The bounce back in local real estate can be gleaned from the fact that Dubai Land Department recorded a 30% surge in H1 business transactions, reaching US$ 29.4 billion. There was an even larger amount in the number of properties involved – up 60.8% to 30,469 units. As indicated in previous blogs, almost 75% of all transactions were for cash but only accounting for 48.9% or US$ 14.4 billion in total value.
Dubai Properties Group has announced plans to enhance The Walk at JBR with the addition of a Beach Club. This busy tourist thoroughfare had over ten million visitors last year and is slated to see increased numbers in 2013. One downside – especially for JBR residents – is accessibility, with on-going infrastructure work, including the Al Sufouh tram development, and high traffic volume.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, is confident that the emirate’s airport will serve 75 million passengers by 2015 – then making it the busiest and biggest international airport in the world. Having already seen 21.9 million passengers in the first four months of 2013, it seems likely that it will reach a record 66 million by year end. A US$ 7.8 billion capital expansion plan will see its capacity increase to 100 million by the end of the decade.
The next part of the expansion will be Concourse D, close to Terminal 1, which covers 65k sq mt and will be able to deal with 18 million passengers a year. It will service 100 international airlines and will be linked to Terminal 1 by an elevated rail system. To maximise revenue potential, Dubai Airports is inviting bids from interested parties who wish to open retail and food outlets.
However, Terminal 3 is no longer the world’s biggest building having just lost that accolade to the New Century Global Centre in Chengdu. The Chinese water park – at 1.7 million sq mt – has a floor space 0.2 million sq mt larger than T3.
Meanwhile Emirates SkyCargo – with its Boeing fleet of eight 777Fs and two 747-400ERFs – has announced that it will move its operations from Dubai International to the new Al Maktoum International as from May 2014. The new terminal will have initial annual capacity of some 700k tonnes. As cargo from its passenger operated flights will remain as is, there will be dedicated road feeder services between the two facilities. Oh for a rail service to take some of the trucks off the roads!
Further good news for the emirate was the signing of an agreement between Dubai Industrial City and Etihad Rail to build a terminal as part of the second phase of its development that will connect all UAE’s major cities and logistic hubs. This will be a huge boost for DIC that would see it linked with all the country’s major ports – Khalifa, Jebel Ali, Fujairah and Mussafah – and other major regional centres.
Reports indicate that DP World is in JV negotiations with the Maldivian government to establish an international port in Male. In bipartisan talks with HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the island’s president, Mohamed Waheed Hassan, also discussed assistance with setting up a financial hub and developing both e-government services and the health sector.
It is estimated that Nakheel has received at least US$ 8 million government support since its near 2008 implosion following the GFC. It has a reported current development pipeline of over US$ 2.2 billion and has managed to deliver 65% of the 9,300 units that were on its books at the time of its August 2011 restructuring. With the turnaround in the realty sector and increased building activity, the company’s US$ 1.16 billion sukuk has become one of the best performing Islamic debt paper, yielding nearly 10%.
Yet another international hotel chain sees the benefits of setting up operations in Dubai. This time, Thai-based Minor International expects its Anantara Palm Jumeirah to be completed by year end.
Local developer, Abdulsalam Al Rafi Group, has secured a US$ 245 million club loan to finance the Burj Al Salam Towers being built on Sheikh Zayed Road. One of the three towers will be a Starwood hotel and the other two will be commercial and residential. The deal was put together by Dubai’s largest bank, Emirates NBD, in conjunction with First Gulf Bank.
With 3,000 camels, producing 1.8 million litres of milk a year, and a 100% growth in revenue, Dubai-based Emirates Industry for Camel Milk & Products cannot keep up with demand. Products include milk, cheese, whey powder and chocolate and the company has just begun exports into Europe.
A case in the Dubai Criminal Court shows how naïve some people are. An American woman, living in Ghana, has been allegedly duped out of US$ 1.1 million by a scam involving two Nigerians and a Jordanian. The three have been accused of forging the signatures of the seven UAE rulers, on a fake US$ 80 million gold loan contract, in a “deal” with the federal government.
The Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange witnessed H1 contract volumes more than double to 7.72 million totalling US$ 268.85 billion, up 112% on last year. Currency contracts accounted for the major part of the business with the Indian rupee again dominating the market with 90.2% (or US$ 242.5 billion) of total trades. This week again saw that currency hovering at near historic lows of 60 to US$1.
The Dubai Financial Market General Index had another bouyant week closing on Thursday at 2496 points – up 4.3% on its Sunday opening of 2392. Bellwether stocks, Emaar Properties and Arabtec, continue heading northwards ending on US$ 1.59 and US$ o.61 respectively. So far this year the Index has risen by 60.34% and over the past 52 weeks an impressive 69.40%.
As Australia’s economy continues at a slower growth pace, it seems that their weaker dollar – which has fallen some 13% in the past two months – may help both the trade and tourism sectors, as its mining boom starts to peter out. It does seem likely that there will be a further rate cut to maybe 2.5% at the next RBA meeting – hopefully further help for an under-performing economy.
Despite H1 retail sales up by 13.4%, fixed asset sales by 20.1% and industrial production by 8.9%, there has been a slowdown in the Chinese economy with Q2 growth down to 7.5%, compared to 7.7% in Q1. This is the sixth straight quarter that growth levels have been below 8% and there are forecasts that next year this may drop to below 7%. However, foreign direct investment into the country rose by 4.9% to US$ 62 billion in H1.
Yet another financial scandal has emanated from China – this time involving GlaxoSmithKline. The UK-based drugs manufacturer has been accused of transferring US$ 486 million in bribes to various sections of the medical profession and government officials.
Scarcely a week goes by without a further bank scandal. In the US, Barclays and four staff members have been fined US$ 488 million for manipulating energy markets, mainly in California, Arizona, Oregon and Washington. The bank is appealing the verdict.
A further sign of a slowdown in the US economy came with June retail sales figures which came in at lower than expected. Analysts, looking at an 0.8% jump, were disappointed to see a figure half that amount. This may mean that Ben Bernanke will not be so quick to phase out his monetary stimulus package.
Fitch Ratings lowered France’s credit rating to AA and expects to see the country’s government debt at 96% of GDP. Despite this, its budget to GDP – at 4% – is still well above the European limit set at 3%. A further problem that needs urgent attention is the country’s state pension fund which will have a deficit of US$ 27 billion by 2020, if no action is taken.
Both the Spanish and French governments continue to believe in fairy tales. This week, the Spanish Economy Minister, Luis de Guindos, has declared that the Spanish recession is over. Somebody should remind him that in Q1, the economy shrank for the sixth straight quarter by 0.5% and that unemployment levels of 27% show little sign of early improvement. Likewise, French President, Francois Hollande has again asserted that recovery has started despite continued recession, high unemployment and proposed cuts of US$ 18.2 billion in state expenditure, in a vain attempt to balance his ballooning budget.
Also in the news this week are Dr Montaser Al Mansouri and Sepp Blatter. The former is probably this country’s most celebrated illusionist who is hoping to make the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, disappear later in the year. The other is an illusionist who is famous for moving the goalposts – this time, he has finally decided, following further medical information, that it will be too hot to have the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup played in summer!
To Messrs de Guindos, Hollande, Al Mansouri and Blatter – I Believe in Miracles!