LIVE: Updates From Cityscape 2013 – Day One

Gulf Business brings you all the news from the region’s biggest property event.



15:40
For a moment, the mood turned sour as potential Emaar buyers fought to gain to access to the sales room. Could this be the first Cityscape to witness a physical altercation as investors jostle to buy hot properties?

15:20

Business is back! A long queue of investors have lined up right opposite the media centre to buy properties from Emaar. Gulf Business spoke to one of them, who said that he thinks the market is ripe for investment. He is also happy with the newly hiked transaction fee as he feels that it will dissuade flippers in the long term.

14:00

What a find! Gulf Business has tagged on to the coat-tails of one of Dubai’s biggest property honchos, the eminent Ali Rashid Lootah, chairman of Nakheel Properties. Does he think Dubai is heading for a burst property bubble? Of course he doesn’t!

“Prices are stabilised now and we’re not heading for a bust,” he tells us, in between the dizzying launch of three new projects: The Boardwalk and West Beach Development at The Palm and the new Deira Project.

“The new project will be in the same place as Palm Deira, but it will not replace that project,” Lootah confirms. You read it here first.

13:30

Gulf Business had the good fortune to bump into Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties. (OK, we’ll admit it, we followed the poor guy.)

The charismatic real estate boss is in good spirits as he confirms Dubai’s new real estate boom.

Alabbar tells us that he’s feeling confident about two things: that real estate demand will catch up with supply in the next few years; and that Dubai will win the Expo 2020.

“Yes, property prices are rising steeply, but that’s only because they are trying to catch up from the lull of the last five years. The markets are better regulated this time around and the majority of people have learned their lesson,” Alabbar says.

Well, let’s hope so!

11:30

Inside the exhibition centre, Sheikh Maktoum has cut the ribbon and is touring the hundreds of stands. Emaar is displaying a model for its Lagoons project after its announcement yesterday, a major project that was shelved after the 2008 crash.

Speaking to a representative from Dubai’s other real estate goliath, Nakheel, Gulf Business has learned the company plans to launch a major project in Deira, but our source did not give any further details. With the resurrection of past projects seemingly the flavour of the month, could this be The Palm Deira’s rebirth?

11:00
Cityscape may not have officially started yet – that happens at 11:30 when Sheikh Maktoum is expected to open the event – but Gulf Business has already grabbed a few words from Nicholas Maclean, head of CBRE Middle East, who downplayed whispers of Dubai heading towards another property bubble.

“The Dubai property market is not heading towards another bubble,” he said. “The fundamentals now are very strong and government is undertaking many regulations to avoid that scenario.”

Maclean also said rising rent prices in the emirate will continue in the immediate future before slowing down next year, and that he does not think the new property transaction fee, which doubled from two per cent to four per cent, will make too much of a difference.

9:30
Cityscape Global 2013 kicks off today and with it comes expectation of a once again booming property market in Dubai.

Mirroring Dubai’s expanding real estate sector, the event has grown by more than 50 per cent on last year as it showcases 223 international and regional exhibitors, two additional exhibition halls and a total exhibition space of 25,000 square metres.

The region’s real estate powerhouses have already been making headlines in advance of the Middle Easts’s biggest property gathering, with the Al Habtoor Group launching a $3 billion mega development named Al Habtoor City just yesterday.

Dubai Holding and Emaar Properties also used Monday to announce the re-launch of The Lagoons project – one of the pre-2008 schemes that was shelved when the property bubble burst.

And on that note, Government-owned Nakheel World also took the day before Cityscape to announce it will repay $24.3 million to developer Al Falak International.

So, all in all, it’s been a busy week for the Middle East’s property sector, and Cityscape is only just starting. Hold onto your hats.