Cityscape Abu Dhabi to start amid im­prov­ing sen­ti­ment

The National - News - - OPINION - SARAH TOWNSEND

More than 100 real estate de­vel­op­ers are ex­pected to show­case projects at the Cityscape prop­erty ex­hi­bi­tion in Abu Dhabi this week, as re­cov­er­ing oil prices and a slower rate of price de­clines re­ju­ve­nates in­vestor sen­ti­ment.

“We are con­fi­dent that the at­ten­dance fig­ure will ex­ceed last year’s 17,549 par­tic­i­pants,” Carlo Schem­bri, ex­hi­bi­tion man­ager at the an­nual con­fer­ence that takes place in Abu Dhabi from to­day to Thurs­day and in Dubai later this year, told The Na­tional. “A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of new ex­hibitors tak­ing part this year come from Sharjah and Dubai, which is a promis­ing sign that Emi­rati-led com­pa­nies are play­ing a role in the show’s growth.”

Among the five big­gest projects on show at Cityscape are Sharjah de­vel­oper Arada’s $6.5 bil­lion Al­jada mega-com­mu­nity, and the 18-hectare Mak­ers’ District in Abu Dhabi, whose de­vel­oper Imkan will mar­ket Pixel, the scheme’s first mixed-use des­ti­na­tion on Reem Is­land.

Al­dar will mar­ket at Cityscape the first phase of its planned Dh10bn Al­ghadeer master plan that it un­veiled yes­ter­day. Other projects to be show­cased at Cityscape in­clude Bing­hatti De­vel­op­ers’ Dh400m Mil­len­nium Bing­hatti Res­i­dences along Dubai Wa­ter Canal in Busi­ness Bay, and Az­izi De­vel­op­ments’ Mey­dan Av­enue, a mixed-use scheme close to the 4.36-mil­lion-square-me­tre free­hold scheme, Mo­hammed Bin Rashid Al Mak­toum City and Mey­dan Race­course.

Last year’s Cityscape Abu Dhabi was a “fruit­ful” event for ex­hibitors, Mr Schem­bri said, al­though he de­clined to re­veal the es­ti­mated value of deals con­ducted dur­ing the show. Listed real estate de­vel­oper Al­dar Prop­er­ties sold out homes in the first two tow­ers of its The Bridges scheme at last year’s event, with a to­tal value of Dh400m, while Sharjah’s Ti­lal Prop­er­ties said it achieved around Dh8m of sales.

The 2017 post-show sur­vey showed that 63 per cent of vis­i­tors “ex­pressed in­ter­est in mak­ing a pur­chase from an ex­hibitor within the next 12 months”, he said.

The UAE prop­erty mar­ket has slowed in re­cent years, but in­creased in­ter­est from in­vestors in the first few months of 2018 sug­gests a more op­ti­mistic sen­ti­ment, even if this has yet to have an im­pact on prop­erty prices, an­a­lysts said, and this is likely to pro­vide a boost to ac­tiv­ity at this year’s Cityscape.

“Prices have been soft­en­ing for a while now, but it ap­pears they are start­ing to plateau,” said Faisal Dur­rani, head of re­search at real estate con­sul­tancy Clut­tons.

“At the top of the mar­ket – let’s take Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Is­land, which re­mains the most ex­pen­sive place to buy res­i­den­tial prop­erty in the emi­rate – res­i­den­tial sales prices have seen no [down­ward] move­ment for two quar­ters, in­di­cat­ing some price sta­bil­i­sa­tion. We are start­ing to see a re­turn of pur­chas­ing ac­tiv­ity as a re­sult.”

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