is very reasonable as Business Bay is now a very prime and prestigious location and the price will continue to increase as we start constructing it,” he said. Muhammad Binghatti said, property buyers will not have to pay any service charges in the first year. “In the second year, the service charge is fixed at Dh10 per square feet while in the third year onwards, it will be Dh16 per square feet,” he said. The company, part of the

diversified business conglomerate Binghatti Holding, has 250 people working on payroll, including 20 sales person. Binghatti Holding, which owns 10 business entities, employs 1,000 people working on a number of business verticals. “We are a vertically integrated company with all development activities – from design, consultancy to interiors and delivery – we do all in-house except for construction and building materials,” he says. The building offers several hotel-inspired amenities with a plethora of facilities and recreational activities which ensures an enjoyable and prestigious lifestyle. The building also features direct views on the Dubai Water


INTERVIEW

“Our existing property development portfolio value is going to exceed Dh3 billion. In addition to the ongoing projects, we have a land bank of 15 more plots at various locations in Dubai with total size of the land bank exceeding 3 million square feet...”

Millennium Binghatti Residences to be built at Business Bay

Canal and Dubai Skyline. With unit prices starting at Dh625,000, the project is expected to experience an overwhelming interest from end-users attracted to Binghatti Developers’ commitment to premium quality, reasonable pricing, and timely delivery of projects. The building offers premium facilities and means of comfort inspired from the international Millennium Hotels and Resorts such as premium concierge-style services, grocery on demand services, laundry, catering services and many other facilities and means of comfort. In addition to the buildings’ groundbreaking design, Millennium Binghatti Residences’ prime location in the rapidly growing community of Business Bay is seen as one of the main factors for the projects’ success. The location also ensures that residents are just minutes away from major destinations and landmarks of the metropolis such as Downtown Dubai, Dubai Mall, DIFC, Meydan, Dubai Creek Harbour, Dubai International Airport, Kite Beach, Mall of the Emirates, The Palm

Jumeirah, and Dubai Marina. The community has recently experienced a surge of interest for its central location, master planned infrastructure, and attractive rental yields. The area is home to a variety of restaurants, schools, nurseries, parks, and shopping centers. Business Bay is home to progressive young professionals seeking a fast-paced and modern lifestyle within an area comprising a great number of international companies. Muhammad Binghatti says, “The iconic building will prove to be a great asset for savvy investors aware of the large rental revenues and prosperity of this thriving region. This project comprises

a variety of luxurious apartments ensuring comfort and convenience for every resident. “The apartments’ plush interior designs and different means of comfort and recreation inspired from the luxurious “Millennium Hotels and Resorts” ensure a feeling of prestige and uniqueness to the building’s residents as well as their guests “Inspired by the Arab region’s traditions, history, and culture, we have been successful in developing an identifiable and branded visual identity. I am delighted that many people easily identify our contemporary, vibrant, dynamic, and angular architectural style throughout the UAE.”

– Muhammad Binghatti, Chief Executive Officer and Head of Architecture of Binghatti Holding

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Binghatti Developers

inghatti Developers is a Dubaibased real estate developer that offers iconic properties with groundbreaking architectural designs and unrivaled lifestyle amenities and facilities. The company, that traces its origin in 1875, seeks to redefine the norms of the industry by delivering reasonably priced high-quality projects in record times. Within a short timeframe, the developer has proven itself as a viable alternative to some of the larger market players in Dubai, strengthening its reputation with an extensive portfolio of 20 completed projects. Binghatti Developers, the real estate development arm of Binghatti Holding, operates throughout the UAE with an investment value constituting Dh3 billion across a portfolio of more than 30 projects. The company currently operates in several areas throughout Dubai including Business Bay, Dubai Silicon Oasis, Al Jadaf, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Village Circle, Liwan, and Dubai Land Residence Complex, in addition to a mega commercial project in Abu Dhabi covering an area of 1 million square feet. The company possesses bold plans for expansion in the coming years, specifically focusing on the growth of its real-estate portfolio in different areas of Dubai. g

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Millennium Binghatti Residences will be a waterfront property at Business Bay

The company currently operates in several areas throughout Dubai including Dubai Silicon Oasis, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Village Circle, Liwan, and Dubai Land Residence Complex, in addition to a mega commercial project in Abu Dhabi covering an area of 1 million square feet. The company has plans of expansion in the coming years, specifically focusing on the expansion of its real-estate portfolio in Dubai. In an exclusive interview, Muhammad Binghatti, Chief Executive Officer and Head of Architecture of Binghatti Holding, the parent company of Binghatti Developers and ten other companies, touches upon a number of issues, relating to the industry and his company. Excerpts:

Gulf Property: You have developed a distinct architectural design that is visible in almost all the Binghatti Developers’ buildings like a signature with orange colour. Why is that? Muhammad Binghatti: Every architect and design consultant usually creates

his signature design based on certain philosophy or character. As an architect, I have my own thinking behind every creation. Orange is a bright colour and it represents happiness and now people recognise the colour and its close association with our branding. Did you plan this from the first building that you designed? Yes. It was part of my vision as I wanted to implement what I had learnt in the university.

What about energy efficiency in the buildings that you design? In our designs, you will see

that we use the sunlight – solar energy for passive cooling, something that the region’s residents were used to before the electricity or airconditioning was introduced to the people of this region. Our buildings require 30 percent less energy due to the way we use glass on walls and the use of sunlight that requires less electricity to cool homes, especially during winter and spring months.

Who does this design appeal to the most? How is the younger generation accepting this? This design is very popular among the younger generation. In fact, we have a relatively younger professionals buying our properties. Yes, our choice of colour, design and architecture appeals to them more. We don’t see much traditional motifs in your design that could reflect the Arabian heritage and culture. Why? As an architect, I believe in modernity while not loosing certain aspect of the heritage.


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Muhammad Binghatti

s an architect, artist and poet, Muhammad Binghatti sees the potential of art in every aspect of human life. A graduate in architecture from the American University of Sharjah, he has created a distinctive architectural design in all his buildings that could instantly be recognised as his design. Carrying the Binghatti

legacy into its third generation, Muhammad Binghatti is determined to lead the ren-

aissance of property in the region. The Binghatti brand aims to use its projects as a platform to introduce the world to The Art of Property. With Mr. BinGhatti's entrepreneurial approach to leadership, today the real estate development arm of Binghatti Holding, operates throughout the UAE with an investment value constituting Dh3 billion across a portfolio of 30 projects, including its strategic partnership in the Dh1 billion Swarovski Sparkle Towers of Dubai Marina. g

Will you continue with the same style in your design? Yes, this signature colour combination of orange and white with different variation will continue in my future designs. Part of the reasons is that people like it and it is instantly recognisable and it adds to the city’s urban landscape. The projects that you have built and the ones that you are developing now, how did you finance them? We managed project finance mostly from the sales proceeds. Most of our projects were self-funded with no or little support from banks. The Millennium Binghatti Residences project that we have just launched, is also based on the same model and we hope to build it with customers’ payment. However banks are a back-up.

What is your view of the current real estate market in Dubai as the prices of properties appears to be declining? Dubai’s real estate market continues to evolve and it is also a very well regulated market where all the necessary rules are built in. The market will continue to evolve as we move forward

INTERVIEW

heartland of Dubai – the new downtown and very well connected to the two airports and other major attractions. Besides, our project is located on the waterfront. You can’t get anything better than this is this location. It is close to Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall. In addition to that, the Millennium branding has its own value that will offer a higher price once you decide to sell the property. I’m sure, the investors will consider all these factors before making their purchase decision. In this project, you can’t really get this wrong. We have carefully put things together – everything – from design, location to branding, to offer our clients the best.

and demand will come from new international markets as Dubai will continue to remain an attractive place for investment. How confident are you in selling the project off in time? We are very confident for a number of reasons. First of all, its location – Business

Bay – will continue to attract new investment. The project offers 8 per cent return on investment annually. So, even if you are not living in the property, you can recover the investment in less than 13 years – or earlier if you put the rental proceeds in an income-generating scheme. Business Bay is the new

You have set up your head offices and investment arm at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Are you planning to expand through acquisition? Yes, we have an eye on investment as well as acquisition. From here we could also create private equity funds for investment. We are looking at acquisition – but for the right asset and at the right price. g Gulf Property

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Danube raises realty portfolio to Dh3.14 bn

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By Shayaree Islam GP Report

anube Properties, one of the fastestgrowing real estate developers in Dubai, recently launched Jewelz – the developer’s 10th residential project that will add 463 apartments with a development value exceeding Dh300 million and raise its overall development portfolio to 3,628 units worth Dh3.14 billion in less than four years. Construction of the Dh300-

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million project that offers 463 residential units, ranging from studio, one- and twobedroom apartments, is expected to start in three months with completion scheduled at March 2020. Danube Properties, part of the Danube Group, made its foray in to the real estate market in June 2014, by launching the Dh550 million 175 townhouse cluster called Dreamz at Al Furjan. Since then, it has continued to expand its development portfolio by launching hugely successful projects including Dreamz, Glitz Residences I, II and III, Starz Tower, Glamz

Residences, Miraclz Tower, Resortz Residence and Bayz Tower. All of the projects by Danube Properties have enjoyed success. The affordable prices and flexible payment plan offered, combined with the project’s convenient location and ultra-modern facilities, has proved very popular among buyers. The developer, which delivered 302 units in its Glitz 1 and 2, is getting ready for the handover of Dreamz villas and townhouses and Glitz 3 project later this month, part of the Dh1.5 billion worth of projects to be delivered this

year. Jewelz is attractively located on a plot adjacent to the Miracle Garden at Arjan with a private entrance leading to the property. The amenities include a fullyequipped health club, swimming pool, steam and sauna room, multi-purpose community hall, jogging track, barbecue deck, badminton court, tennis court and a high-tech security surveillance system. Jewelz, is the third project of Danube Properties in Arjan where it has sold the most apartments with more than 1,000 units to its credit.


NEWPROJECT

Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman of Danube Group, with Atif Rahman, Partner and Director of Danube Properties, with the model of the company’s latest project – Jewelz

For Jewelz, Danube Properties conducted thorough research, since it is the first building of its kind, fully-automated with advanced security features, officials said at a crowded press conference. The building architecture helps maximise the living space while delivering convenience of community living. The project dedicates 50 percent space to open areas with an emphasis on greenery and landscapes. Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman, of the Danube Group, said: “This project is launched with a refined customer in mind, offer-

ing luxury living at an affordable price and 15 per cent return on your total investment along with our benchmark 1 percent monthly payment plan. We have ensured the best value is offered in terms of price, facilities and services. “The project reflects our continued commitment and confidence in the market and ultimately our endeavour to create a better quality of life for our customers. I’m very confident about Jewelz. I believe, before Ramadan we will be able to sell out Jewelz , because of the affordable payment scheme.”

Explaining the 15 per cent return on investment (RoI), officials said, a property buyer pays 46 percent before getting the keys to a studio apartment that is priced at Dh460,000, for example, and the balance 54 percent to be paid with monthly installments of 1 per cent, i.e. Dh4,600 per month. “So, the buyer gets the delivery of the project after paying only 46 percent and if the buyer rents it out at the current market price, he could easily receive Dh46,000 rent per annum, after paying just Dh211,600, out of the Dh460,000 price of the stu-

“Until and unless one project sells out 75 to 80 per cent of it, I don’t even go for buying another piece of land. I don’t want my employees or clients to take stress. It’s better to build one project at a time and develop it with the right quality and within the promised delivery date...”

– Rizwan Sajan Founder & Chairman Danube Group

dio apartment,” Atif Rahman, Partner and Director of Danube Properties, explained at a crowded press conference. “This effectively translates to more than 21 percent return on investment on this particular property. “This is a very attractive proposition for property buyers and we are able to offer this due to our benchmark 1 per cent per month payment Gulf Property

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plan.” Referring to the real estate market, Sajan added: “Dubai is a lucrative and transparent market when it comes to investment. You will get the highest return on investment, high capital appreciation, and ease in doing business and strong economic growth. “In addition to, low property prices, excellent payment plan, high rental yields and the best cosmopolitan atmosphere, the current property prices are in favour of those who want to buy their own home. “Our trend-setting 1 percent monthly payment plan

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makes it cost-effective for a property buyer in Dubai than to rent one, especially if they are planning to settle in the country for a long term.” After Expo 2020 the price of is expected to pick-up exponentially, he says. Therefore, Danube’s officials suggested brokers and consumers to buy now as this is the right time. Atif Rahman said, “As a company we have remained focused on two things ‘what we deliver’ and ‘when we deliver’ with detailed attention to the process more than the result. “I want to assure everyone

that as a builder we go beyond the top line or the margins we make and we are driven by the customer satisfaction. There has been continued increase in interest from people looking to invest in affordable home and we promise to offer the best in its class asset in this segment. “We carefully design our projects to meet end-user needs and deliver a community lifestyle, evidence of which can be seen at our recently delivered projects. I also want to highlight that alongside the brand credibility, excellent location and de-

sign at extremely competitive prices, Danube Properties empowers its customer by offering a convenient payment plan which helps them build their home.” Atif Rahman said, Danubehas opened offices in India and Oman and is looking to expand sales offices in other markets as well. “Now you can see Danube wherever you go – say to Oman, to Saudi or Bahrain – taking off from Delhi airport or landing in Mumbai, you will see Danube leading with pride,” he said. “And it was made possible because of our strong cus-


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Danube Properties

anube Properties has had an excellent record in 2017 – a year in which the developer awarded contracts worth Dh392 million, delivered 302 homes worth Dh270 million while launching two projects worth Dh750 million. Danube Properties made its foray in to the real estate market in June 2014, by launching the Dh500 million 171 townhouses at Al Furjan. Since then, it expanded its portfolio by launching Glitz Residence I, II, III, Starz, Glamz, Miraclz, Resortz, Bayz and Jewelz projects. The company currently has a development portfolio of 3,217 units, including 3,165 residential units with a combined value exceeding Dh3.14 billion. It is delivering about 831 units in 2017-18, with a combined sales value of Dh1.5 billion. Danube Properties is part of Danube Group, the largest supplier of building materials and home furnishing products. Established in 1993, the company provides more than 25,000 products in stock and in-house value added services in all of its multiple set of showrooms across the Middle East region and India. g Construction Contract Awarded by Danube in 2017 Project Name Scope of Work Contractor Miraclz Main Construction Work Naresco Contracting LLC Resortz Main Construction Work Dubai Walls Construction Miraclz Piling and Shoring Atlas Foundation Resortz Piling and Shoring Atlas Foundation Bayz Piling and Shoring ............................... Total 5 Contracts Danube Project Development 2014-2018 Danube Projects Res. Units Dreamz 171 Townhouses Glitz Residence I 151 Apartments Glitz Residence II 151 Apartments Glitz Residence III 354 Apartments Starz Tower 452 Apartments Glamz Residence 418 Apartments Miraclz Tower 591 Apartments Resortz Tower 419 Apartments Bayz 456 Apartments Jewelz 463 Apartments Total 10 Projects 3,628 Units

Source: Danube Properties

tomer base. We want to expand our customer base as international as possible.” Danube’s Jewelz will be financed by the company’s own resources. Rizwan Sajan said, “We only need banks to support us while buying the land. For construction costs, our properties are sold so fast that we do not need much bank finance. It’s like we construct with a hand and sell with another. So, there is always money inflow same as outflow, if not more.” When asked about growth of other two vertical products of Danube i.e. Danube Home

Dev. Value Dh500 million Dh135 million Dh135 million Dh350 million Dh300 million Dh270 million Dh400 million Dh300 million Dh450 million Dh300 million Dh3.14 billion

and Danube Building Materials, Sajan said, Danube Building Materials recorded 11 per cent growth in 2017, whereas Danube Home has achieved 33 per cent growth – it’s highest ever – so far. The new project was launched nine months after the launch of the company’s ninth project – Bayz at Business Bay. Rizwan Sajan said, “I have people’s money with me which was given to me with great trust. We want to deliver them within the promised time without any failure. This is our company policy. “Until and unless one proj-

Contract Value Dh221 million Dh146 million Dh10 million Dh4 million Dh11 million Dh392 million

Status Ready for Delivery Delivered Delivered Ready for Delivery Under Construction Under Construction Under Construction Under Construction Tendering Stage Pre-Qualification Stage Development/Delivery ect sells out 75 to 80 per cent of it, I don’t even go for buying another piece of land. I don’t want my employees or clients to take stress. It’s better to build one project at a time and develop it with the right quality and within the promised delivery date.” Atif Rahman added, “We are in many ways a very oldfashioned and conservative organisation while operating business. This makes us more careful about meeting the commitment. Because of that we never have to face any sort of unfortunate incidents at construction or face any circumstance like not

NEWPROJECT

“The launch of Jewelz takes our portfolio value to Dh3.14 billion reinforcing our presence in the industry. I reiterate that as a company we have remained focused on two things “what we deliver” and “when we deliver” with detailed attention to the process more than the result...”

– Atif Rahman Partner and Director Danube Properties

able to deliver at the right time. All our projects have careful study and immense amount of planning behind.” Danube Properties has also launched a new website that is more interactive for property buyers and brokers who wants to know in-details about Danube projects, payment scheme and get updated on current real estate market of Middle East. g Gulf Property

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Construction works of Samana Greens start NEWPROJECT

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amana Developers, a Dubai-based boutique real estate developer, last month broke ground on its maiden real estate project – Samana Greens, with an attractive offer of seven per cent discount for buyers who would want to make payments through cryptocurrency. This makes Samana Developers a completely new player in Dubai’s growing real es-

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tate market that is currently one of the best regulated property markets in the world. “We made a conscious decision to enter the market when it reached a certain degree of maturity backed up by sound regulation that protects investors,”

Imran Farooq, the CEO of Samana Group of Companies, told Gulf Property. “I believe, the time for us to enter the property


NEWPROJECT Samana Greens will look like this once complete in 2020

“Dubai’s mature and well-regulated real estate market and its inclination to high-quality living has given us confidence to start our journey in real estate market. As a new developer, we see enormous possibilities for our projects to be wellreceived...”

– Imran Farooq Chief Executive Officer Samana Group

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NEWPROJECT “As a developer with a futuristic vision, Samana Greens will be based on green building concepts. It is befitting to help the customers to give the freedom to choose their preferred mode of payments – be it cash, cheque, credit card, home finance, bank transfer of cryptocurrency – which is gaining popularity every day...”

– Imran Farooq Chief Executive Officer Samana Group

market is very right as we are a responsible business group and want to build our business based on trust. “The current market regulations are good for responsible players like ours to enter the market and we are happy to start developing our first real estate project.” The project will use green building features and will be developed at Dubai’s new upmarket community Arjan which also hosts the Miracle Gardens. The Dh75 million Samana Greens residential project – a freehold property – will deliver 131 residential units comprising of studio to two-bedroom apartments.

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Imran Farooq, CEO (2nd from right) with Muhammad Farooq, Chairman (centre), along with officials, breaking ground on Samana Greens at Arjan community

The construction work is scheduled to start this month and will be completed in April 2020 – six months before the remarkable Expo 2020 begins. Located right opposite to the Miracle Gardens tourist attraction, Samana Greens will be easily accessible through two major expressways – Al Khail Road and Mohammed Bin Zayed Road – and gives its residents easy access to the major attractions of Dubai. Arjan master community is a new and growing neighbourhood and is surrounded by Arabian Ranches, Dubai Sports City, Motor City Jumeirah Vil-

lage Circle, Dubai Hills Estate, along with close proximity to a hospital and three schools. Samana Group has started receiving cryptocurrency payments across the group. Property buyers will be able to make transactions by using digital currency, which will save time. Samana Greens will be developed as per the green building best practices utilising energy-efficient technologies. The residential units will be loaded with smart home technology to enable them energy-efficient making residents’ stay more comfortable and luxurious. Samana Developers is

part of a diversified Dubaibased conglomerate Samana Group with interests in multiple businesses and services. The group has deployed the best resources for the design and development of its maiden project. The G+4 project comes with ample parking space, landscaping and other associated facilities with a built-up area of 140,000 square feet. The residential project brings several retail outlets, luxurious sauna and gymnasium, a themed retail area, basement parking, secured play area for kids and plenty of green spaces for its residents.


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Samana Group

Imran Farooq, Chief Executive of Samana Group

The project – a green and sustainable development – will compliment Dubai’s real estate with additional supplies to help re-balance the demand-supply mismatch. Imran Farooq said, “As a developer with a futuristic vision, Samana Greens will be based on green building concepts. It is befitting to help the customers to give the freedom to choose their preferred mode of payments – be it cash, cheque, credit card, home finance, bank transfer of cryptocurrency – which is gaining popularity every day. “Dubai’s mature and wellregulated real estate market

and its inclination to highquality living has given us confidence to start our journey in real estate market. As a new developer, we see enormous possibilities for our projects to be well-received. Dubai developers are in a tight competition targeting Expo 2020 and our aim will be to help new supplies in this upward trend field and grow further along with sustainable Dubai market,” he added. “The project being located in a prime location as Arjan, which is closer to Al Maktoum International Airport – the world’s largest greenfield airport project with a ca-

pacity to handle 160 million passengers annually and Dubai South – the venue of Expo 2020 site – adds value to the Dubai’s real estate market and our consumer’s expectations. “With Samana Greens, we want to offer the best to our clients. The project will be fully financed by us that gives us the comfort of delivering it on time and with the best quality.” Following the start of the construction, Samana Developers will announce the commercial launch of the project with a pricing and payment plan to attract home buyers. g

amana Developers is a part of Samana Group of companies. The upcoming project - Samana Greens – in Arjan area is state-of- theart residential project. Samana Developers has built its repute through high performance standards and wide range of services. Samana Developers focus on developing commercial and residential projects with distinctive features that makes life better and world a better place to live in. Samana Group of Companies is a Dubai-based diversified business conglomerate comprising of eight companies engaged in immigration consultancy services, investment advisory, real estate development, property brokerage and asset management, playing their role in the UAE and GCC economies. Each company is a full-fledged professional and business entity, with proper business model, state-of-theart facilities and managed by fully dedicated professional staff. It offers diversified services and its strength is in its highly professional and transparent approach. The group companies render Business Management, Immigration Services and Real Estate. The Group includes Premiers International, Star Business Centre, Global Migration Services, AAA Associates, Samana Developers, Capital Investment Company Limited and Reliance Star Properties. g Gulf Property

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EB-5 Immigration Programme has helped thousands of investors to help the US economy and families to help settle in the US

GCC investors to benefit from EB-5

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Gulf Property Exclusive

s US President Donald Trump pushes his ‘America First’ policy, the GCC investors are in a unique position to support the US Administration in creating employment for Americans through EB-5 Investor Immigration Programme. Stephen Strnisha, first Chairman of the Public Policy Committee of Invest in the USA (IIUSA), the EB-5 industry trade association, ex-

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plains how. US Government offers up to 10,000 Green Cards per year under the EB-5 Investor Immigration Programme to investors who inject US$500,000 into job-creating projects through designated ‘Regional Centres’. Gulf investors could benefit from the EB-5 Investor Immigration Programme reform and help US economy create more jobs. With a potential 10,000 number of visas, the annual EB-5 programme could generate US$5 billion and up to 100,000 jobs for Americans per year. Stephen Strnisha, Chief

Executive Officer of Cleveland Investment Fund, has had the good fortune of being involved in the dialogue about EB-5 with Congressional leaders over this time as first Chairman of the Public Policy Committee of Invest in the USA (IIUSA), the EB-5 industry trade association, and for the past two areas as a Board officer of IIUSA. Gulf Property caught up with him on a wide ranging subjects in an exclusive interview. Excerpts. Gulf Property: Has the EB5 (Employment-Based

Visa) Programme been renewed and for how many months/years? How long do you think the EB-5 Programme will continue? Stephen Strnisha: The programme's current reauthorisation runs through March 23 of this year. The EB-5 programme has been operating under existing rules through a series of short term extensions since September 30, 2015. During this time a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders have been working on an extension that would not only be long term (at least 5 years) but also reform


Stephen J Strnisha, Chief Executive Officer of Cleveland International Fund

INTERVIEW “Individuals seeking a green card in the US have different needs and objectives and no one programme is suited to all circumstances. EB-5 fits best for those individuals who desire permanent residency for themselves and their immediate family....”

– Stephen Strnisha Chief Executive Cleveland Int’l Fund

the programme in two general ways: 1) Provide for greater accountability and the promotion of best practices among EB-5 regional centres and 2) Increase the programme’s investment amount in light of their having been no change since the programme's inception in the early 1990s. The reauthorisation would also provide various incentives to spread the economic benefits of EB-5 investment to more areas in the United States. Congress finally appears close to passing a long term reauthorisation with reforms

by the March deadline. While there was never much doubt that EB-5 would continue (it enjoys bipartisan support from both Republicans and Democrats) the anticipated passage next month will demonstrate the US’s commitment to immigration through investment and provide for an improved programme that foreign investors can even more confidence in.

Do you think the government should raise the annual 10,000 quota for EB-5 Visa? Across the industry there is

uniform support for an increase in EB-5 visa numbers given its exploding demand over the past 5-7 years and the demonstrated benefit that has come with this increased investment. Unfortunately, with increased demand and a set limit of available visas per year the current result is a programme with a line of investors waiting to get their green card upon initial approval by USCIS of investors I-526 application. Because of how the program's visas are allocated, however, ‘retrogression’, as it is called, currently only affects applicants

from the Peoples Republic of China, the country generating the vast majority of investor demand to date. The length of this wait for Chinese investors has now reduced demand from that country which has in turn caused regional centres to spend more time and effort actively soliciting investors from other parts of the world. This is a positive development for all interested individuals in the Middle East, where there is no retrogression and an increasing number of regional centres providing a variety of offerings for investor consideraGulf Property

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tion.

Based on your experience, how has the EB-5 contributed to the local economy where you operate and invest the immigrant’s funds? Since 2010 CIF has raised over $240 million for ten different development projects ranging from various branded hotel types to over 1,000 new units of housing and finally to developments that retained and expanded major corporate headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio such as Ernst and Young and American Greetings Corporation. These projects have in turn created over 14,000 new jobs. While never a majority of the funding for any one project EB-5 funds secured and deployed by CIF have most often been the key to turning the vision of a development into reality. This track record, achieved in less than eight years, has made CIF a critical player in advancing economic development in Northeast Ohio, so much so that our regional Chamber of Commerce now sought an ownership interest in our enterprise. Our success has also led us to expand our focus to two other States and six other metropolitan areas resulting in CIF now serving a significant portion of the U.S. Midwest between Chicago and New York, comprising a population of over 13 million people. Does the investor get the money back and after how

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many years? The EB-5 allows for investors to be eligible to receive their investment back after completion of their sustainment period (i.e. the programme requirement to keep their investment ‘at risk’ for a certain period). Based on current USCIS processing times that period is approximately 4-5 years for investors from countries not impacted by retrogression.

After getting the passport, if the immigrant wants to re-invest, do you offer a return/profit/interest on the principal amount? CIF is in the process of developing a new group of

funds which will be available to EB-5 investors that have been repaid. These funds will be investing in similar types of projects as CIF's current portfolio. These funds will be expected to yield a return to investors of between 7-14 per cent depending on their investment focus (e.g. Debt vs Equity funds) and produce that return along with a return of an investors' capital within a 3-5 year period. The choice on whether to invest in such a fund will be solely the choice of the EB-5 investor once they are repaid.

Give me five reasons why an investor should invest in your fund? What are

your Unique Selling Points (USPs)? First, CIF has a strong track record of achieving success for its investors in terms of obtaining green cards. Of the 442 I-526 applications seeking conditional residency (1st step in the EB-5 immigration process) adjudicated by USCIS all but one has been approved, an unprecedented 99.8 percent approval rate, well in excess of the industry average of less than 80 percent. In terms of I-829 applications which seek to remove conditional status and make residency permanent (the final step in the EB-5 immigration process) 201 applications from CIF investors have


INTERVIEW

“Our success has also led us to expand our focus to two other States and six other metropolitan areas resulting in CiF now serving a significant portion of the U.S. Midwest between Chicago and New York, comprising a population of over 13 million people...”

– Stephen Strnisha Chief Executive Cleveland Int’l Fund

been adjudicated by USCIS with every single one approved, a 100 percent approval rate. Secondly, CIF has an equally strong record of repaying its investors. Of the $95 million in CIF loans maturing up to this point, the full amount has been repaid and in turn disbursed back to the individual investors. The performance of our current portfolio also gives us confidence that remaining loan balances will be repaid CIF in a timely manner over the next several years, allowing those investors to also be paid their original capital. Thirdly, CIF only provides financings to the projects it carefully selects on a loan

basis. This provides for a clearer exit strategy since loans have maturity dates and a more secure position given the higher priority debt has over equity in any capital structure. Fourth, CIF's experience in real estate finance and the market it serves also results in selectivity in terms of the projects it chooses to finance. It also means that CiF has the ability to give critical attention to crafting security provisions with its borrowers that provide the best opportunity for repayment and should issues arise provides CIF the remedies needed to pursue repayment on behalf of its investors. Fifth, CIF focuses exclu-

sively on EB-5 and as such gives exclusive attention to its investors, assisting and informing them throughout the multi-year process from initial solicitation to USCIS application assistance to regular updates on project status through the investment period to achieving permanent residency and repayment of principal. Another key aspect of this focus is that CIF is not aligned nor has any management or ownership interest with any developer and operates on an arms’ length basis with all developers it assists. This is different than many EB-5 regional centres and assures that CIF serves solely the interests of its in-

vestors as it relates to any specific project.

What are the guarantees that the investor will get his and his spouse’s passport in time – say 5 years? First off, based on current USCIS processing times and for individuals from countries not impacted by retrogression the estimated time for receiving a conditional green card is approximately 2-3 years from funding and filing. The estimated time to achieve permanent residency (upon approval of the I-829) for the same group of investors is 5-6 years. The variance in this number and largest factor driving it is the time it takes USCIS to Gulf Property

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Adam Blackman, Kristen Laughlin and Stephen J Strnisha, Chief Executive Officer of Cleveland International Fund

process applications. Regional centres like CiF do not determine that (and any regional centre who suggests it can get special treatment from USCIS for its investors is not being truthful and should be avoided). What CIF does do to put its investors in the best situation to avoid unnecessary delays is to market projects that already have project approval (I-924 application) or at minimum have been submitted for approval to USCIS in advance of soliciting individual investors. USCIS's policy is not to adjudicate I-526 applications until an I-924 project application is approved. CIF's track record on I-924 application approvals is also 100 percent. CIF also works closely with the investor and its immigration counsel to ensure its applications is complete and serves to minimise USCIS coming back with questions on an investor's application which can slow approval.

Is this the best investmentimmigration package for

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immigration to the US? Individuals seeking a green card in the U.S. have different needs and objectives and no one programme is suited to all circumstances. EB-5 fits best for those individuals who desire permanent residency (not subject to renewal) for themselves and their immediate family (all covered by the single investment). Few other vehicles exist for meeting those dual objectives. In addition, if the applicant chooses wisely he or she can feel comfortable that they have a high probability for a return of their capital within 4-5 years. Moreover, while EB-5 remains a below market invest-

ment vehicle, regional centres are increasing the rate of return they are offering investors as they actively pursue markets outside of China. This is certainly the case with CIF which believes it provides some of the higher rates return available given its practice of deploying EB-5 as a secured lender to projects and not as equity.

What is your game plan to promote this programme in the UAE, GCC? CiF commenced its efforts in the Middle East last year with a specific focus on the UAE. This effort has already yielded individual investors and CIF looks to establish an ongoing marketing effort

here through strategic partnerships, regular seminars for investors and firms who have trusted relationships with such individuals and participation in Immigration by Investment expositions. We plan to be a regular visitor to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and perhaps other parts of the GCC as part of this effort. With its current offerings and plans for future offerings CIF sees the companies and individuals of this region as valuing its track record and professionalism. CIF also believes that EB5 will be increasingly seen in the GCC as a viable and reliable means to achieve permanent residency status in the U.S., which many desire.


EB-5 Immigration Programme has been helping the construction and real estate sectors in the United States

How many immigrants benefitted from CIF? As noted above 441 applicants associated with CIF's EB-5 offerings have been approved for conditional residency which yields a green card. Of those a little over 200 have already achieved the step of being approved for permanent residency. Since on average applicants use 2.5 visas (for spouses and children) this means that well over 1,000 green cards have been issued for CIF investors and their families and of those approximately 500 are permanent with no need for renewal.

What is the outlook for In-

vestor Immigration to the US? The EB-5 regional centre programme is the major investor immigration vehicle for U.S. Residency and while it grew at a rapid pace starting in 2009-2010, its pace has slowed over the last two years as the programme's reauthorisation has been subject to short term extensions, the latest extending the program's authority only through March 23, 2018. As CIF's CEO who serves as a Board officer of IIUSA, I have been an active participant in advocating for a long term extension of the EB-5 programme and for programme changes that will improve accountability and

spread the benefit of EB-5 investment beyond just the largest US cities. As previously stated progress is being made on this front with a strong possibility that Congress will pass legislation that will achieve these goals by the upcoming deadline. The result should have the following impact in the near and mid-term for investor immigration in the U.S. The investment amount for most EB-5 offerings will increase immediately from $500,000 to most likely $925,000. There will also be greater compliance requirements for regional centres which will increase their cost of operations but also bring

INTERVIEW

greater integrity to the programme. Finally, it also unlikely that there will be any increase in the 10,000 annual visa limit, meaning that retrogression for Chinese investors will remain and the market in China will continue to slow. For the market in general CIF believes these changes will reduce the overall investor market somewhat as a result mainly of the price increase. It will also have the effect, however, of regional centres becoming even more active in markets like the UAE and GCC and also likely to lead to EB-5 offerings proposing higher rates of return to its investors. CIF also believes that over time there will be a reduction in the number of regional centres due to increased compliance requirements, which will in turn reduce the number of EB-5 offerings. This will in general be a good development because it will result in supply aligning closer with investor demand and also mean that the regional centers remaining active in the market as well as their offerings will be of higher quality. This should lead to greater market confidence and better results in the long term for investors and projects seeking EB-5 capital. g Gulf Property

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DIGAE to be full of action

series of interactive events and seminars will be held at the Dubai International Government Achievements Exhibition (DIGAE) from 9-11 April 2018 at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The exhibition will host a number of international speakers from prominent research and academic institutions and will witness local, Arab and international participation from various government agencies concerned with achieving excellence in government performance. Dr. Ahmad Al Nusairat, Coordinator General of DGEP, said, the exhibition has addressed many important topics in the field of government excellence through its activities in the last few years. “The events that were held during the previous exhibition sessions have deep impact in various fields that fall within the framework of government excellence and development,” he said. Dr. Nusairat said that the exhibition will focus on the concepts of future industry, artificial intelligence, and smart governments, where specialised knowledge seminars will be held to review the world's leading experiments in these fields. These specialized seminars will also discuss the latest and best governmental practices in the fields of government excellence, creativity, and innovation in government work. g

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Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi UAE Minister of Infrastructure Development and Pacome Moubelet Bouyeba, Gabonese Minister of Forest and Environment, listens to Ghassan Farouk Afiouni, Managing Director of Steelwood, while Dawood Al Shehzawi, President of Strategic Marketing and Exhibition – organiser of Dubai WoodShow – looks on during the opening of the three-day event that took place at the Dubai World Trade Centre

13th Dubai WoodShow records great success

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he 13th edition of Dubai WoodShow, which was inaugurated by Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi Cabinet Member and Minister of Infrastructure Development, in the presence of Pacome Moubelet Bouyeba, Gabonese Minister of Forest and Environment, and other dignitaries from the UAE and Dubai government entities, has witnessed a flurry of business activities amongst visitors and participating companies at the three-day international trade event. “Exhibitions such as Dubai WoodShow are very important to our economy that showcases the latest technology, innovation in the industry,” Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi Cabinet Member and Minister of Infrastructure Development, said following the inauguration of the event. “The wood industry is a very important value-added sector in our economy and I am

pleased with such a wonderful exhibition taking place in Dubai.” The three-day international trade show that showcases the latest wood products, woodworking, machine tools and new technology, is participated by more than 412 exhibitors from 55 countries and includes six country pavilions – Canada, China, Finland, Russia, Turkey and the USA. Organised by Strategic Marketing and Exhibitions, the event works as a barometer on the overall woodworking market and the induction of new concepts, ideas and technologies. More than 10,000 trade visitors are expected to participate at the international event – including visitors from the GCC and other markets to source the latest products, services, machineries as well as renew their existing trade relations. Dawood Al Shezawi, President of Strategic Marketing and Exhibitions, says, “Dubai WoodShow provides an important gateway for wood

and timber traders, woodworking machineries suppliers, furniture and joineries to take advantage of the latest technologies and innovations in the industry – which is changing very fast. “The massive construction activities in the GCC, especially in Dubai that is driven by Expo 2020-related infrastructure and projects – will continue to drive demand for wood products and we expect to see the wood import and export value to exceed Dh4 billion recorded in 2016 – in the following years. “We are pleased to bring more than 412 exhibitors from 55 countries and expect the visitor turnout to exceed that of the previous editions of Dubai WoodShow – that has created an important benchmark for the industry.” Dubai WoodShow is being supported Steel Wood Industries, SIMCO, Hettich and other partners. Most exhibitors expressed their satisfaction on the visitor flow at the event. g


Urban innovation to drive Future Cities

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ubai city not only as a milieu, but also as a principal example of the specific challenges that cities around the world are facing. Future Cities Show will have Sustainability, Innovation and Happiness as its main core, hence focusing on several transformational concepts as catalysts for smart urban development. Future Cities Show conference will be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from April 9-11, 2018. Osman Sultan, CEO of du, commented, “As we continue to experience rapid change across our global communities through digital disruption, it is our role as an ICT leader to leverage and harness this great opportunity for progress. This tsunami of data can be shaped by our trusted expertise so we can learn and grow together. Our flourishing partnership with Smart Dubai is producing data-driven insights that are reducing complexity throughout our great city, one of the elements driving towards the 10X Dubai initiative. Here at EITC, we focus on getting the balance right between the technology and the human, social, ethical and economic variables too, nowhere is this seen more clearly than in our Smart City deployment here in Dubai.” Future Cities Show is comprised of an exhibition, where companies and institutions will reveal their projects, technologies and urban solutions to visitors and experts alike, as well as a smart city conference focusing on the aspects to develop modern urban environments that adapts to the

In Future Cities, robots with artificial intelligence will carry out regular works

citizens. The show emphasizes on three key themes – Environmental, Economic and Social matters – and features over 50 highly specialised speakers in IoT and big data, Blockchain technology, carbon capturing, green tech, smart technology and futuristic mobility and safety solutions, as well as smart building development and happy societies. The presentation area agenda hosts 25 different city presentations, workshops and session. The 12 keynotes will be given by global smart city decision makers and thought leaders in sustainability, innovation and happiness evangelists. The CEO of du said, “The convergence of life, mobility, economy, governance, environment and the smart city of tomorrow is only possible through a visionary approach towards technology providing seamless connectivity is the first step to ensure the rabbit rapid realisation of the Dubai Smart vision.” Future Cities Show brings

together international experts in smart cities to discuss what the future will look like and how the cities have to adapt on all levels to take the increase in inhabitants. Future Cities Show has a special focus on mobility, which is the most discussed issue around the world in urban planning and city management. The Middle East and Asia are good examples of fast scaling metropolitan populations that needs special attention to the mobility issue to move around the inhabitants every day. Another main focus of decision makers around the world is the need for renewable energy solutions, to protect the planet from the increased energy usage. Displayed at Future Cities Show will be waste-to-energy solutions, self-sustainable smart devices, solar, wind and water power solutions, energy efficient construction materials and monitoring systems that lower energy usage. g

SPOTLIGHT

A

David Dudley joins Aldar

dar Properties has recently appointed David Dudley, a former executive of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) as Executive Director, Investments and Partnerships. Dudley has over 20 years’ global real estate experience, including 9 years in the MENA region as Director of Operations. During this time, he was responsible for JLL’s regional offices in Abu Dhabi, KSA and Egypt, executing multi-disciplinary assignments including development advisory and transactions, investment transactions, leasing, valuations and strategy. Talal Al Dhiyebi, Chief Executive Officer, Aldar Properties, said:“I am pleased to welcome David to Aldar in this new role as we expand our capabilities within our development team. “David brings a wealth of experience that will be invaluable to Aldar as we embark upon bold plans for future growth.” g Gulf Property

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