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Business leaders in the UAE are confident the UAE has the right infrastructure to become one of the world's leading business destinations. This was the consensus during last week's The Global Real Estate Debate at the Capital Club, which was organised by real estate adviser Cluttons and UK based property magazine Estates Gazette.
A panel of experts joined an audience of 150 people in discussing the UAE's core business capabilities. The panel comprised Steve Morgan, CEO of Cluttons Middle East; Anita Mehra Vice-President of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Dubai Airports; Badr Al Gargawi, CEO of Development and Planning at Tecom; Hazel Wong, Executive Director of WSW Architects, Dr Khaled Ahmed, Senior Vice-President of Development and Strategy at Economic Zones World, and Damian Wild, editor of Estates Gazette.
Real estate interest
The panellists were unanimous in saying the UAE has already managed to leverage its strategic location as a hub between continents to attract business and tourism opportunities in the past four decades.
''We have noticed a lot of investor interest in the real estate industry. The major projects under way include the Midfield Terminal in Abu Dhabi, Al Maktoum International Airport [AMIA] in Dubai World Central and Etihad Rail, which will transform connectivity and global access to the UAE,'' said Morgan.
''These projects will directly support the occupation of the expanding office and retail markets, and the huge growth in the industrial and distribution sectors. With a significant number of jobs being created as part of this growth, the residential sector will continue to prosper over the longer term.''
Highlighting the growth of the aviation sector, which is a key pillar of the UAE economy, Mehra said, ''This year 70 million passengers will pass through Dubai airports. While 60-70 per cent of the total passengers currently use the airport as a hub to travel to other destinations, the rest uses it as a destination. We are expecting the number of passengers passing through Dubai Airports to increase significantly in the next few years; 120 million by 2020 and 200 million by 2030.
''With a number of low cost carriers coming to AMIA, the aviation sector in the UAE is set to grow further.''
Dr Ahmed added: ''The UAE's commercial strategy, including infrastructure and commerce, is designed to support much more than just its own emirates, it has been strategically developed to cater for Africa, South Asia and the wider Middle East. Most of the Fortune 500 companies now have offices in the UAE, a sign that we truly are a global business hub.''
The panel also discussed the challenges going forward. Al Gargawi said: ''Despite the UAE's rapid economic growth, the biggest challenge for the country is to attract top talent and allow them to grow in an environment that is creative and sustainable. We have, however, started to work on this with the establishment of Dubai Design District.''
Wong added, ''The UAE has the political and financial stability to attract and retain human capital. If the UAE can maintain its infrastructure and the quality of life, people will continue to come here.''
Get to know the growth of property values in Dubai
Source: Chiranti Sengupta, Features Writer, Property Weekly