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Expo highlights the best projects on offer

By Nadim Kawach


Property developers flexed their muscle at a major real estate show in Abu Dhabi yesterday – and some said they had finalised deals worth hundreds of millions of dirhams on the very first day of the event.

Large queues of investors and clients from the UAE and abroad packed the stands at the Abu Dhabi Investment and Property Exhibition to listen to presentations about projects and negotiate deals.

Aldar, Hydra, Pearl Properties and Surouh dominated the show that attracted nearly 85 real estate companies, mostly from the UAE, to the International Exhibition Centre.

“Most of the villas in our Shahama project were sold today,” said Zakaria Tarhouni, business development manager at Hydra.

The show, fourth in the series, coincides with a boom in the real estate sector in the UAE and other Gulf states as property developers set out to tap the growth in demand, which is a result of an economic upswing in the region.

In the UAE alone, officials believe a staggering Dh734 billion will be pumped into real estate, construction and infrastructure projects in the next five years, the majority of which will be carried out by the private sector.

“The government’s share of these projects does not exceed 40 per cent as the rest would be covered by the private sector,” said Falah Al Ahbabi, Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Construction Planning Council.

Despite such mega ventures, experts believe demand still outstripped supply and this has combined with a surge in the costs of building materials to sharply boost property prices and rents, and aggravate the inflation problem.

Central Bank figures showed the real estate sector gained by an average 12 per cent a year over the past five years but economists said the sharp rise in prices has been one of the main factors for this growth.

“The problem is that most of these property projects are luxury projects targeting high-income people,” said Suleiman Al Fahim, chairman of Hydra. “What we need is the construction of low-cost houses to restore balance to the market.”

Hydra and other key exhibitors at the four-day show have been assigned massive stands to accommodate an army of their marketing employees, the expected surge in would-be buyers and portraits of their projects.

Aldar, one of the largest real estate developers in the Middle East, and some other participants have glass rooms at their stands to finalise deals with their clients in private.

One of the most exciting projects on display is Aldar’s Yas Island, which is located opposite to Al Raha Beach at the northern entrance to Abu Dhabi city.

“The Yas Island project is under construction and it is one of the largest real estate ventures in the UAE. The island is nearly a third of the area of Abu Dhabi city as it spreads over 2,500 hectares,” said Karim Al Guanaini, hospitality marketing manager at Aldar.

Aldar is also spreading outside the UAE with new investments in Malaysia and Kazakhstan.