Livin’ On The Edge

Palm-Jumeirah-BoardwalkNakheel has announced a tender for the design and construction of a 6 mt wide, 11 km long boardwalk on the outer side of the Palm Jumeirah crescent. It will also include two 100 mt long piers which will encompass dining and leisure facilities.

The developer has also appointed AE7 Associates to design and supervise the master planning of its 15.3 sq km development on Deira Island in a US$ 7.6 million contract. Like Palm Jumeirah, there will be a boardwalk included on the 4.5 million sq mt south island, as well as a shopping mall, ampitheatre and marina.

The Kuwaiti developer, Al Mazaya Holdings, is set to launch the second phase of its Q-Point residential development located in Dubailand. Q-1 is now almost 80% complete with hand-over slated within the next twelve months.

The Kuwait subsidiary of Dubai-based Drake & Scull has won two contracts totalling US$ 34.9 million for engineering work in that country.

Emaar Properties launched the latest phase of its Mir Oasis development in Arabian Ranches. Sales of the 480 townhouses will take place this Saturday at three locations – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Karachi – and  strong investor demand is expected as Dubai’s property continues to boom.

At next week’s AGM, it is expected that Emaar will announce a cash dividend of US$ 0.041 per share together with a 10% bonus share issue. This follows a highly successful 2013 when the property developer announced profits of US$ 700 million on revenue of US$ 2.81 billion.

With the 80-day refurbishment of the runways at Dubai International due to start on 01 May, and the subsequent curtailing of some flights, Emirates has announced that it could lose up to US$ 272 million in revenue as it reduces flights to over forty destinations.

A useful indicator of the flourishing MICE sector is the increased activity recorded by Dubai World Trade Centre. In 2013, the number of both trade delegates – over 2.2 million – and the 373 exhibitions showed double digit growth. Nearly 900k of trade visitors came from overseas which has significantly helped growth in the hospitality sector.

April and May are expected to be bumper months for Dubai hotels. Still reeling from the influx of 19.5k Chinese visitors from one company Nu Skin, the industry is gearing up for Easter, the IPL and ATM – all expected to fill the current inventory of 85k rooms. It is estimated that both months will see over 1 million hotel visitors.

Inflation figures for both the UAE and Dubai continue to edge northwards which many expect to reach 3% by the end of the year, compared to 1.1% last year. Even then, the figures will be on the low side as home rents and education fees escalate at a much higher level.

Latest figures from Dubai Exports show that the fragrance, beauty and fashion-related industry is now worth in excess of US$ 56.1 billion – up over 8.0% on the year. By far the largest contributor was fashion which accounted for US$ 52.6 billion in 2013. Both the fragrance and cosmetics sectors showed double digit growth to US$ 1.50 billion and US$ 2.00 billion respectively. This week two new industry bodies – Fashion Group Arabia and Cosmetics Foundation Arabia – have been established.

The DFM had a relatively quiet week up only 0.04% from its Sunday opening of 4744 points to close on Thursday at 4762. Bellwether stocks, Emaar and Arabtec, were trading at US$ 2.79 and US$ 1.90 respectively. No wonder the market is currently the best performing bourse in the world already 41.31% up this year from its 01 January opening of 3370 points. More good news is imminent as the DFM is set to be reclassified to emerging market status in May which will result in extra liquidity entering the local market.

Certain European countries are facing difficulties in meeting their financial obligations. Portugal received a US$ 1.17 billion IMF / EU /ECB bailout payment this week which brings the total of the rescue package to US$ 25.7 billion over the past three years. The programme should have terminated in May but has been extended.

Meanwhile Italy has requested a further year to reach budget targets set as a condition for earlier funds. The country continues to struggle as its 2014 fiscal deficit is expected to reach 2.6% of GDP and its public debt is a massive US$ 2.9 trillion or the equivalent of 134.9% of GDP. The past three prime ministers, Berlusconi, Monti and Renzi promised balanced budgets by 2013, 2015 and 2016 respectively; 2020 is a more realistic assumption.

Greece’s unemployment rate continues at around the 28% level whilst its debt stands at 175% of GDP. There cannot be any sort of recovery there until steady economic growth returns to the country.

There is no doubt that things will have to get better not only for these three countries but most others in the eurozone. For too long now, they have been Livin’ On The Edge.

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