Cityscape Abu Dhabi

Exhibitors tell PW they expect a banner year for the capital’s real estate marketImage Credit: Supplied

There has been a lot of activity in Abu Dhabi’s property market in the past year, with much more projects in the pipeline. Residential property sales, in particular, increased by an average of 25 per cent last year, according to Informa Exhibitions, organiser of Cityscape Abu Dhabi, the international real estate exhibition taking place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre next week.

Buoyed by the real estate boom, the exhibition expects a 10-20 per cent increase in the number of visitors. There will be more than 120 exhibitors showcasing new developments and projects.

“Last year, Cityscape Abu Dhabi welcomed a total of 15,568 participants from 68 countries,” says Wouter Molman, Director of Cityscape Group at Informa Exhibitions. “In March, we announced that preregistered visitors were 26 per cent up versus the same time last year, signifying the largest number since 2010 and underscoring the positive sentiment that now pervades the UAE capital’s property market.

“While preregistration figures are not a perfect indicator of actual visitor numbers, it certainly gives us the confidence that visitor numbers will increase 10-20 per cent.”

Molman further says: “The Abu Dhabi government’s $100 billion [Dh367.3 billion] investment surge in housing, schools, transport and other projects will transform the emirate into an integrated, cosmopolitan global city. As such, Abu Dhabi’s residential, retail, hospitality and office sectors are all showing positive signs.”

Around 16 per cent of  preregistered visitors at Cityscape Abu Dhabi are looking to invest in residential property, up 20 per cent year-onyear. A further 8 per cent are looking to buy their own home, an increase of 24 per cent and reflecting a more long-term outlook with more end users in the market.

Abu Dhabi’s retail sector is also starting to mature, on the back of increased consumer spending and a surge in tourism.

“There is about 2 million sq m of retail space in Abu Dhabi. The World Trade Centre Mall and the Eastern

Mangroves Promenade were the major deliveries last year. Yas Mall, Capital Mall and Nation Towers will be the headline openings this year,” says Molman.

The 2.8 million tourists to Abu Dhabi last year, a 40 per cent increase, have put the emirate’s hospitality sector on the map, adds Molman, driving hotel development in the emirate.

“Abu Dhabi currently has 18,500 hotel rooms, with the Capital Centre Arjaan by Rotana, Novotel and Adagio in Bustan Complex expected to open this year,” says Molman.

Turkey will have the largest representation at the fair with at least ten Turkish developers highlighting new projects and developments such as the Torunlar, Bakyapi, FCC and Viatrans.

Major local developers are also taking a centre stage at the event, including Aldar, Mubadala, the Urban Planning Council, Al Maabar, Manazel, Wahat Al Zaweya, Bloom and Eshraq. New exhibitors and those returning after being away include Masdar, Tamouh, Baniyas, Farglory, Flash Properties, Hydra Properties, Ejadah Asset Management Group and Emirates Steel.

Exhibitors are unanimous in saying they are looking to capitalise on opportunities that have emerged in Abu Dhabi and the wider region.

“Emirates Steel sold three million tonnes last year, of which 1.9 million tonnes were sold in the domestic UAE market,” says Mohammed Al Afari, Vice-President of Marketing at Emirates Steel. “Cityscape Abu Dhabi is  growing every year in a market poised for exceptional growth this decade.

“We expect that the show will provide us with an excellent venue to showcase our expertise in steel and enhance our access to lucrative regional markets.”

This year’s event will see the inaugural Abu Dhabi Market Overview  conference, which will be held on the opening day.

“The half-day conference will put a spotlight on the latest project development updates from the emirate’s largest developers, while a dedicated panel discussion with industry experts will outline the way forward for the emirate’s property market,” says Molman.

Another highlight at the event is the VIP Networking Reception on April 23. “It will provide a platform for influential decision makers, international investors, developers, architects, designers and consultants to meet, exchange ideas and share development updates in a relaxed and informal setting,” says Molman.

Connect with clients

RW Armstrong, an oldtimer at Cityscape Abu Dhabi, takes advantage of the exhibition to meet new clients and learn new insights about the real estate market in the region and beyond.

“Our participation reflects our commitment to Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE market,” says Roger Kelso, General Manager — GCC Region. “We meet with developers, private clients or government entities that are looking for an experienced consultant to help them with their projects or any other construction challenges they may face. At this event, we meet people from Dubai, Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries as well.

“Every day we read positive news about projects being planned or revived not only in Dubai but also in Abu Dhabi. Moreover, the property market in Abu Dhabi is in a strong growth phase, with the economy officially forecast to grow 6.7 per cent this year after a 7.4 per cent growth last year.”

International investors

Experts also believe proactive measures by the Abu Dhabi government are helping create more opportunities in the property market. For instance, the move to require all government employees in Abu Dhabi to live in the emirate to be eligible for the housing allowance and the removal of the rent cap have made the property market very interesting for investors, he adds.

“Testament to this is that Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been named two of the world’s fast-growing premium property markets, according to a research by Knight Frank,” says Kelso.

Mohsin Ayub, Marketing Information Systems Specialist at Sherwoods Property, observed a high turnover at last year’s exhibition. However, this year he expects Cityscape Abu Dhabi to be a bit different because there is an overall increase in demand, not only in the UAE but in international property.

The real estate brokerage firm was a regular exhibitor from 2007-2011  and is returning to the fair this year.

“We are now in the postrecession period where things have started to  move forward on a positive note,” says Ayub. “With the increase in demand and prices, this event will surely be one of the catalysts in the industry.

“Cityscape Abu Dhabi will not only provide a platform to market developer and broker prospects, but it is also a onestop venue to study, analyse and compare the best possible options. From an international viewpoint, the fair provides an opportunity for international developers to showcase their developments and reach out to target markets easily, as the UAE today is a global hub and investors will come from all over the world.”

Sherwoods, an exclusive agent for a number of renowned developers in the UAE and abroad, will be highlighting new developments at Cityscape Abu Dhabi.

“This time around, we are planning something different so that visitors at our stand will remember it for longer,” says Ayub.

Smart solutions

Ahmad Kawadri, General Manager of Witty Technology, a new exhibitor at the event, says the construction and real estate industries in the UAE offer great opportunities for the smart home and automation systems and other technology solutions that his company offers. At this year’s event, Kawadri will be presenting new, affordable and eco-friendly systems and solutions that are easy to use and install for offices and homes.

“We are hoping to meet with construction and real estate giants to offer them more ideas about what can be done in their offerings to the community and provide them with affordable and easy-to-implement solutions for their projects and developments,” he says.

The fair is a good venue for industry professionals to communicate, network and work together to help develop the industry, adds Kawadri.

A new entrant at the event, 3 Dimension Quantity Surveying Services will be the first company to introduce the Green Pre-designed villas concept to the UAE market. The company claims its solution is efficient and relatively affordable.

3 Dimension also offers urban development services such as plexus of architecture, engineering design, building construction, ergonomics, fine arts, environmental technology, renewable energy science and applied economics.

Emirati company

Malak Ali, CEO of 3 Dimension, says the company will showcase her  unique design package of green villas at the event. “As an Emirati woman and an engineer, Cityscape Abu Dhabi is an opportunity for me and my team of experts to highlight our technical expertise and talent, and to show how far the Emirati woman has developed and progressed,” she says.

Ali says the UAE’s fastgrowing real estate sector needs to adopt new green building technology, environmentally friendly concepts, water and power saving methods, safety systems and other sustainable development solutions. Moreover, she notes that there are more women investors who are actively taking part in the UAE’s property market.

“The Abu Dhabi property market is already gaining interest and substantial investments. Abu Dhabi is going to be a huge development site for real estate,” she says.

Source: Hina Navin Special to Property Weekly,


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