Bloom chief sees lux­ury re­cov­ery by end of year

Pri­vate de­vel­oper sees re­cov­ery by end of the year de­spite im­pact of low oil price

The National - News - Business - - Front Page - Lucy Barnard [email protected]­

The Abu Dhabi de­vel­oper Bloom Hold­ing does not ex­pect the cap­i­tal’s lux­ury housing sec­tor to start pick­ing up un­til the end of next year.

Sameh Muh­tadi, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Bloom, the pri­vate de­vel­oper cur­rently re­spon­si­ble for a clutch of am­bi­tious pro­jects in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, thinks that the im­pact from low oil prices and eco­nomic re­forms will con­tinue to push down rents and prices un­til the end of 2018.

“De­mand is still ev­i­dent in the mid­dle in­come sec­tor,” said Mr Muh­tadi, who has been at the helm of Bloom Hold­ing for more than two years. “Lux­ury of­fer­ings are ex­pected to pick up in late 2018.”

To that ef­fect Bloom has shifted its de­vel­op­ment fo­cus over the past year away from Abu Dhabi mega vil­las.

In­stead the de­vel­oper is work­ing on mid­dle in­come housing pro­jects such as Bloom Tow­ers and Bloom Heights in Dubai’s Jumeirah Vil­lage Cir­cle and staff ac­com­mo­da­tion blocks in Dubai.

The de­vel­oper is also work­ing on new mixed use pro­jects as far afield as Ro­ma­nia, Al­ge­ria and Min­nesota, US.

Bloom re­ports a fall of be­tween 3 per cent and 4 per cent in the vol­ume of new leases it has signed with ten­ants over the past year in the UAE. How­ever, Mr Muh­tadi says that its change of tack has paid off in terms of sales.

“We con­tinue with ro­bust sales across the board, our di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion in sec­tors and in re­gions cer­tainly helps,” he said. “In that we have po­si­tioned for mid-mar­ket we hon­estly have not seen a neg­a­tive mar­ket im­pact.”

Mr Muh­tadi’s 30-year ca­reer has spanned stints at com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Arabtec, Emaar Prop­er­ties Misr and Oras­com Con­track.

Other pro­jects cur­rently on the cards in­clude two high-end apart­ment de­vel­op­ments on Saadiyat Is­land, a ho­tel on Reem Is­land, both in Abu Dhabi, an apart­ment block in Dubai Ma­rina and plans to de­velop a vast swath of Abu Dhabi’s long-awaited Cap­i­tal District.

And, as one of the UAE’s best known own­ers and de­vel­op­ers of schools, Bloom is also press­ing ahead with an am­bi­tious de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor.

And, for those with strong stom­achs, Mr Muh­tadi says that Abu Dhabi’s cur­rent housing slump is cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­vestors.

“Now is the best time to in­vest,” he said. “Pay­ment terms are at­trac­tive, and the pipe­line of sup­ply con­tin­ues to be bal­anced with de­mand.”

Sil­via Raz­gova / The Na­tional

Christo­pher Pike / The Na­tional

Bloom Hold­ing’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Sameh Muh­tadi, says now is the time to in­vest: “Pay­ment terms are at­trac­tive.”

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