Start Me Up

obama-laughingThis week saw the inevitable raft of new projects being announced that always coincides with Cityscape. Probably the most surprising property news of the week was Nakheel’s plan to restart work on the much delayed Palm Deira (now to be known as Deira Island). The change in name comes with a modification to the size of the development, with none of the original fronds being utilised. Despite this reduction, the island will still have 1,400 retail and food outlets, a 30k capacity ampitheatre and a 250-room hotel. There is every possibility that outside companies will be asked to tender for other areas in the development.

Another massive delayed project was brought back to life with news that Emaar Properties and Dubai Holding will restart work on the 6 million sq mt The Lagoons, located at the end of The Creek. This will include a central business district with the Dubai Twin Towers, schools, medical facilities and a hotel, and when completed will be three times the size of Downtown Dubai.

In 2008, there were plans to build an opera house on a Dubai Creek island but they were shelved because of the GFC. Now it seems that Dubai will finally have the most modern theatre in the world which can be converted to other uses such as for weddings, exhibitions etc. The 60k sq mt facility, shaped like a traditional dhow, will be completed by 2015.

Dubai Properties Group will start work with further developments of Culture Village, located on the Creek. This will include a 3.8km promenade with a retail souk, art centre and a residential area, Manazel Al Khour. Two of the major developments in this heritage location, the 6-start Palazzo Versace Hotel and D1 Residential Tower, will be completed next year.

DPG will also add new projects to its ‘The Walk’ in JBR, including yet another beachfront hotel. The area is home to 40k residents and welcomed over 13 million visitors in the past year.

Deyaar, now controlled by Dubai Islamic Bank, has confirmed that it will construct two tower blocks in Business Bay. The US$ 38 million received from a recent deal, together with a mix of bank loans and advance sales, will help finance these projects.

Meydan also used the property show to announce some major developments. As part of the new US$ 545 million, 3 km Dubai Canal Project, the organiser of the world’s richest horse race has formed a JV with Meraas to develop a 40 million sq ft site for up to US$ 9.5 billion worth of residential development, on either side of the canal. The JV has also commenced sales on its 520 mt high Entisar Tower, which will have 444 apartments.

Meydan Heights – with its 528 townhouses – will start receiving its first tenants, mostly Emirates pilots and staff, by the end of the year. It was no surprise that two other Meydan developments have already sold out. These are the 70 blocks of land for its upmarket Racecourse Villas and 120 Meydan Business Park plots.

Dubai Investments Real Estate Company has started work on three residential and commercial properties in Jumeirah, Mirdiff and Meydan. This comes after the success of its RITAJ project in Dubai Investments Park that comprised some 2k apartments, most of which have already been sold or leased.

Troubled developer, Union Properties, have also got in on the act, announcing six new projects. These include expansions of its Green Community and Motor City retail area – The Ribbon. It will also replace its proposed F1-branded theme park with a mixed-use development which will have a replica of the Champs-Elysees.

The DIFC zone is planning a US$ 4.1 billion expansion plan in a bid to attract more international companies. Currently only 60% of the total 25 million sq ft available is being utilised and suiters are being sought to develop the remaining area which is expected to be 65% offices, 20% residential and 15% retail.

On Tuesday, flydubai launched its first business class flight with FZ729 taking off for Kiev in the Ukraine. The three-year old airline already covers 65 destinations in 34 countries with more growth on the horizon.

The Dubai Financial Market General Index finally took a breather after a tumultuous six weeks of trading closing on Thursday on 2831 points – marginally up on its 2823 Sunday opening. The market is still 82.50% YTD and 2.5% up so far in October. The bourse will be closed next week for the Eid al Adha celebrations and will reopen on 20 October.

Meanwhile Dubai’s other stock market, Nasdaq Dubai, listed its first new stock in four years. However, the Bank of London and The Middle East saw no activity in its first day of trading on Tuesday. The only other stocks listed on this exchange are DP World and Depa Ltd.

A recent study by the Emirates Identity Authority (Eida) estimates that only 20% of the 150k new jobs generated in the country every year is being taken by Emiratis. 58.7%, or 88k, are Dubai-based.

It is reported that the country’s consolidated financial account (CFA) will hit a new high this year because of the high oil prices. The country has recovered well from its US$ 8.0 billion 2010 deficit. It is estimated that in 2008, the country needed oil at US$ 23.4 to break even which rose to US$ 92.4 in 2011 and has fallen back to US$ 80.0 last year.

Not one of the best forecasters, the IMF has once again had to change their growth estimate for the GCC. Only four months ago, they were predicting a 3.78% 2014 expansion but now have amended that to 4.4%.This will be 18.9% up on the expected 2013 growth of 3.7%. The rest of the world does not fare so well with the world body lowering their July growth forecasts by 0.3% to 2.9% this year and by 0.2% to 3.6% in 2014.

The 3 ‘I’s are in the news. India has seen its growth pegged back from 5.6% to 3.8% over the past three months and has been dogged by persistent high inflation rates and a significant downturn. Italy has been beset by its usual problems of red tape, weak government, fragile economy and high debt which stands at 133% of GDP. Ireland expects to exit the bailout programme by the end of the year having had to go to the EU and IMF for a US$ 115 billion loan in 2010.

Despite apparent conciliatory moves by Republican John Boehner, it seems that the US president is not in a mood to negotiate. By Thursday, the federal government had been virtually shut down for ten days with no apparent end in sight. Consequently, the world’s markets are becoming spooked and 1-month US government debt hit a five-year high. This impasse threatens to stop the raising of the country’s US$ 16.7 trillion debt ceiling by 17 October and could push the rest of the world into a major recession. The simple message to Obama is – Start Me Up!

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