Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2019 has been hailed a success in charting a clear path for the UAE capital’s real estate sector as it navigates current market challenges, with the three-day show witnessing sold-out project launches, proactive changes to property laws and in-depth industry-changing discussions.
The 13th edition of the UAE capital’s leading real estate exhibition, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, wrapped up at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) on Thursday 18th April, with major developers and key industry players better aligned on the future direction for the market that plays a crucial role in the capital’s economic diversification.
Amongst the highlights of investor-developer interaction on the main exhibition floor, major Abu Dhabi developer Aldar Properties PJSC reported AED 400 million in sales on its latest development, Lea, inside the first two days of the show, while the Government of Abu Dhabi used the exhibition to announce game-changing laws for foreign ownership in investment zones.
In addition, the Cityscape Abu Dhabi Conference and Cityscape Talk series, which ran alongside the exhibition, provided transparent, in-depth discussions and forecasts outlining where developers can make a difference in the market.
"With developers, real estate companies and the industry as whole in the midst of a challenging environment, it was extremely encouraging to see the level of commitment, understanding and determination from everybody at show – exhibitors on the floor, to key industry players and major disruptors in the Conference and Talks – to align on the right way forward for the Abu Dhabi real estate market," explained Chris Speller, Cityscape Group Director at Informa Exhibitions.
"The positive sentiment in the build-up to the show was backed up on the event, with developers such as Aldar reporting sold-out new projects onsite. That’s a clear indicator that while challenges remain, the market is adapting, and companies are listening to what investors and buyers want."
"Add in the new change to the foreign ownership law and the lively, interactive conference sessions and talks, and this year’s show has exceeded our expectations in uniting the industry and providing the right platform to look at how best take the market forward," added Speller.
The Cityscape chief’s sentiments were echoed by exhibitors who spotlighted the appeal and reach of Cityscape Abu Dhabi.
"Cityscape has provided us with access to clients, especially local investors, and this helps us understand the market, key trends and where we need to focus. We have been able to benchmark our projects and measure our competitive advantages," said Enass Abdelbaset,Director of Agents Department, Tiger.
Zonescorp, the largest operator of purpose-built industrial zones in the UAE, was equally upbeat after launching two new investment projects at Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2019, which are aimed at the private sector and will collectively span 2 million sqm in Abu Dhabi’s ICAD Zone 3 and Al Ain Investment Complex in Al Ain Economic Zone.
ZonesCorp is the ideal partner for local and international investors in the private sector, our new projects offer immense potential in terms of market access and growth opportunities for businesses and innovators looking to establish or expand their presence in Abu Dhabi’s rapidly growing non-oil sectors, including ventures led by Emiratis as well as SMEs," said Saeed Eisa Mohammed Al Khyeli, Director General of ZonesCorp "We will provide facilities, logistical support and a full range of world-class services based on our understanding of investor requirements throughout the establishment, construction and operational phases of these projects. In addition, we will ensure that participating businesses receive advice and other resources as part of our commitment to get these projects off to a robust start as ideal destinations for investors."
"ZonesCorp’s strategic planning aims to attract further local and international investments in line with Ghadan 21, the AED50 billion three-year development programme launched in 2018 by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. The initiative focuses on four main tenets – business and investment, society, knowledge and innovation, and lifestyle."
Throughout the two days of Cityscape Abu Dhabi Talks, session focused on a whole gamut of industry issues such as digitisation of real estate sales and marketing, redefining the customer experience in the real estate landscape, how to solve real estate disputes form all sides, and why investors should look at industrial real estate.
The final day of Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2019 also gave government officials and key developers a platform to delve deeper into the announcement, made on day two of the show, that allows foreign owners to take freehold of their properties, both residential and industrial, in the capital’s investment zones such as Alreeman, near Abu Dhabi Airport.
Addressing a media briefing on the law change, Talal Al Dhiyebi, chief executive officer, Aldar Properties, developer of Alreeman, said the new rule would likely increase investor return on investment (ROI), which is already higher than most international cities, by a further 8 per cent.
Falah Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Chairman of the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, Abu Dhabi, said the change in the law was a "quick response" by the government to meet demand from the private sector, adding that it would increase market confidence and result in more transparency and flexibility.
Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2019 welcomed 80 local and international real estate developers exhibiting dozens of new-to-market projects.