Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Banks under pressure on the prospect of increasing loan defaults

UAE faces a slowdown in property loans and real estate activity as the country's property boom loses steam amid the global credit crisis.

The mortgage defaults and property foreclosures is a very serious problem for banks and real estate developers are being hurt as home sales fall, making it harder for them to repay loans. UAE banks and lending institutions have begun toughening their lending criteria. Raj Madha, a director responsible for equity research at EFG-Hermes Holding SAE, said in a report that the scale of banking sector exposure to property developers and contractors means that a problem for the property sector is substantially a problem for the banks.

Moody's Investors Service has announced that it has revised downwards the outlooks on the ratings of four UAE banks - Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC, Dubai Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC and First Gulf Bank PJSC. They have changed the rating to 'negative' from 'stable' and the outlooks on the ratings for all senior unsecured debt issued by the above-named banks have also been revised accordingly.

John Tofarides, Analyst in Moody's Financial Institutions Group said that the rating reflects the growing downward pressures on asset prices and the anticipated profitability pressures from rising funding costs derived from increasingly scarce liquidity and loss of confidence. They have said that that soaring loan growth levels and future loan commitments are exacerbating the pressures on UAE banks' liquidity.

However, Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs said that the outlook for economic growth for next year is positive. He added that Al Tayer said the Ministry of Finance had imposed conditions on the release of payments to banks to end the liquidity crisis. Central Bank Governor Sultan Nasser Al Suwaidi, in a speech to the FNC, said the national economy is strong. According to the IMF estimates, the economy grew 7 per cent this year and it is expected to slowdown next year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Damac makes steady progress for timely delivery of Ocean Heights project

Ocean heightsIn a bid to deliver its project on schedule, Damac Properties is said to be making steady progress on the 'Ocean Heights Tower' project at Dubai Marina, by completing one floor every 5.2days.

The leading construction contractor, Arabtec, is constructing the 84-storey skyscraper and currently the staffs are successfully delivering one entire floor in little more than five working days, it has been reported.

The Damac CEO, Peter Riddoch, said "Ocean Heights is likely to be one of the most iconic projects with a twisting architectural design, which is now taking shape. People passing by the building at Dubai Marina can catch a glimpse of the "turning" appearance of the building, as it reaches its 30th floor."

He added that, Damac is closely working with Arabtec, and more swift progress could be expected by early 2009 on this iconic building.

On completion, Ocean Heights is likely to house 680 single, double and triple bedroom apartments with underground parking bay. The tower incorporates all necessary amenities such as swimming pool, state-of-the-art gymnasium, beaches, tennis, serene gardens, artificial lakes, and jaccuzi.

The tower enjoys easy access to Jumeirah Beach, Wild Wadi Water Park, Dubai Marina, Ibn Battuta Mall and Emirates Golf Club.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

"Properties can still yield considerable bargains, if sold wisely": Realty agents

According to real estate agents in Dubai, property can still reap considerable profits. They have warned that owners need to be realistic about the value for which they can sell their homes in the current market condition.

The boom growth during the recent past has now come to an end, and property sellers need to slash prices. Despite this, the agents say that the profit margins are still higher than that in the European and US markets, and in case the sellers reinvest wisely, they will be able to make bargains, and can continue to make money.

Many sellers who have lowered their prices have already seen huge appreciation in the value of their homes and are not much worried about the squeeze on profit margins, the agents said.

For instance, a penthouse at Jumeirah Beach Residence sold after reducing its value from Dh.21m to Dh.14m, and also two luxury villas on The Palm were priced at Dh.13.5mn and Dh.13.7mn, as against the earlier Dh.24mn.

The villas were originally purchased for Dh.5mn to Dh.7mn, which implies that the seller had still made a profit of more than 100 percent, rather than the 300 percent profit, otherwise obtained during the boom time.

The market is very tough and nobody wants to make a loss on property. But still, it is possible to make 100 percent profit, the margin which cannot be obtained in Europe or the US, agents claim.

Investors selling their properties can still consider reinvestment with so many bargains doing rounds, the agents point out.

According to Asteco, Dubai, the recent price correction has only resulted in a more "meaningful" market.

The completed properties were being sold for 15 to 25 percent lesser than that was happening a year ago, when off-plan properties were sold at their original properties. Also several people who have completed their properties have taken the decision of renting them out, rather than selling, due to fall in prices, Asteco said.

RAKBANK strikes deal with Sorouh, Aldar for mortgage finance in Abu Dhabi

With the RAKBANK announcing new mortgage finance service schemes for several existing and upcoming projects in the city, potential buyers stand a good chance of owning their dream home in Abu Dhabi.

The RAKBANK, together with Aldar Properties and Sourouh Real Estate, have entered into a deal, wherein the bank, being a strategic mortgage partner for the developers, is offering upto 90 percent mortgage finance and 25-year loan tenure for all their residential freehold properties in Abu Dhabi.

The projects include the Al RAha Beach and Yas Island by Aldar, and Shams project on Reem Island by Sorouh, and the iconic architecture underway for the Sun Tower, Gate district, Alghadeer and Sky Tower.

According to Graham Honeybill, the General Manager of RAKBANK, the announcements of several unique landmark projects, multi-billion dirham investments and growing demand for housing, has made the Capital a property hotspot in the Gulf region, and therefore, mortgage finance provider becomes the focus area.

RAKBANK, the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah, was one of the first conventional banks to offer mortgage finance in the UAE four years ago, and has thereafter built a reputation in providing fast, flexible mortgage services in the UAE. This new partnership deal is the latest by the bank, although it is already offering mortgage finance services to several major residential projects developed by other developers such as Nakheel, Emaar, Emaar Bawadi, Mizin, Dubai Properties, ETA Star and Deyaar.

Both Sorouh Real Estate and Aldar are two largest property developers with about Dh.60bn and Dh.45bn worth developments in hand. Aldar owns 51mn square meters of land in Abu Dhabi, while Sorouh is undertaking development of 22million square meters of land in the city.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

UAE investors seek "affordable exit route" to prevent distress sale

Buyers and property analysts in the UAE are of the opinion that UAE property developers should offer investors with an "affordable exit route" in order to keep away from distress sales.

According to the analysts, given the current situation of global financial crisis and thereby the sudden slump in property sector, it is imperative for developers and authorities in-charge to arrive upon a series of measures to restore investor confidence.

A leading banker in the UAE has suggested that probably an initiative from the government's end, such as reconsidering provision of residence visa facility for buyers of free-hold residential units, would help restore the confidence and boost the property sector.

He pointed out that when the property boom in Dubai began, several developers had given an impression that buying a free-hold property would entitle buyers with residential visa status. This resulted in a major boom in the sector and brought about considerable growth. But, just a couple of months ago, when the authorities clarified that buying a free-hold property does not grant a residential visa status, several international investors backed out of the market.

Despite several legislations such as the Escrow Account, interim real estate register rule by RERA, all helped in building investor trust, the sector needs more proactive measures for revitalization, he added.

The Founder-Chairman of Overseas Indians Economic Forum, Dr. Ram Buxani, said that those who bought several units to take advantage of lucrative earning opportunities, should be granted with an affordable exit route, so that they do not end up with distress sales, which would further delay recovery of property market. Also, the projects that are yet to tak-off or get started should be put on hold and incapable investors should be allowed a convenient exit.

Dr. Buxani explained that about 30 percent of property buyers in the market are individual investors, who play a major role in boosting property sector. Another area that needs to be considered is the penalty clause, which should be maintained at a reasonable level of below 5 percent for those intending to exit. In cases where cash refunds are impossible, even issuing bonds which could be redeemed in 3-4 years are a better option.

Deyaar successfully delivers Al Seef II units to owners

One of the fastest growing real estate companies in the region, Deyaar Development, delivered all 210 units of its Al Seef II tower to its residents last week.

The prime residential development, comprising double and triple bedroom apartments and penthouses with lake views is located in the Jumeirah Lakes Towers in Dubai. Being adjacent to the Sheikh Zayed Road, the development is in proximity to several other prime properties such as the Emirates Golf Course, Mall of Emirates and the Palm Jumeirah, and other major business hubs such as Dubai Media City, Jebel Ali Free Zone and Dubai Internet City.

Al Seef II includes all modern amenities such as health club, wide array of retail facilities and ample parking space.

The CEO of Deyaar, Markus Giebel, when speaking during the handover, said that the Al Seef II tower is an excellent upcoming community with business and lifestyle amenities. The project is in strict adherence to the best standards in the industry, and this indicates the commitment by Deyaar to cater to customer requirements.

Being one of the fastest growing Dubai-based property companies in the region, Deyaar Development PJSC has grown immensely and has proven to be a one-stop solutions provider. Apart from offering services such as marketing, sales and brokerage, Deyaar's strategic solutions have helped in creating exceptional value for investors. The company has developed over 16,000 commercial and residential properties till date, and is all set to continue and maintain its pivotal place in the property sector of the region.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

UAE plans to implement Unified Freehold Property Regulation

UAE has placed a draft legislation that restricts expatriates from automatically acquiring residency visas through freehold property ownership, revealed a Federal National Council (FNC) member.

The Council will soon submit draft legislation on freehold properties to the government, which is hoped to unify the divergent law pertaining to the sector in the seven emirates.

One of the Council members, Dr. Abdul Rahim Shaheen, said that the council was considering implementation of the proposed legislation as quickly as possible.

With seven emirates handling freehold property under various rules, there has been utter chaos in the sector. The government plans to issue a federal regulation which unifies rules on dealing with foreigners with regard to freehold of properties and imposes strict punishments against those who exploit ownership for generating public interest.

He said that the issue has endangered national interest and UAE's identity as the Emiratis are being outnumbered by expatriates, due to which, few residents have begun demanding rights.

Expatriates are not entitled to 25-year residency through owernship of a property, clarified a senior official at the Ministry of Interior.

The Director of Legal Department, Ministry of Interior, Col. Rashid Sultan Al Khider, when speaking to the media, said that the Naturalization and Residency Law does not have a clause that permits expatriate property owners to obtain a 25-year residency visa.

This clarification by the Ministry regarding implementation of a new law by FNC, came, following the practice of several property developers advertising residency visas with their property sales.
Col. Rashid said that such advertisements by property companies are not right, and is in violationg of Naturalization and Residency Law, which stipulates expats in the UAE are here either for study, work, medical treatment, or tourism or are sponsored by family members.

Therefor, the FNC's plan to implement a regulation on freehold property coincides with the current situation, wherein, property marketing companies are adopting wrong practices to hit the society.

Cayan's Dorra Bay project at Dubai Marina, completed

Dorra Bay Tower
Cayan Investment and Development has announced completion of their Dh.350mn Dorra Bay project in Dubai Marina.

The developer also revealed completion of four out of six towers progressing in the Marina. The towers are already being handed-over to the clients.

Dorra Bay project is a 22-storey residential tower, launched in April 2006, located along between the beach and the marina and consists of single, double, and triple bedroom units, garden terrace apartments, duplexes and penthouses.

Dorra Bay offers residents ample modern amenities such as swimming pools, kids play areas, state-of-the-art gymnasiums, lush outdoor landscaping, and modern business center. Residents can also enjoy easy access to shops located within the tower, boating berths, all of which, add to the convenience of residing at Dorra Bay.

The completion of projects despite bad turn of events in the global markets, emphasizes the commitment by the company toward delivering the projects, which further instills customer confidence in the company.

The Cayan Investments CEO, Kareem Derbas, said that Cayan has always strived and has remained committed towards delivering high-end luxury and high-return investments to customers, and will continue to do so in future.

Cayan began its operations five years ago with a single project on the Dubai Marina, and now has projects portfolio worth Dh.8bn.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Major UAE property developers declares to proceed with projects

Few major property developers in the UAE have confirmed that they are not back-tracking their projects, or putting them on hold, in wake of the global recession. However, they did agree that the crisis has posed several odds for the industry, and is likely to affect small firms.

The Chairman of Pearl Dubai, Abdul Majeed al Fahim, said "As far as we are concerned there is no liquidity problem and our projects are on track. There may be some technical delays, but nor financial delays, and all projects would be delivered on time."

Al Fahim agreed that the crisis has posed challenges and hindrance for investors around the globe, and that few local projects that have been launched without proper planning or studies may get cancelled, particularly those set up by small firms.

Talking about the growth in property sector, he said that there could be positive growth in the UAE, but it could be a single digit growth.

Another executive from a major property company revealed that although the credit growth in UAE had slowed down, this has not made an impact on its projects worth Dh.70bn within and outside the emirate.

Sorouh Real Estate, which is currently executing projects worth Dh.70bn in Abu Dhabi, confirmed that it plans to go-ahead with all its projects as planned, despite the global meltdown.

The Chief Operation Officer of Sorouh Real Estate, Samer F. Abu Hijleh, said, that their businesses are growing despite the global financial crisis and the company has not sacked any employee, nor have plans to cut down workforce, and in fact, the company plans to recruit more workers.

Speaking to the press during the announcement of Arabian World Construction Summit Conference to be held between 9th and 11th February 2009, organized by Meed, he said, the Sun and Sky Towers on Reem Island of Abu Dhabi will be delivered in 2010. All the 1140 units of the two towers have been sold.

Sorouh has also sold 100 out of 111 plots to sub-developers on Shams on Reem Island.

Dubai's RERA urges investors to beware of illegal groups

Dubai's RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority) has cautioned investors to stay away from 'illegal groups' relaying misleading and baseless information about property regulations.

The Authorities have urged investors to stay alert and get in touch with RERA, before signing deals.

Circulation of such information is 'highly misleading' and 'deceptive' to investors. This will result in investors losing money directly, if the contracts are not thoroughly read and cross-verified, and if proper legal advice is not sought, officials at RERA announced.

The officials have requested investors to consult them for any official information on Dubai property market and pertaining to investments.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Omniyat confirms timely delivery of all its launched projects

Omniyat Properties, one of the most innovative private property development companies in the region, re-iterated its commitment to the timely delivery of all its launched projects.

With nine projects, worth more than Dh.13bn in progress, Omniyat confirmed delivery of all projects in a span of three years, at the rate of three deliveries per year.

The CEO of Omniyat, Peter Walichnowski, said that construction is progressing as scheduled for all launched projects of Omniyat, and the company is committed towards meeting delivery schedules. The first three projects - Bays water, One Business Bay and The Square, would be ready by April 2009. The second bath of three projects - Binary, The Pad, and Gemini would be ready by 2010, while next three projects - The Opus, the Octavian and Beachfront would be delivered by 2011.

"This indicates the faith by the company in the Dubai market and also that the company is well-placed to meet the prevailing market conditions. The company is focused on the needs of customers, and will deliver outstanding real estate projects that offer superior quality commercial and residential lifestyles," he added.

Triveni Group holds ground-breaking for La Fontana

La Fontana di Triveni apartments DubaiThe Dubai-based developer, Triveni Builders and Promoters Limited (TBPL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Triveni Trading Group, held the ground-breaking ceremony of its Dh.100mn middle-income residential building, La Fontana.

The six-storey low rise building is located in the Arjan Master Community in Dubailand, and is considered 'one-of-a-kind community' which promotes greenery, nature, and a amenity-rich lifestyle that prioritizes family.

The development is located within a short distance from the Mall of Emirates, the Gold and Diamond Park, and the Global Village. La Fontana is targeted towards investors seeking guaranteed and best rental returns, in case they decide not to move into their new home immediately on gaining possession.

The units are priced in the range of Dh.498,600(starting price for studios) to Dh.1,315,900 (for double bedroom). The new homes would be ready for delivery by 2010, despite the current slowdown in property market, the officials confirmed.

La Fontana offers a range of finance options to individual buyers and investors, in co-operation with Mashreq Bank and HSBC, and Badr Al-Islami Bank for Islamic financing.

Being part of the Arjan Master community, La Fontana includes residences, parks, schools, hotels, offices, retails and community spaces meant for leisure pursuits.

Mizin, the subsidiary of Dubai Holdings, and a member of Tatweer is the master developer of the project, and Arkiplan Consulting Engineers are the project designers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hydra Village Sharjah aimed towards housing 50,000 residents

The leading UAE-based property developer, Hydra Properties, announced plans to develop a new mixed-use project in Sharjah to accommodate a population of 50,000.

The 'Hydra Village Sharjah' will be a landmark development in Sharjah, which will be unveiled during the Acres Middle East Exhibition, due to be held between the 15th and 18th December 2008 at the Expo Center Sharjah, said the CEO of Hydra, Dr. Sulaiman al Fahim.

The project is said to offer 66 percent residential, 14 percent official, and 10.5 percent retail and 9.5 percent hospitality space.

The new Hydra Village Sharjah would be a true blend of modern Arab architecture and sophisticated all-glass elegance. The mixed-use project will comprise a suburban oasis of harmonious family-oriented communities and contrast motifs.

With a total of 1068 townhouses and 3618 apartments spread across eight clusters, customers are provided with the option of choosing between luxurious town houses, modern single, double and triple bedroom apartments, and wonderful terrace apartments.

A luxurious hotel and state-of-the-art offices too, would form a part of the project, offering the much required convenience to the relaxed community. The self-contained village will also include several retail establishments like restaurants, shops, cafes, supermarkets, dining delights, schools, club houses, and Mosques.

The project is located 15kms away from the Sharjah International Airport and 30kms from the center of the city. Being so located, Hydra Village Sharjah will offer dreamlike calmness and relaxation to residents who seek to move away from stressful lifestyles associated with fast-paced city life.

According to Dr. Al Fahim, Acres Middle East is sure to draw the attention of both individual and institutional investors and high net-worth personalities with its unique value propositions and leading architectural design.

Established in 2006, Hydra Properties is a private establishment aimed to offer UAE, the Middle East and the entire world with development concepts that are truly reflected in the various landmark projects of the company.

No project scale-backs or staff cuts: Aldar Properties

Despite the current global financial meltdown, Aldar Properties, the leading realty developer of Abu Dhabi, revealed that it has no plans of holding back any of its projects, or laying off any of its staff to cut costs.

A senior official of the company, who spoke to Gulf News, said that although nobody is immune to the financial turmoil, but all projects planned by the company will continue as planned, and there will be no staff cuts.

The ongoing projects by Aldar in Abu Dhabi, including the Central Market project, Formula 1 track, Al Raha Beach residences, and hotel projects will be completed as scheduled, he added.

The Formula 1 track would be ready by next year to host the Formula 1 race of 2009 on November 1st in Abu Dhabi as planned, he confirmed.

The real estate projects across the company's portfolio are estimated to have exceeded $72bn in value.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dubai residential sector at its "tipping point": HSBC

Dubai housing market could be nearing "tipping point", states HSBC, in its monthly housing index on Thursday.

Despite the rise in housing prices by five percent during the third quarter of this year, in contrary to the drop during the previous month, the overall picture of property sector seems to be that of a rapidly cooling market, the bank reported.

There has been a 36 percent increase in the number of people willing to sell their properties in November, but it seems that investors are turning away from the market, while the market indicates slow growth in prices and there is a scarcity in mortgage availability too, due to the global economic condition.

The said report by HSBC, follows the last month's report by the bank, which said that property prices in Dubai fell by 4 percent between September and October 2008, while the prices of villas tumbled by 19 percent.

Leading property consultant, Colliers International, last week warned that although the residential prices grew 5 percent during third quarter of the year, the values are likely to drop during the final quarter of 2008.

According to the HSBC report, the Abu Dhabi property market, which had been considered a much safer investment option than Dubai, too saw a 1 percent dip in property values

However, the research from the Citigroup, the investment bank, has expressed confidence on Abu Dhabi property market, stating that the emirate has been able to finance all its current projects due to massive budget surplus and sovereign wealth funds, contributed by the soaring oil prices during initial part of the year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dubai realty sector introduced to the 'Swap Shop' concept

The Dubai-based property broker, Smith & Ken has signed three deals this month, under a new concept of 'Swap Shop', wherein property buyers are free to exchange their properties.

The Chief Executive of Smith & Ken, Benjamin J Smith, who spoke to the media, said that when a person is unable to sell his property, he is offered the choice of swapping the property for another one, with a value lower than his current property, thereby offering the person a chance to own another property, while also holding back some extra cash.

Explaining the concept, he went on to say that a client of Smith & Ken, who owned a three bedroom shoreline sea-facing apartment worth Dh.4.5mn, with 2,184 square feet area, was actually in search of a garden home. The agency helped the client in locating a property at Palm Jumeirah, worth Dh.9mn four bedroom villa, with an area of 6500sq. ft., whose owner was looking to sell it.

The agency helped both owners to meet up and signed a deal between them. The advantage of such a deal, in this particular case, was that the person who was swapping his garden home property for the shoreline apartment, got an get hold of extra cash.

The agency charges the buyer and seller one percent of property value as commission. Speaking about the Dubai property market, Smith urged banks and lending institutions to raise the loan-to-value ratios once again, to the earlier 80 to 85 percent level, to reinvigorate sales.

Smith feels that even if prices are dropping in Dubai, it is still an attractive destination considering the investor's return and rental yield.

The value of residential properties in Dubai has climbed 5% during third quarter, when compared to second quarter of this year, while the average price for homes has risen by 7%.

Property values in Abu Dhabi likely to grow

Despite the global economic conditions and the consequent slowdown in UAE property sector, the property values in Abu Dhabi will keep growing in the short-term, revealed the recent research by the Citigroup.

Being the second largest Arab economy, next only to Saudi Arabia, the UAE has plenty of current surpluses and can easily depend on sovereign wealth to cover the financial cost of property projects, despite the poor investment returns in 2008, the Citigroup explained.

But unlike in Dubai, Abu Dhabi outstrips supply for all segments of property sector. At present scarcity of prime office space has led to increase in rents by 40 percent during the period 2005-06, by 10 percent in 2006-07, and 14 percent in 2008.

Despite the huge rental increase, the average prime rates are competitive, considering the global values. The rents in Abu Dhabi are still behind London and Hong Kong, Singapore, Moscow and Tokyo.

The supply in residential sector is expected to surpass demand by 2012. According to Citigroup, the extremely low vacancy rates, high price and rental increases of properties, would continue to boost sales and rents in residential segment. Even the retail sector can relax and enjoy solid increase as long as the existing supply stock lasts.

Pointing to the "Plan Abu Dhabi 2030", which briefs the development framework for Abu Dhabi, the Citigroup noted that is a prime tourist destination with a huge mix of leisure tourists and business travelers. Also, the national spending power contributes to the retail market in Abu Dhabi, as against Dubai which depends on tourist inflows.

Citigroup has the third largest GDP per capita, and given the strong growth forecasts and oil surpluses, it seems that national spending levels seem to continue to rise, the Citigroup explained.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Burj Dubai to remain world's tallest skyscraper atleast for a decade

Burj Dubai Tallest Tower in the World
The global financial crisis has assured that Emaar's Burj Dubai would continue to remain the tallest skyscraper, atleast for a decade, and would keep up the region's pride, say analysts.

Although, several other projects were announced that claimed to surpass Burj Dubai's height, analysts now agree that all such projects would require several billions for completion, and hence, they have all been bought to a halt.

The crisis is expected to govern global lives for the next three to five years, and an additional five years at least, would be required for the towers to surpass the 818 meters final height of Burj Dubai, and hence, it is now safe to say that the astonishing landmark, Burj Dubai, would cement its place as the world's tallest building till 2019.

About four projects have been announced till date to outstrip Dubai. One being the Al Burj Tower by Nakheel in Dubai, the others are the Murjan Tower 1 in Bahrain, Burj Mubarak al-Kabir in Kuwait, and a kilometer high tower for Jeddah by Saudi Arabian Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal.

Located in Business Bay district of Dubai, the Burj Dubai, the tallest man-made structure ever, will be ready for occupation in September 2009. The building, which forms a part of the 2 Square Kilometer development, called 'Downtown Dubai' along the Sheikh Zayed Road at Doha Street, holds records of being the tallest structure, tallest freestanding structure, building with maximum floors, in the world.

Investments in Dubai property sector this year exceeds Dh158bn

The investments in Dubai property sector have crossed Dh.158bn so far this year, revealed experts, after considering the number of sales registrations, leasing and mortgage transactions.

Speaking during the recently held Urban Waterfront Conference, the experts revealed that the global market value of waterfront developments was set to exceed $500bn within next five years.

Housing three Palm projects, The World, and Waterfront, in pipeline, Dubai is set to be one of the major active locations in terms of waterfront developments, the experts revealed.

Although temporarily these projects are on hold, investments in Dubai are continuing to grow. So far, despite the global financial crisis, Dubai has been the most attractive destination for investors around the world till date, with an investment of more than Dh.158bn being invested during the year. This is in comparison to Dh.151bn investments last year, said Ahmet Kayhan, Chief Executive of

As per the figures, the top investor countries in Dubai are India, Saudi Arabia, Russia, UK, Iran, Oman, Canada, Bahrain and Kuwait, apart from few other countries such as Pakistan, Singapore and Afghanistan having invested during the first three quarter of this year.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Property developers offering hot deals to customers

In a bid to keep the real estate industry going, the real estate brokers and developers are said to have begun offering several good payment options, so as to convince end-users into the market.

According to the Chief Executive of Dynasty Zarooni, Kabir Mulchandani, the current short-term problem needs to be tackled, as several buyers do not have access to mortgage or loans. Hence, the company has launched a monthly payment scheme, so that customers could enter the market in a bigger way. The company has also lowered their prices of both freehold and rental properties. Several of their properties have been placed into the rental market from the freehold sales.

"The flexi-payment scheme will help release the stocks, which will get utilized by end-users in the market, as there is a high demand for new supplies in the market," Mulchandani said.

Peter Penhall, the Chief Executive of, an online property portal, said that the market is now correcting itself and there is a liquidity crunch, while the banks are also tightening lending measures. The company has launched a sales campaign for Axis Residences at Dubai Silicon Oasis by GGICO. About 657 units were released and the buyers were allowed to make payments in 100 monthly installments, with three percent down-payment while registering for the property.

Emaar Properties, last month, launched the 'To Own' schemes which were meant to make property purchases much easier for customers. The programmes, titled "Plan to Own" and "Rent to Own" were aimed to strengthen the property sector by enabling easier purchases and making property purchase more affordable for customers.

The Executive Chairman of Omniyat Properties, Mehdi Amjad, also agreed that with mortgages getting harder to obtain these days, his company is also considering new payment plans to motivate customers. Earlier, Omniyat had launched a 50-50 payment plan, wherein 50 percent payment was paid during construction and the rest 50 percent was paid upon completion of the project. The company agrees that a similar payment program would soon be launched.

According to officials, smart marketing techniques, attractive payment schemes, a good price, and a good product, could all help developers to ride out of the current real estate slump.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Deyaar announces handover of Al Seef II units

Al Seef Tower 2
Deyaar Development PJSC, the fastest growing property company in Dubai, has announced that all residential units at Al Seef II will be delivered to home owners in December.

The company had organized an orientation programme to inform the owners about the handover, which is being done ahead of scheduled date.

The orientation programme was organized to update customers with the final documentation procedures, including facilities management contract and amenities at the tower. The orientation was held on 29th November at the Grand Hyatt hotel.

According to Chief Executive Officer of Deyaar, Markus Giebel, the delivery of Al Seef 2 emphasizes the continued commitment by Deyaar towards offering customers with best international quality and service experience and its strict adherence to stipulated time-frames.

Despite the current global challenges, Deyaar continues to focus on business growth and development of iconic communities. Al Seef II is known for its unique architecture and is positioned in one of the most renowned and much sought-after locations in Dubai, offering a world-class lifestyle, Giebel added.

Located at the Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) development, Al Seef II comprises 210 double and triple bedroom apartments and penthouses with lake views. The tower is equipped with modern amenities, including a health club, ample parking space and access to a range of retail amenities.

Located adjacent to Sheikh Zayed Road between Interchange five and six, the Jumeirah Lake Towers includes several high-rise commercial and residential towers. It is located in close proximity to other signature developments such as the Palm Jumeirah, Mall of Emirates, and Emirates Golf Course, and other three major business hubs in Dubai, such as the Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City and the Jebel Ali Free Zone.

The Dh.351.5bn Jumeirah Gardens project by Meraas under review

Meraas Development, the Dubai Government-owned realty company is reviewing the phasing and roll-out of its Dh.351.5bn 'Jumeirah Gardens' project in Satwa district, due to global downturn.

According to a statement by the company, the business strategies and phasing and rollout of Jumeirah Gardens are being reviewed in the most opportune way to cater to the changing requirements of investors.

The mega-project was launched by the company during the Dubai Cityscape exhibition held in October. The project, which had been due for construction over a 12-year period, will include 7 distinct areas, covering 110million square feet of land, including the islands.

One section would comprise the Dubai Park, which will be half the size of Safa Park. The Phase one of the project will cover 820,000 square meters and include low, mid and high-rise office, residential and retail buildings, apart from two hotels and a shopping arena.

It will also include several sky-rise towers, including the 1 Dubai, which is hoped to be one of the largest and tallest buildings in the world.

The Dubai Government has already established a panel to supervise the launch of future realty projects in the emirate, in view of the global economic turmoil. Such a panel has been established for the first time in Dubai.

The panel will however not look at projects that have already been launched, said Nasser Al Shaikh, the Director-General, Dubai Department of Finance.

"No projects will be called off and it will be up to the committee to decide on the launch," Al Shaikh said.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

MAG Tower construction on track

The construction work on the Dh.450mn MAG tower in the Dubai Marina is 75 percent complete, and will be fully completed towards end of 2009, as scheduled.

The MAG 218 residential tower, comprising 555 apartments spreading over 66 storeys, has reached the 45th floor in height.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of the MAG Group, Mohammed Nimer, the company had opened the full-floor show apartments, 18 months prior to handover date, for the owners to view the quality of finish. This emphasizes the commitment by the company towards customers, and their confidence in keeping up to their promise.

The MAG 218 Tower is one of the several freehold residential towers located at the Dubai Marina, opposite the Jumeirah Lake Towers, next to Dubai Media City. The tower has been designed by Dar Al-Handasah, and will be located next to Marina Pinnacle and the Marina Heights.

Covering an area of 36,887 square feet, the 66 storey tower will comprise total of 330 single bedroom and 220 double bedroom units. The units of the Dh.350mn worth tower range from 78 to 167 square meters in size.

The MAG tower has below and above ground parking, podium roof with swimming pool and Jacuzzi, BBQ area, TV room, outdoor terrace, ball room, gymnasiums, and community health club floor with community hall. The top five storeys feature a full glass exterior.

Azizi Investments to continue with Palm Jebel Ali projects as scheduled

Azizi Investments revealed yesterday that none of its projects in the Palm Jebel Ali has been scaled down and that work will continue as scheduled.

The clarification came, following the announcement made by Nakheel that few of its projects in Palm Jebel Ali may be scaled down.

Azizi Investments have a total of five projects planned at the Palm Jebel Ali. The concept design of Azizi Crystal at Crescent A of the Palm received approval last week.

The Company in its statement yesterday, said that the developments at Palm Jebel Ali are located in Crescent A and Crescent E, wherein work by Nakheel is progressing as scheduled.

The land will be handed over to Azizi Investments by Nakheel next year. Crescent A is scheduled to be complete, latest by March, and construction work will commence by April. The project would require 2 years for completion, said a spokesperson from the company.

The land in Crescent E will be handed over by the third quarter of 2009.

The projects by Azizi Investments on the Palm Jebel Ali are the Azizi Diamond, Azizi Fontanne, Azizi Crystal and Azizi Platine on Crescent A, and Azizi Onyx on Crescent E. The company is committed to deliver the project as scheduled.

"We are focusing on quality of design, quality of build and outstanding customer service. We understand the need for Nakheel to scale back on its projects, given the current economic climate, but we are pleased that this does not affect our progress," the company said.

The company also confirmed that it is moving ahead with projects at Mina Rashid and Al Furjan and other Nakheel projects that remain unaffected.

The company also said that the Dh.3.5bn worth construction contract for the 12 plots that it owns at Al Furjan would be awarded soon. The company is under negotiations with various companies, including Arabtec, Al Naboodah and Al Shafar General Contracting for awarding the contract. The soil testing and piling work has been completed.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Current happenings in Dubai Property Sector

    • Mega projects on hold
    • Property companies axe jobs
    • Smaller realty companies planning merger

With Dubai property sector undergoing a transitional phase, companies are reviewing their project strategies, and developers are more cautious with their future investments on projects, as several mega-developments are now being reviewed.

For instance, Nakheel has announced that parts of the Dh.350bn Jumeirah Garden City, the Trump International Hotel, the Tower on Palm Jumeirah, and the kilometer-high tower will be put on hold.

Even work on 'The Universe' will be restricted to preliminary studies, Nakheel said. Decrease in liquidity and financing has led to delay in progress of such projects, resulting in these projects bearing the brunt of financial turmoil. The mega-projects that had earlier brought about a property boom in Dubai, have now been put on hold.

Limitless too, revealed that it is reviewing construction schedule of Arabian Canal. The Head of Dubai's RERA, Marwan bin Galita, said that developers need to review their projects which are yet to be launched for sale. Recession is a very crucial phase, and RERA had been urging developers to do this about a year back, Galita said.

The Chairman of Crisis Management Committee, Mohammad al Abbar, last week said that it would pull back on its building spree due to the current financial crisis. Apart from backing out of its projects, Nakheel has also laid off 500 employees, constituting 15 percent of the company's work-force. All the 500 employees were offered redundancy package, including outplacement support services to assist them during this transitional phase.

Better Homes, Damac and Omniyat too, have followed suit, with Better Homes axing 50 jobs, Omniyat with 69 jobs, and Damac laid off 200 jobs, with the drop in demand for properties.
Meeras however, said that it does not have plans for lay-offs at the moment.

According to analysts, about 819 employees have lost their jobs in the Dubai real estate sector till date, with more to follow. However, the Head of Research and Consultancy at Cluttons, Matthew Green, said that these happenings are not restricted to the realty sector alone, and few other major corporate too, have announced staff reductions.

In the meanwhile, the time is now appropriate for small developers to join hands to bring confidence back into the market, say analysts.

A member of Financial Crisis Committee said that Dubai has been witnessing plenty of defaults on high-end properties with worsening financial conditions, and there are possibilities of merger among smaller developers. Even Head of RERA, Marwan bin Galita, agrees that merger between small companies would bring in more confidence, as good mergers in any sector adds more value to the sector.

The developers, Union Properties and Deyaar, although denied talks about any plans of merger, they were unable to comment on whether the government would order their merger.

Secondary prices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi fell 4 to 5 percent in October from the previous month, while the villa prices of Dubai dropped by 19 percent, under strict lending conditions, according to a recent HSBC statement.

The "off-plan" market is not doing too well, due to market speculations. Few of the banks have stopped financing, while few developers are said to be demanding exorbitant prices. However, the prices of "affordable" off-plan properties may pick-up during second quarter of 2009, if the banks improve on their lending, Bin Galita said.

RERA is likely to implement a new law on registration of off-plan properties next week.

On the whole, Dubai real estate sector has met with stringent mortgage lending measures, liquidity crunch, and real estate slowdown during recent months. The indications of property boom in Dubai, have atleast, temporarily halted, and developers are seen scaling back on their projects, while jobs are cut and property prices have plummeted.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Solanki Holdings forays into UAE property sector

Solanki Holding and Investments Limited, leading UAE-based conglomerate, forayed into proper sector with the launch of their new entity, Solanki Real Estate, projected to invest Dh.12bn into the sector.

Among their landmark developments will be the Dh.9bn worth project at Al Marjan Islands in Ras Al Khaimah.

Comprising 1500 apartments, several commercial units, and 100 villas, spread across 1.5million square feet of retail space, and a hotel, the development is likely to be launched in three phases. It will also include an elaborate shopping mall and several retail outlets.

Phase One is scheduled for launch within next three to four months, depending on market conditions.

Despite the bleak market conditions within the property sector, Solanki is confident that the long-term picture is bright, with the banks sure to facilitate financing.

Other development plans by the company include projects in the International City, Dubailand, Dubai Silicon Oasis and Jumeirah Village.

The Phase One of the International City is worth Dh.80million, comprising 140 units in a 10 storey development. About 60 percent of the project is now complete, said Abdul Rahman Esmail Solanki, the Chairman of the Company.

"We have been operating diverse business in the UAE for 35 years now. We are proud to announce our first real estate venture. The spectacular Al Marjan Islands of RAK has been an obvious location choice for us, which serves as beautiful backdrop for a mixed-use community, while also giving us an opportunity to cater to the growth of the emirate in terms of tourism, activity and population," said Abdulrahman Ismail Solanki, Chairman of Solanki Holdings.

Although Solanki did not announce any immediate launch of projects, they are confident about the GCC market and UAE, in particular, as the fundamentals are all here, said Emad Pattni, the CEO of Solanki Real Estate.

JBR's Murjan cluster, the heart of emerging New Dubai

The Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) by Dubai Properties is said to be the centre to New Dubai. Consequently, the Murjan cluster is the heart of the emerging New Dubai.

JBR comprises 36 residential towers, divided into six clusters -Murjan, Amwaj, Rimal, Bahar, Sadaf and Shams, that offers studios, single, double, triple and four bedroom apartments to penthouses to terraced apartments, duplex apartments, loft apartments with garden.

Located along the edge of Dubai and Jebel Ali, Murjan is away from the pounding traffic of Deira, Sharjah and Bur Dubai. It takes less than an hour to reach Abu Dhabi from Murjan.

Murjan, a part of JBR, is a freehold property, built last year. The towers are of top quality comprising sleek studios, double bedroom, four bedroom and penthouses.

Murjan also offers 'The Walk', a village comprising jewelry stones, beach clubs, bespoke tailors, high-end restaurants and night clubs. This is apart from access to several gyms and private beach and luxury living for the layman. Apart from the said, for the shopping lovers, the Mall of Emirates and the Ibn Battutta Mall are located adjacent to Murjan locality.

The six clusters of JBR offers other amenities such as the Saville Row and Saks Fifth Avenue and low-cost food outlets located on the plaza level of Murjan. Two of the gymnasiums are already open, and three more are likely to be opened by the first quarter of next year. There is also personalized taxi service, secure parking and crèche on the offer.

Al Madar Group launches the Dh1.4bn Suhail Tower

Suhair tower at Madinat Arab
A leading property developer in GCC, Al Madar Investments, an arm of the Al Madar Group, has launched the Dh.1.4bn worth residential project, the 'Suhail Tower', at the Madinat Al Arab area of Dubai Waterfront.

The 47 storey tower with studios, single, double and triple bedroom apartments is expected to be complete by 2011. The apartments would consist of state-of-the-art home automation system, swimming pools, badminton court, gymnasium, cafes, retail outlets and concierge services.

According to the Sales and Marketing Director of Al Madar Investments, Keith Pepperdine, the ideal location of Suhail Tower is a major aspect for its selling point.

Speaking during the launch of the tower, he pointed out that the project is located in tranquil surroundings in close proximity to several major destinations in Dubai, offering wonderful views over the Arabian Gulf from all levels, with the open Parkland and Canal running alongside the back of the project.

Suhail Tower is the latest inclusion to Al Madar's portfolio. The other major projects by the developer in Dubai are the mixed-use development 'Coopet' in Arjan in Dubailand, the 'Siraj Tower' also located in Arjan, the 'Bellagio Tower' a commercial development in Liwan at Dubailand, and a residential tower called Scala Tower at Business bay.

Madinat al Arab is one of the ten locations in the Dubai Waterfront, being developed by an international group of planners, architects and developers. The area is poised to be the new downtown of Dubai and Central Business District. It will feature residential, commercial, retail spaces and resorts, linked by an integrated transport system.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dubai developers defer sale of new properties

Leading developers in Dubai are putting on hold the sales of their properties, until the situation improves in the real estate market of the emirate.

Nakheel's Palm Jebel Ali- Project Director, Ali Mansour, said that they plan to reassess sales strategies in light of the prevailing market conditions. "We are reviewing everything now, and have no new plans for the near future," said Ali Mansour.

Palm Jebel Ali is the second project of the Palm trilogy developed by Nakheel, located in the center of Jebel Ali, close to Al Maktoum International Airport and the Dubai Waterfront development. Featuring signature villas, garden villas, luxury apartments, town homes and penthouses, it is expected to house a population of 300,000.

Limitless has also not launched the sales of its Arabian Canal project. The Project Director for the Arabian Canal, Rainelan Raine, said that the company is watching the market carefully, and will judge the right time to commence sales.

"There is a huge interest in the Arabian Canal project but, the sales will have to wait," Raine said. Arabian Canals is one of the longest man-made canals, the excavation of which, will begin near Dubai Marina, and will flow inland around the Al Maktoum International Airport. Financing for the first stage of the project has already been completed, the developer said.

The Dubai-based real estate developer, Rufi Real Estate too, said that it is reviewing its strategies and has postponed the launch of few of its realty projects until the second quarter of 2009.

The developer was due to launch two of its residential towers in Meydaan and The World, where, three islands had been purchased. But, it has deferred all that for now. Rufi expressed hope about real estate prices picking up towards middle of 2009 in the emirate.

Major Abu Dhabi firms join together to launch new mortgage finance provider

Major investment, real estate and finance companies in Abu Dhabi have joined together to announce the launch of Abu Dhabi Finance, a new entity formed to serve the real estate market of the emirate, and to serve the demand for mortgage finance by consumers.

The Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Mubadala Development Company, Aldar, Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) and Sorouh Real Estate PJSC are the shareholders of the new finance company, which will initially offer mortgages to
buyers in the emirate.
The companies are estimated to represent about more than two-thirds of the new units under-construction in Abu Dhabi.

With a capital of Dh.500million, the objective of the company is to help Abu Dhabi meet its long-term strategies of sustainable economic growth by financing the growing demand for real estate.

Following one year of planning, Abu Dhabi Finance has been launched with a complete range of mortgage products to appeal to a wide range of borrowers.

The Chairman of Abu Dhabi Finance, Ali Eid Al Mehairi, said "The huge demand for real estate in Abu Dhabi implies that there would be greater demand for mortgage financing. Our team has been working towards creating attractive, innovative mortgage products to meet requirements of all types of homeowners."

Abu Dhabi Finance plan to offer mortgages with a range of benefits, including loan-to-value ratios of up to 85 percent, flexible payment methods, loan terms between three and thirty years, and debt service ratios of up to 55 percent.

The Chief Executive of Abu Dhabi Finance, Philip Ward, said "We are aiming to become the leading supplier of mortgage products. We have invested heavily in developing our products and in training our Mortgage Advisors, so that clients can rest assured about getting the right mortgage for them."

Ritaj Community development, up for sale

Dubai Investments Real Estate Company (DIREC), one of the largest investment companies listed in the UAE Stock Exchange, in partnership with, the leading global property lifestyle brand in the region, have announced sales of the latest phase of the Ritaj Community development.

The construction of this unique five-storey project is progressing as scheduled towards its completion and handover to purchasers during June 2009, the official spokesman revealed.

The project comprising 360 studio units would be just right for small families and local companies seeking alternatives to rising rents and operating costs. The prices of apartments begin with Dh.498,000 with a down payment of just2.5 percent.

Ritaj is targeted towards end-users seeking to convert their rent payments into ownership of an appreciating asset and corporations seeking to convert their HRA (Housing Rent Allowance) into a capital asset.

The payment plan permits a payment of just 25 percent to be paid during construction period and the rest 75 percent to be paid at the time of handover, funded through readily available mortgage facility.

A sprawling service wing facility at the ground floor is one of the most enviable features of the development, which the residents are bound to enjoy, in addition to common amenities such as the gymnasium and swimming pool.

The project, along with community as a whole, has the advantage of being in close proximity to the amenities of Green Community, including its shopping arcade, restaurants, supermarket, and The Marriott Courtyard hotel.

Designed by Al Jabal Engineering Consultants, the residents of Ritaj get to enjoy necessary amenities as it forms a part of a fully equipped community center planned by DIRC, and hence can gain access to cafes, restaurants, supermarket, shops, pharmacy, Mosque, clinic, games room and theatre-style movie room.

The Center would be the focal point for residents offering essential services during the day, followed by relaxation and entertainment services offered in the evening.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Developers waive-off 30 percent payment before re-sale of units

Emaar Properties has waived off the clause of paying 30 percent of the total property value before sale of their units in the markets.

According to the Chief Executive of Blu Realty International, Amr Soliman, the restriction of 30 percent payment of total property value before sale of units, no longer exists. Yet, another realty agent is also said to have waived off the clause.

The transfer and sale of off-plan properties was so far permitted only after the 30 percent of total property value had been paid, and no transfer was permitted until the payment was done. According to Emaar, this move was adopted to ensure that the investors and end-users purchasing their properties are genuine.

Early this month, Emaar launched two more payment schemes. One of the schemes permitted property payments for more than five years after handover. Another allowed potential investors to rent a property before they take a decision on whether to purchase it or not. This was done to offer investors with more options and revive property sales.

Property developer, Union Properties, however, has not announced any change, but, has stated that the company will not permit buyers to re-sell their units until they have paid atleast 20 percent of their property value.

On the other hand, Deyaar Development Company, revealed that the company has never insisted on any percentage payment before permitting resale, rather, it emphasizes on certain amount of down payment only.

Tameer, Omniyat, Emaar axe jobs

Leading UAE-based developer Tameer has announced job lay-offs involving half of its workforce in view of the slowdown in the UAE property sector caused by the global financial turmoil.

Tameer handed over redundancy notices to about 180 employees last week. The company has a total of 350 employees. The main projects by the developer include the Podium in Dubailand, Platinum Towers in Business Bay, Tameer Towers in Al-Reem Island in Abu Dhabi.

The news of job cuts came on the same day when Omniyat Properties confirmed job cuts affecting one-third of its workforce, in order to ride out the real estate downturn. The company axed 69 jobs, and also called back few of its previously announced projects.

Damac Holding, the largest property developer in Dubai, also announced plans to lay off 200 employees.

In the meanwhile, the Chairman of Emaar Properties, Mohammed Ali Alabbar, said that there are possibilities of redundancies, due to the current slowdown witnessed in the market.

The financial crisis has hit the demand for properties in Dubai from foreign investors, which constitute the bulk of buyers, while tightening liquidity has made home financing seem more difficult.

According to reports by HSBC, the property prices in Dubai fell 4 percent between September and October this year, with the villa prices dropping by 19 percent.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nakheel's Forbidden City Phase I contract awarded to Gammon & Billimora

Forbidden city from NakheelNakheel's new project in International City, namely, the 'Forbidden City' has been awarded for construction of its first phase, to Gammon and Billimoria.

The new affordable housing cluster draws inspiration from the legendary Royal Court Palace of Imperial China. Forbidden City will comprise 4000 low-rise studio, single and double bedroom apartments. Located at the core of the development will be a landscaped vista, leading its way to an ornate grand Mosque, the spiritual centerpiece of the community.

The work on the development, which began last April would be complete by 2011. The project would be completed in four phases.

The prices of studio is nearly Dh.730,000 while that of single bedroom apartments would be Dh.950,000 and double bedroom would bear a starting price of Dh.1.4million.

According to Rashid Obaid Al Helli, General Manager, Nakheel's International City, about 40 percent of the units at the Forbidden City have already been sold out. Here, a buyer is forbidden to purchase more than three properties, so as to eliminate speculators and help end-users enter the market.

However, Nakheel plans to retain few rental units in the project. Apart from 40,000 homes, the project includes 50 retail stores, restaurants, food outlets, boutiques and internet cafes. The close proximity to the Dragon Mart (the wide range of Chinese merchandise outside mainland China) and the Lake District (a well-planned residential community offering wonderful views of Al Warsan Lake) are few other attractions for residents. The Al Warsan Lake is one of the few freshwater wetlands in UAE, housing 190 species of birds, including the rarest ever known to Arabian Peninsula. Nakheel plans to introduce suitable amenities here, which would enable public to enjoy the wildlife there.

Gammon & Billimoria LCC is the new joint-venture company by two of the leading Indian construction companies, who have joined hands in Dubai, and is all set to undertake general construction projects in the UAE and GCC countries, with their immense wealth of experience on all kinds of civil and building engineering works.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Landmark project Atlantis, The Palm officially launched amidst grand ceremony

Atlantis Resort at Palm Jumeirah
The official launch ceremony of the Atlantis at Palm Jumeirah has created landmarks in Dubai.
The entire island of the Palm Jumeirah and its flagship resort Atlantis, The Palm, were lit up with a display of fireworks tonight, which marked the official launch of this iconic landmark resort.

A note-worthy guest line of 2000 or more from across the globe were seen during the inaugural ceremony, including the music legend -Kylie Minogue, the Middle East pop sensation -Nawal, Bollywood actoress -Priyanka Chopra, Mary-Kate Olsen, Charlize Theron, Lindsay Lohan, Agyness Deyn, Petra Nemcova, Dame Shirley Bassey, John Abraham, Rani Mukherjee, Preity Zinta, Janet Jackson, Robert DeNiro, Mischa Barton, Michael Jordan, Bipasha Basu, Boris Becker, The Duchess of York, the Dubai Royal Family and Lily Allen.

The display of fireworks across the full 520 kilometers stretch of Palm Jumeirah, lit up the entire island and Atlantis resort, creating a display visible from space. Custom-made shells shipped in from across the globe, created a light spectacle taking off from the 716 firing locations around the island, including 400 balconies at the resort.

The display followed an unprecedented high definition video illumination sequence, beginning with the Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra, who enacted as The Goddess of Atlantis.

Guests dined on signature dished made by the multi Michelin-starred chefs of the Atlantis.
Sol Kerzner, the Chairman and CEO of Kerzner International, said "Atlantis, The Palm is the realization of a vision shared with our partners at Nakheel. Tonight was a landmark event for us, and we thank worldwide guests for coming here to be a part of this occasion."

The Chairman of Dubai World and Executive Chairman of Nakheel, H.E. Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, said "The partnership between Nakheel and Kerzner is a testament of the belief in Dubai having grown to be one of the top destinations in the world. Atlantis has come to the right place, and we invite all visitors of Dubai to revel in the magnificent entertainment, hospitality and service it has to offer."

The guests also had the opportunity to rejoice themselves in the various activities that the resort had to offer, including the Aquaventure Water Park, Dolphin Bay, Atlantis Spa, The Lost Chambers, and the Royal Pool of the resort.

An exclusive cocktail party was hosted in the Royal Towers Lobby, and the even concluded with a culinary tour dinner on Friday night at the resort's restaurants, followed by an after party at the private night club, Sanctuary, at the resort.

Amlak, Tamweel merge to form new entity

Two leading real estate finance providers of UAE, Tamweel and Amlak Finance PJSC, would merge into a new entity under the umbrella of Real Estate Bank, the Ministry of Finance announced. The merger is hoped to create a strong unit likely to be a major boos to Dubai property finance market.

The merger would match international standards, following involvement of all financial and legal formalities, separate assessment and approval for integration between the companies.

The Chairman of Tamweel, Shaikh Khalid Bin Zayed Bin Saqr Al Nahyan, said that the merged unit would boost the confidence of investors in both financial and property sectors in the UAE.

Mohammed Alabbar, a member of ruling council of the Gulf emirate and Chairman of Emaar Properties, speaking about a four way tie-up between the two Dubai-based Islamic lenders, the Real Estate Bank and the Emirates Industrial Bank, said that the new entity would be called 'Emirates Development Bank'.

The new entity would be supported by capital and funding, Alabbar assured. According to the Finance Ministry, the merger is a major landmark development for the UAE financial market. It will form a new entity that serves as cornerstone of the real estate finance market, which has great fundamentals.

RERA announces new online software for off-plan sales transactions

Dubai's RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority) announced that all real estate companies in Dubai should henceforth use the new online software 'Oqood' for off-plan property sales and transactions.

Any off-plan property sales through registered agents or brokers with RERA should be done online using the software through the agency. The software will offer a unified template of property sales contracts between sellers and buyers, duly designed and approved by the Agency.

The property developers are given a time period of three months to train their employees on this new system. The training will be provided by Emirates Real Estate Solutions (ERES), who designed the software.

In the opinion of Sultan Butti bin Mijrin, Director General, Land Department, and developer of the Oqood system, this is an important tool to regulate the property market.

Habtoor Group announces sale of Harbour Island Resort & Spa apartments

For the first time, Habtoor Group has announced sale of its 24 freehold apartments of 'Harbour Island Resort & Spa' development on the Crescent, at the Palm Jumeirah.

Habtoor Residence and Spa
The announcement was made by Mohammed K. Al Habtoor, the Chief Executive of the group.
The project, currently estimated to be worth of Dh1.2billion, may go up further, depending on prices of materials. The apartments of this exclusive project, has all the amenities of a hotel. Depending on the demand for the project, more units will be offered, Al Habtoor said.

The Habtoor Island will house 6-7 restaurants, out of which one of the biggest will be managed by a UK firm. The Chairman of the group, Khalaf Al Habtoor said that the company aims to offer a property that would gain recognition as one of the finest developments in the plant. The company is also aiming for LEED Gold Rating certification for its environmental friendliness.

"The fact that we are committed to deliver an unparalleled lifestyle is evident now, as we have allocated 70 percent of the development towards gardens and water features," Al Habtoor pointed out.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nakheel tops list of property owners at The Big 5 event

The Big 5, one of the world's largest trade fair for the construction industry in the Arabian Gulf and the associated suppliers, was unveiled on 23rd November 2008 at the Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Center.

The five-day event involves participation of 53 countries with more than 3000 exhibiting companies with $800bn worth of construction projects and about 50,000 visitors from around the world. The organizers of The Big 5 event, dmg World Media Dubai, revealed the top five owners, managers, contractors, financiers and architects involved in the construction projects of the UAE.

Out of the tables released today, companies from the UAE, Belgium, Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom, India and Australia, are among the top in terms of ranking of the value of projects with which they are associated.

Leading real estate developer in Dubai, Nakheel tops the list of property owners in the UAE, with Dh.360.44billion worth projects, revealed the organizers. The biggest projects by Nakheel are the Palm Deira, the World, Nakheel Harbour, Dubai Waterfront and Tower development.

This is followed by a Belgian dredging company who is the Principal Contractor, the US-based Hill International tops the Project Managers list, the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank leads the Project Financiers list, and the Australian firm tops the list of Project Architects with the development of a small emirate of Umm Al Quwain.

The civil construction projects continue to dominate projects that are currently in progress, topped by Jumeirah Gardens ($95bn), Dubailand ($54bn), Palm Deira ($40bn), Yas Island ($38bn) and White Bay Umm Al Quwain ($29bn).

The rankings are done on the basis of analysis of active construction projects that are currently in progress in the UAE across all sectors including oil and gas, civil construction, water, power, industrial and petrochemical sectors contained within the database of Proleads, the Research Partner of The Big 5.

Damac's The Crescent development close to completion

The Crescent Tower and IMPZ
Damac Properties, the leading Dubai-based developer said that their The Crescent project is nearing completion, and is the first project to be finished at the International Media and Production Zone, Dubai.

According to a company statement, the customers are now carrying on final inspections of their apartments, in co-ordination with the Damac Properties Customer Relations Management Team. The occupants can move into their new homes in December.

The completion of 'The Crescent' follows the completion of Lake View project, the second tower to be completed by Damac in Jumeirah Lake Towers.

The Crescent development comprising three storeys is located adjacent to Emirates Road, amidst green landscaping. The development which include studio, single and double bedroom apartments is completely sold out. All apartments are designed with an innovative floor plan so as to catch a glimpse of the wonderful surrounding landscape.

According to Peter Riddoch, the CEO of Damac, this marks a significant step for Damac Properties, and contributes to the double achievement of two of the properties being finished within weeks of each other.

He added that the company is eagerly awaiting to welcome its first residents, while also simultaneously focusing on delivery of their third property Terra Del Sol at Discovery Gardens, which is also due for completion by the end of this year.

Damac Properties awarded a total of Dh.2.5bn worth contracts during the first nine months of this year.

Master developers getting more lenient with property developers

Eager to put an end to the confusion and panic prevailing currently in the market, the master developers are said to be offering payment extensions to property developers in Dubai.

A developer in Dubai, when speaking to the media, revealed that when they requested their master developer to defer their land payment, they were readily granted a three-month extension.

The extension granted was for a plot of land on the waterfront development, for which, the developer had remitted 50 percent of total value at the time of purchase.

In the meanwhile, the infrastructure projects in Dubai, such as the plans by Roads and Transport Authority and the new Al Maktoum International Airport in Jebel Ali, would all proceed as stipulated in Dubai Strategic Plan 2015.

According to Nasser Al Shaikh, the Director General of Dubai Department of Finance, a growth rate of 11 percent annually, is expected until 2015, but with the current situation, Dubai would continue to witness economic growth, although at lower rates.

The government and financial institutions are getting highly transparent in their operations and transactions. This is more evident, with Dubai initiating new laws to regulate its banking and property sectors, and this is no-doubt a positive outcome of the global crisis.

Palm Jumeirah property prices plummet 40 percent

Inflated property prices on the Palm Jumeirah have plummeted 40 percent, real estate brokers reveal.

However, villas and apartments are still selling at prices higher than original. Most property owners are hurrying up to sell their properties, said Robert Macnair, Sales Director, Elysian Real Estate.

The urgency could be due to the fact that there is a large payment coming up, or the market has dropped over the last few months. The Executive Director of ETA Star, Abid Junaid, said that the current downturn is a reflection of the market correcting itself, and this is a good thing, with the prices getting more realistic.

However, in the opinion of Amlak, the mortgage lender, it is temporarily halting new mortgages and rubbing salt in the wound. This could prove counterproductive, as this is the time to channel more funds into mortgages so that end-users can purchase, said Junaid.

According to few analysts however, this scenario does not reflect the sliding property market. Others are confident that it is a temporary condition, which is likely to be resolved soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Property agents optimistic about Dubai property market

Several property agents in Dubai predict a bright property market, with the sector expected to pick-up within next six months.

The CEO of Dubai Properties, Mohammed Binbrek, said that the current issue is more due to public sentiment, than due to liquidity or resource availability. Once the fears and concerns of the people are addressed, the business would return to normal.

The same optimism was seen among the respondents of a survey, involving 170 Dubai-based property agents, out of which 77 percent felt that the issues currently plaguing the Dubai real estate sector would vanish in six months time.

Pointing out to other markets, the Managing Director of Better Homes, Ryan Mahoney, said that the markets had a slow phase for a couple of months, and then improved in terms of transactions, depending on the availability of financial lending.

But Mahoney predicts that although the transactions may not rise to previous levels within next six months, the prices would stop falling, and then grow again, which may take about a year.

Middle East to account for 50 percent of global waterfront projects

Out of Dh.1.84trillion global waterfront projects, about 50 percent would be accounted to by the region. According to industry analysts these projects are in pipeline for next five years.

With more than 50 percent of the projects in hand, UAE tops the list of global waterfront projects, said Gavin Boyd, the Director of Palm Deira development.

During the early 1990s Dubai had only 70kms of coastline. This is expected to go up to 1000kms by 2015, revealed Hamad Bin Mejren, the Executive Director of Business Tourism at the Department of Tourism and Commerce, Dubai.

Companies will be glad to move their headquarters to waterfront destinations, said Boyd, who was speaking during the Urban Waterfront Conference.

According to Al Mejren, the waterfront developments would be a major boost to tourism and their contribution to Dubai's GDP. The residential and land real estate will be split equally, and waterfront projects would attract more commercial buyers. This is mainly due to the fact that waterfront projects such as the Palm Deira will help ease the clogged traffic even in busiest areas of Dubai, Boyd said.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dubai Tower named as one of the Best 50 inventions of the Year

Dynamic tower in Dubai
The worlds first rotating skyscraper, 'The Dynamic Tower', has been named as one among the "Best 50 inventions of the Year" by the TIME Magazine, due to its revolutionary design and innovation.

Created by David Fisher, the renowned Italian architect, the tower was one of the first choices in a list of ground-breaking inventions. Every floor of the tower rotates independently so as to form a building that constantly changes its shape and appearance, resulting in a unique and evolving architectural landmark.

The environment-friendly tower is the first building to be completely self-powered with wind turbines, positioned horizontally between each floor. The photovoltaic cells on the roof of each rotating floor, produces solar energy.

The Dynamic Tower in Dubai will also be the first high-rise to be built completely from prefabricated parts that are custom-built in a workshop and then installed on site.

This method comes with several benefits, including environmentally clean on-site construction, reduced time and cost of construction, less onsite accidents. Residents of the tower can park their cars at the entrance of the apartments with voice activated systems.

The residents can get a glimpse of the world rotating around them when looking through the glass wall of the buildings. These buildings will also be the first wherein construction begins at the top, with each floor mechanically installed from top to bottom.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wasl plans expansion of key projects in Dubai

The Dubai Real Estate Corporation (DREC)-owned asset management group, 'Wasl', announced plans for expansion initiatives for several landmark properties in Dubai. This is a part of its directive to monitor and ensure the sustainable development of property sector for Dubai Government.

The HSBC Bank building in the Bani Yas market and the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) are few of the properties likely to witness a new dimension under the latest plan by Wasl, which focuses on hospitality, tourism and healthcare sectors.

Even the Ras Al Khor area will be revamped bringing about 2500 residential units on stream for Wasl employees. The project will be completed in 18 months.

The asset management group is conducting a thorough study of the tourism sector to identify projects, including the star hotels, so as to meet the objective of Dubai in attracting 15 million visitors towards the year 2015.

According to Hesham Al Qassem, CEO of Wasl and DREC, Dubai is beginning to gain a strong foothold on the global tourist landscape and is one of the most frequented destinations. Hence, it is vital that the status of Dubai be complemented by giving a fresh impetus to key developments.

"Our current efforts will help in successfully bridging any demand-supply disparity and price fluctuations by equipping Dubai to accommodate the increasing number of residents over the next couple of years," said Qassem.

The demand for commercial space in Dubai has increased considerably, which reflects the robust growth in real estate sector.

"Wasl is keen to service the growing demand for storage and commercial space from light and heavy industries, which emphasizes the increased trade activity in Dubai," Qassem added.

At present, Wasl manages a customer-base of 20,000 in residential and industrial sectors, including 5000 industrial land plots, 15,000 residential units and several hotels and entertainment amenities.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New online facility for interim property registrations launched in Dubai

The Dubai Land Department, the government body which monitors land-related affairs and private properties within the emirate, together with RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Authority), has announced the official launch of 'OQOOD', the new online application that enables the implementation of Law No.13 of 2008, which regulates the interim real estate register in Dubai.

The announcement, which came during an introductory seminar organized by the Dubai Land Department and RERA, organized for benefit of property developers in the emirate. The Dubai-based KM Properties sponsored the event.

Assistant Director General Excellence & Organization Governance, Mohammed Sultan Thani, said that Dubai has witnessed the issuance of real estate laws that prioritize the interest of country and all industry stakeholders. The laws aim to create trust in the market, attract foreign investment and sustain the growth of the sector. The latest law focuses on interim real estate register.

Developed by Emirates Real Estate Solutions for the Dubai Land Department, the process of 'OQOOD' online interim registration process will help minimize conflicts between developers, sellers and investors, while also reducing the growth of off-plan sales and reselling costs.

Charges levied by the Dubai Land Department would remain the same one percent of total value paid by seller, and the one percent paid by consumer.

According to analysts, the new registration scheme will bring about higher transparency levels and eventually create an online Propety Price Index (PPI).

The Chief Executive of Emirates Real Estate Solutions, Ahmad Al Qaizi, said that the online launch would facilitate availability of detailed data on private proprietorship of all properties that have been sold off-plan in Dubai.

It will protect the rights of customers by safe-guarding development against any manipulation, and also safeguards the interest of developers, investors and end-users and the government. The move also depicts seriousness from the end of government in raising transparency, Qaizi said.

About 80,000 units or more have already been registered through the online registration facility so far.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Panel established to monitor future real estate projects

With property slowdown hitting the emirate, a committee has been established by the Dubai Government to monitor future real estate projects.

The Panel constitutes master and private developers with the intention of securing future supply. No projects would be called off and the committee will decide on anything to be launched only in the future, he said.

Fears of property sector slowing down have been worsened by the global financial crisis, and this has made financing harder to come by and led to project delays.

The biggest developer of the Arab world, Emaar Properties, when speaking to the media, mentioned that it would provide more time to customers to repay their mortgages, given the lending conditions among local banks.

However, a 9 to 13 percent slow down is likely due to the current global recession, said Emaar Chairman, Mohammed Alabbar.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dubai property market slowdown may be short-lived: Experts

With the ongoing speculation in the property market, coupled with the liquidity squeeze which gripped the local banking sector, the Dubai property sector has come to a halt, and fewer people are seen investing on new properties.

A "dramatic slowdown" is likely in the short-term, as property developers such as Nakheel and Emaar will find it difficult in securing new financing, reports the Gulf News.

However, the projects that have already commenced and have already made commitments with financial institutions will continue, despite the financial turmoil, as the local banking system in the UAE has already been injected with liquidity.

According to industry sources, the current drop in real estate does not seem long-lasting. Although at present the property prices have eased a bit, the forthcoming slowdown in construction will reduce supply, which in turn, would drive up the prices again.

The Chief Executive of Rasmala Investments, a networking event with Dubai Property Sector, Ali Al Shihabi, agrees that there is little demand for real estate at present, as the investors are cautious and are awaiting prices to drop further. The Banks also do not have much capital to finance the development of new properties.

However, for an investor, this would be the best time to buy. Existing projects would continue. Major developers would continue their work, although at a reduced level. Dubai already has solid work for the next three years, and the current slowdown in supply would once again generate demand and increase in prices, during the next few years, Al Shihabi said.

The Resident Partner of Property Consultancy firm Cluttons, Ronald Hinchey, said that the slump in real estate activity may be due to the lack of liquidity in Banks and the reduction in loan-to-value ratios.

People are finding it difficult to borrow money for property as the mortgage providers have lowered their loan-to-value ratios to 50 to 70 percent from the earlier 80 to 90 percent. The lending institutions too have committed funds on properties that are under construction.

Al Shihabi pointed out that Dubai has been hit by its own financial turmoil this year, due to the downfall of major financial institutions such as the Lehman Brothers in the US. During the first six months of the year, an influx of several billion dollars from global financial institutions has been common.

The Golf Community by Tiger Woods Dubai nearing completion

A member of Tatweer Dubai, The Tiger Woods, revealed that the construction work on the 55million square feet golf community development is heading towards its scheduled completion by the end of 2009.
Tiger Woods Golf Community
The project has met with considerable progress across all facets of development, including the Al Ruwaya Golf Course, the world's first to accept design cues from the Champion Golfer. A boutique hotel and a club house designed by Elie Saab are also coming as per plan.

According to The Tiger Woods Dubai, there is a huge demand ever-since the launch of sales in July and the development is drawing good end-users and investor response.

The Project Director of The Tiger Woods Dubai, Abdulla Al Gurg, said that the timely progress made by the company indicates the commitment by the company to deliver promises not only with regard to completion dates, but also with creating a development which would be one of the much sought after golf destinations in the world.

A major component that has registered a steady progress is the Al Ruwaya Golf Course, wherein the 13 holes have been rough shaped and detailed shaping is in progress on nine of the holes. Irrigation, landscape and drainage is being installed on the first few holes.

Construction of lakes is also making progress inline with the proposed date of complete of the golf course.

The final design stages for the exclusive 360,000 square foot luxury boutique hotel is being finalized, with the construction of exclusive hotel, due to commence next month. It would near completion towards fourth quarter of 2010.

The Tiger Woods Dubai has also recently entered into a deal with the renowned three-star Michelin Chef Guy Savoy for a signature restaurant, his first ever debut in the Middle East at the boutique hotel.

The hotel will include 90 suites, 14 bungalows in the range of 1300 to 9500 square feet. Spreading across a 10,000 square foot oasis-style swimming pool and spa, the hotel targets the top-tier clients.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

75% of Axis Residence Phase III units sold within days of launch

The Gulf General Investment Company (GGICO) has announced that 75 percent of all its units in the third phase of the Axis Residence Project, have been sold within days after its launch. The project is located in the attractive location of Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO).

Axis Residence Dubai
According to the company, the special financing solutions developed by the company has increased the attractiveess of the opportunity, with the option of making installment payments over a 100 months period, and a down payment of just three percent.

This offer makes the project more economic-friendly, making it fall into the range of medium and low income segments.

The General Manager of GGICO, Simon Philip, says that the company aims to inspire confidence in the company's products, making them more accessible to customers, particularly, when several other financial institutions are refusing to extend credit, due to the global credit crunch.

Launched in 2007, the Axis Residence project has drawn plenty of investors, given its attractive location, and high quality of building. The third phase of the project, comprising eight towers, spans across an area of 1.3million square feet, and is worth a total value of Dh.1.2billion.

The towers are renowned for their reasonable pricing and vary in size from single to three bedrooms, and have the necessary amenities incorporated such as fitness center and swimming pool.

Shortage in supply of housing to ease out within 4 yrs in Abu Dhabi

The demand for Abu Dhabi property units will be met in four years time, said Urban Planning Council General Manager, Falah Al Ahbabi.

Speaking to delegates at MEED Abu Dhabi Conference, Al Ahbabi said that the economy is growing at a rapid pace, but the infrastructure and buildings in Abu Dhabi will take atleast four years.

The developers are being pressurized and we are confident about solving the issue. The prices will stabilize and supply would come online, he said.

Shortage in supply of units is a fact, and has been an issue over the past two years. This shortage would continue for next 3-4 years, by which the demand and supply would meet, agreed Al-Ahbabi.

As per last month's report by Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce, Abu Dhabi has a shortage of minimum 28,000 housing units this year, and this has pushed up rents, and the total demand for units would touch 70,000 by 2010.

The population of Abu Dhabi is currently more than a million and has been growing at 7 percent a year.