LIVE: Updates From Cityscape 2014

All the latest news from the region’s biggest property event taking place in Dubai.



DAY 3

5.40 pm

And with that, the three-day property extravaganza ends. As wraps are put over the fancy exhibits, organisers have sent a tweet reaffirming the popularity of the event.

“Cityscape Global will be expanding to between 35,000-40,000 sqm of exhibition space for 2015,” said Wouter Molman, director of Cityscape Group.

Sign of bigger launches to come? We will have to wait until next year to find out!

4.00 pm

The list of property launches at Cityscape Global 2014 just seems to be growing. Dubai Properties, a subsidiary of the state-owned Dubai Holding, has announced the launch of a new luxury waterfront hotel- its third project- in the emirate’s Culture Village district.

The project, which is due to open in early 2018, will be one of the first luxury hotels in Culture Village and will be operated by Anantara Resorts and Spa.

The hotel will be located in the heart of Culture Village directly facing the Dubai creek and will be close to developer’s new mixed-use project Dubai Wharf, and its luxury residential development Manazel Al Khor, a statement said.

2.15 pm

Dubai’s Damac Properties says this year’s Cityscape was its “most successful” one to date, and that its stand was packed with investors seeking details about its latest development, AKOYA Oxygen.

Speaking to Gulf Business, Ziad El Chaar, MD of Damac said that the new project was launched last month because of the increased demand the company found for community villas.

“In our first AKOYA development, the smallest unit was a four-bedroom villa, but we found that many people were looking for a smaller unit. Hence we launched three bedroom houses for Dhs1.6 million in our new project, which has proved very popular,” he explained.

AKOYA Oxygen is a 55 million sq ft master development located in Dubailand, which will feature a golf course designed by the Trump Organisation and include green open spaces, gardens and water features. The launch of the first two residential clusters at the development last month sold out on the day of launch.

1.30 pm

Middle Eastern investors are expected to spend $180 billion in commercial real estate markets outside of their own region over the next decade, according to a report just released by CBRE.

“The major increase in flows of Middle Eastern capital into global markets is emerging from the extraordinary mismatch between the lack of institutional real estate in domestic markets and the huge spending power concentrated in the region,” the report said.

That ties in with another survey conducted by IP Global and YouGov, which found that while 53 per cent of UAE residents invested in property, up to 41 per cent of them put their money overseas, compared with just 12 per cent locally. Here’s more details on that study.

11.15 am

While we have been focussing on Dubai developers at the event, news now coming in from neighbouring Sharjah, with developer Al Thuriah unveiling a new brand identity and showcasing two new residential projects, Sahara Tower 4 and Sahara Tower 5.

The new towers will be located in the Sahara Complex, the developer said.

We also have some fantastic photos of the huge displays at Cityscape. View them here.

10.00 am

Final day of Cityscape (exhausted journalists are counting down to the end of the day)!

An interesting study by website Dubizzle has found that rents and house prices in Dubai’s prime locations now match those in Manhattan. The average median rent for a one-bedroom apartment per month in a prime Dubai district ranges from Dhs7500 to Dhs13,000 while a similar property in Manhattan would demand a rent of Dhs7300 to Dhs11,900, it said. Read more of the story here.

DAY 2

6.15 pm

We come to the end of day two and while we had no new major announcements, the overall consensus is that it was busier and livelier than day one. Here’s what we heard today –

Dubai Has Too Many Property Brokers – RERA CEO

Dubai Urged To Build More Affordable Houses For Expats

Nakheel CEO Says Emaar Unit IPO Success To Encourage Listing Plans

5.40 pm

One of the Dubai-based companies that has recently diversified its offering within the real estate market is government-owned business parks developer TECOM Investments, which recently unveiled a new residential development called Villa Lantana in the emirate.

Showcased at Cityscape (alongside the company’s more popular Dubai Design District project), the development has been seeing strong interest from customers, according to Badr al Gargawi, CEO of development and planning, TECOM Investments.

Located next to Umm Sequim Road, Villa Lantana features 440 units, consisting of three, four and five bedroom detached and semi-attached family homes.

5.00 pm

The Gulf Business team was surprised to see a short queue forming at the registration desk at this time. As several developers told us, the sales offerings at Cityscape this year have been limited, with many companies preferring to only showcase and unveil major developments and gauge investor appetite.

Seems like the investors are interested!

4.00 pm

With Dubai’s property sector cooling down, experts have urged the government to build affordable homes for expatriates living in the emirate. While there is no official data on the exact volume of cheap housing available in the market, it is widely believed to be in short supply.

However, the government can help by incentivising developers to build more affordable homes, say experts.

Read more here.

3.00 pm

A big VIP delegation including Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, PM and VP of UAE and Dubai’s ruler and Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s crown prince have been touring the halls at Cityscape. One of the stands they stopped at was the Falcon City of Wonders booth, which includes massive displays of the development.

HH Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum visits Falcon City of Wonders in City scape

Spread across 41 million sq ft, the project will feature structures based on famous sites such as the Pyramids, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

1.45 pm

Renters, landlords, buyers and brokers in Dubai might want to pay attention now. Marwan Bin Ghalita, CEO at Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), said today at Cityscape 2014 that the agency is trying to be more transparent and publish more data so that false information is not circulated in the market.

Four new regulations are also being introduced in Dubai to regulate brokers. One of them, which will be implemented by mid-2015, will see Emirates IDs replace broker ID cards. More on this later.

11.15 am

Cityscape organisers have just released figures stating that opening day visitor numbers rose 27 per cent year-on-year on Sunday, with investors coming in from the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey and the UK.

The event this year has 30 developers and architects covering 2,100sqm of exhibition space, up 22 per cent on 2013. Wouter Molman, director of Cityscape Group said: “All indications ahead of the show were pointing towards an incredibly busy, profitable opening day and the turnout from international investors has been impressive.”

10.15 am

Day two has started and the buzz around the newsroom is that the crowds are much thinner this year as compared to Cityscape 2013. The registration counters had been teaming with people last year, even on day two, and we had even reported about a scuffle breaking out at the room adjacent to the media centre, where Emaar was selling off some of its properties.

Despite the large displays at the event this year, signs do seem to indicate a slight cooling down of the Dubai real estate market. According to Cluttons, the UAE Central Bank’s ruling on capping mortgages in December 2013 has had the most significant impact on the rate of price acceleration.

DAY 1

5.50 pm

Day one of Cityscape is almost up and our last interview for the day was with Anand Lakhiani, director at Indigo Properties. The developer has just launched a new villa community project, called Zen, which will be located in Dubai Golf City. The USP of the project will be the shaded walkways and the “mysterious” pockets that it will house, he says.

Similar to the sentiment expressed by almost everybody we spoke to today, he asserted that Dubai’s property market has matured, and that growth will be slow and steady from this point on.

To sum up day one, Cityscape saw some new project launches and featured big displays, with developers and market experts stressing that Dubai’s property market is back with a bang, and here to stay.

4.40 pm

Dubai’s property market is adequately regulated, says Ziad El Chaar from Damac. According to him, the so-called ‘flippers’ in the market have reduced and most investors are here for the long-term.

He also confirmed that property prices have stabilised, but stressed that rates would continue to grow for “innovative” developments in the prime areas of Dubai.

That’s exactly what Nakheel’s Lootah said this morning – “It’s all about location, location, location.”

3.15 pm

The overall consensus in Cityscape so far seems to be that Dubai’s property market is back, but this time, is more mature, cautious and balanced.

Our next meeting for the day is scheduled with the MD of a company that has symbolised the Dubai property market’s return to form – you probably guessed it right – we are going to chat with Ziad El Chaar, managing director of Damac Properties, to discuss the company’s latest projects and where the market is headed.

2.45 pm

Dubai’s property market is stable and fears of a bubble are completely unfounded – that’s the view from the Cluttons camp. Speaking to Gulf Business, Steve Morgan, CEO Middle East and Faisal Durrani, International Research and Business Development manager confirmed that the measures taken by the Dubai government, such as hiking the transaction fee and capping mortgages have taken effect.

Rents too should be stablising, they say, although several residents have already been priced out of some parts of Dubai.

2.30 pm

More details coming in about the new Nakheel projects in Dubai. Read here.

1.45 pm

We are soon heading to meet the Cluttons team to hear their thoughts on where Dubai’s property market is headed.

In the meantime, apart from Nakheel, we have also had new launches from a couple of big developers today-

* Meraas Holding revealed ‘La Mer’, a mixed-use beachfront development in Jumeirah, close to the Pearl Jumeirah Island. Spread across 9.5 million square feet of existing and reclaimed land, it will comprise four zones – the beach, a leisure and entertainment hub, North Island, and South Island. Construction is set to commence in Q4 2014.

* Damac Properties announced yet another new luxury hotel in collaboration with Paramount Hotels & Resorts. Located on a plot off Sheikh Zayed road in the Downtown area, the ‘Paramount Hotel Dubai, Downtown’ will include 1,250 rooms and suites. Construction is already underway with the hotel set to open its doors in 2018, Damac said.

1.30 pm

Just back from the Dubai Holding press conference and unfortunately, the only new detail we could glean about the Mall of The World project is that the company is focussing on phase one, which will be completed three years after work starts. Khalfan Belhoul, VP, Strategy at Dubai Holding remained tightlipped about what the first phase will include; how much it will cost; and when work will actually begin.

He did confirm that the entire project will be completed in 10 years, and that it will cost a total of Dhs25 billion. The company is in discussions with consultants and specialists at the moment, and Belhoul promised more details in Q1 2015.

1.10 pm

News coming in about the Dubai World restructuring deal. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, chairman of Dubai’s Supreme Fiscal Committee, told reporters today at Cityscape 2014 that  Dubai World is close to reaching a deal with its creditors. More here.

 12.45 pm

Dubai Holding just gave out details about its ambitious Mall of the World project. Phase 1 of the project will be ready in three years, while the whole project will be ready in 10 years. That is ambitious! If you have been living under a rock or lost in the sheer number of mall projects in the UAE, here is more on the Mall of the World project.

12.30 pm

Dubai-based property developer Nakheel has just announced the launch of The Palm Gateway, a Dhs3 billion, three-tower complex in Palm Jumeirah and a second Dhs1.2 billion residential project, called Jumeirah Heights Fronds, in the Jumeirah Islands. Its  Chairman Ali Rashid Lootah declared his confidence in Dubai’s real estate market, saying that flipping had reduced in the market. Now that’s a second vote of confidence all day today in what some were calling an unstable and overheating market.

12.00 pm

And right on time for Cityscape 2014 comes a new report, which suggests that this is not 2009 all over again, yet. According to real estate investment and advisory firm JLL, Dubai’s rapidly growing real estate market has finally put some brakes on, with the market levelling off in the third quarter of 2014. Read more here.

11.05 am

Cityscape 2014 is open! Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai World, officially inaugurates the event.

11.00 am

Looks like the official inauguration is set to take place very soon and the crowd is building up. In the meantime, Gulf Business went scouting around the exhibition, looking for the biggest and boldest displays.

Falcon City of Wonders has a massive model (need to check if it’s the same as last year’s) and officials say they have launched stage one and two. They do plan to soon launch stage three, but that’s only if they sell off stage one, says a source.

Meanwhile Dubai’s Nakheel has just retail projects on display – in line with their strategy of shifting focus to retail and hospitality.

We have also received a new property report from CBRE, which states that average residential rents actually dipped marginally by one per cent during the third quarter of this year. We will soon be speaking to a senior executive from the company and will bring you further details.

10:20 am

The three-day property exhibition, Cityscape Global, kicks off today in Dubai, and the event this year is expected to be a showcase of mega projects and dozens of new launches.

The event has grown by 25 per cent, with organisers stating that it is the largest event since its peak in 2008. Over 35,000 visitors, including property investors, developers and investment promotion authorities are slated to attend.

Government-owned investment firm Dubai Holding is having a first time presence along with its subsidiaries Dubai Properties Group and TECOM Investments. On display will be the massive Mall of the World project and Dubai Design District, among others.

Several other developers such as Damac Properties and Omniyat have also announced big plans for the event, so stay tuned as we bring you all the big news from Dubai’s biggest property extravaganza.