Time After Time

dubai-festival-cityNakheel is going ahead with another Palm Jumeirah project for 130 apartments. Costing US$ 20.4 million, the 12-storey tower will be built by Trojan General Contracting and should be ready within two years. The Dubai-based developer has also opened its first ever retail mall in Jumeirah Park – The Pavilion – a 10.6k sq mt shopping and entertainment complex. This is the forerunner of four more similar entities to be located in Al Furjan, Badrah, International City and Jumeirah Islands.

Dubai Sports City will be the home of yet another shopping mall, slated to be the same size as the massive Mall of the Emirates. The Arena Mall, covering 1.4 million sq ft of leasable area, will have a 140k sq ft anchor hypermarket as well as the usual attractions – food courts, children’s play areas, Cineplex etc.

Following in the steps of Mall of the Emirates, BurJuman, Ibn Batuta and Wafi, Dubai Festival City has become the latest mall to announce expansion plans. Its second phase will see an enlarged Creekside festival square.

A JV between Omniyat and Drake & Scull, that is developing a residential project on Palm Jumeirah, has enlisted Super Potato to help with the design. The Japanese firm is famous for its distinctive work seen at Zuma London, Grand Hyatt Singapore and Ritz Carlton Pudong.

A new entrant to the Dubai hospitality sector is Suba. Based in India, it has opened a 92-room 4-star hotel, located in Deira, and plans three more over the next two years.

It was interesting to note that latest Rera (Real Estates Regulatory Agency) data shows that rents in certain areas of the emirate are falling. For example, studio rents in Discovery Gardens and International City have dropped by 10.0% and 12.5% whilst in other locations, such as JLT and Silicon Oasis, they have remained flat.

As part of the US$ 817 million master plan for Rashid Hospital, its Trauma and Emergency Centre extension will see an additional 160 beds, at a cost of US$ 43.9 million, and be ready by June 2015. The main hospital will be completely rebuilt and have three 7-storey tower blocks, each housing 300 beds.

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s company, Meraas Holding, is reportedly in discussions to raise US$ 4 billion to finance a number of upcoming projects, including an island off JBR and a JV with Six Flags Entertainment Corporation for a theme park complex.

Tecom Investments, part of Dubai Holding, is apparently in the market for a US$ 1.1 billion loan facility. The company – which operates eleven business parks in the emirate – will use the funds for expansion purposes and “other strategic objectives”.

It seems that GEMS Education is in negotiations with a New York private equity firm, Blackstone  Group LP, about the latter’s first foray into the ME market, in liaison with Fajr Capital. There is talk that 20% of the Dubai education provider could be worth around US$ 350 million.

MAG F5 Holdings – a JV between two Dubai-based property investment companies, MAG and Fortune 5 Investments – has bought a 202-unit Abu Dhabi property. Formerly owned by Aldar, the Reem Island tower had been vacant for almost three years; no costs were available.

A report by Kuwait-based Global Investment House has indicated that UAE H1 corporate earnings rose by 31.2% to US$ 9.0 billion with Dubai showing an impressive 50.7% growth to US$ 3.3 billion, with the banking and real estate sectors leading the upward trend.

Having been temporarily delisted from Nasdaq Dubai last week, Depa returned to the bourse on Monday. The authorities had raised concerns about the composition of the six-member board, three of whom were Arabtec appointees and the fact that a new chairman had not been appointed. The company’s H1 results were disappointing with both revenue and profit down by 8.9% to US$ 251 million  and 24.0% to US$ 7.4 million respectively.

As widely expected, Emaar will release Emaar Malls Group as an IPO this month on the DFM. It is thought that about 15% of Emaar’s shares will be sold, equivalent to US$ 1.5 billion, which will be paid out as a dividend to existing shareholders, of which the Dubai government, via the Investment Corporation of Dubai, owns 30%. Based on this information, the new spin-off entity will be valued at a conservative US$ 9.5 billion.

Having risen only 0.4% the previous week, the Dubai bourse opened on Sunday at 4928 points – and closed the week 3.9% up at 5121.  So far this year, the market has jumped 52.0% from its 01 January opening of 3370. Bellwether stocks, Emaar and Arabtec closed on US$ 3.11 and US$ 1.30 respectively.

In the wake of last week’s disastrous results from Qantas, reporting a record US$ 2.4 billion loss, two other airlines have come in with poor figures. Malaysian Airlines will slash 6,000 jobs, cut back on its international routes and pump in US$ 1.9 billion to try and save the troubled carrier from bankruptcy. Meanwhile Virgin Australia has posted a US$ 332 million loss – more than triple the US$ 98 million of the previous year – citing weak demand, high taxes (including US$ 52 million in carbon tax) and strong competition from Qantas.

Following its relatively successful holding of the World Cup, Brazil now has to face the stark reality of a sluggish economy that is edging closer to a recession, with Q1 GDP contracting 0.2% followed by 0.6% in Q2. This pales into significance

considering that until recent times the world’s 7th largest economy was registering growth levels of over 7%. Just like Italy it is essential that the government gets to grips with overhauling its cumbersome red tape and archaic tax and labour laws.

Drastic measures are needed to save Italy’s ailing economy which this week recorded its first drop in consumer prices since 1959! Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, has to find ways to revive the economy – the worst performing in the eurozone – that contracted by 0.2% in Q2 and saw the unemployment rate jump to 12.6% (and 43% for those under 24). His two major hurdles are to stimulate some sort of growth and cut back on the infamous Azzurri bureaucracy.

The German economy appears to be grinding to a halt with Q2 construction investment and gross capital investment sliding 4.2% and 2.3% respectively. Domestic demand is at best sluggish and its PMI fell yet again to 51.4, whilst foreign trade has fallen, albeit by a rather modest 0.2%. Perhaps more worrying is the fact that Europe’s leading economy manages to spend just 17.0% of its GDP on annual investment – well down on the 21.0% level seen in most other industrialised nations.

Falling consumer confidence in the eurozone was manifested in the fact that July retail sales fell 0.4%, month on month, as growth continued to stagnate. August’s PMI dipped again to 50.7 (from July’s 51.8) as manufacturing growth was at a 13-month low. With inflation also dropping to 0.3%, there is the distinct possibility of a period of damaging deflation. To cap off all their troubles, there is the on-going conflict in the Ukraine where the situation deteriorates by the day. The market is still awaiting more positive action from Mario Draghi and if recent past history has anything to go by, the vacillating European Central Bank president will continue to dither as he has done Time After Time.

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