Cityscape Connect : Abu Dhabi can lead recovery in property market

Cautious investors showing interest; job creation seen as central; transparency and regulation needed; high yields unlikely – say panelists at Cityscape Connect Business Breakfast

Abu Dhabi has the potential to lead the regional recovery in the property and real estate market in the medium to long term, according to leading industry experts. They were taking part today (Tuesday, 16 February 2010) in a high level panel which attracted over 120 real estate professionals at a Cityscape Connect Business Breakfast briefing ahead of Cityscape Abu Dhabi in April.

Though still cautious about entering the market, Heather Wipperman Amiji, Chief Executive Officer of the Investment Boutique, said some international institutional investors were starting to take an interest in Abu Dhabi. “At the moment, they are just looking around to see what could be available,” she added.

Looking to the longer term, Gurjit Singh, Chief Operating Officer of Sorouh Real Estate – Abu Dhabi’s second largest property developer – said the development of major infrastructure projects and job creation would lead growth in the Abu Dhabi real estate market. He cited planned heavy and light rail projects, the building of four nuclear power stations and continued growth in the convention and exhibition business as major job creators that would lead to spin off in the real estate sector. The nuclear power station programme alone would bring 25,000 jobs.

Tara Marlow, Head of Property and Hospitality at legal advocates Al Tamimi & Company, said transparency, stability and regulation needed to be brought to the Abu Dhabi market. “The fundamental point…to show is that Abu Dhabi has learned from the mistakes that other local markets made initially,” she added.

Masood Al Awar, Chief Executive Officer of Taskweek Real Estate Development and Marketing, said his company took a positive view on the Abu Dhabi market, even in the short term. He predicted more stability in pricing between Abu Dhabi and Dubai but warned that returns of 10%, 15% or even higher “will not happen anymore.”

Panel moderator Blair Hagkull, Managing Director Middle East and North Africa for Jones Lang LaSalle, said his company had noted a series of trends for 2010 underlying the shift in the property market. These included moves from asset creation to asset management; the concept of real homes for real people; a shift from a global to a local perspective in markets; the rebuilding of trust and confidence; the emphasis on long term returns at lower levels than the boom times.

“As a precursor to Cityscape Abu Dhabi taking place from 18-21 April 2010 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Cityscape Connect is part of a series of not for profit activities aimed at stimulating discussions on key issues affecting the real estate industry,” said Chris Speller, Cityscape Group Director for organisers IIR Middle East.

“Today’s breakfast meeting which included investor roundtables and a CEO lunch, will be followed by cocktail receptions and golf tournaments which will offer valuable platforms for networking, exchanging information and understanding the changing market dynamics of Abu Dhabi,” he added.

For more details about Cityscape Abu Dhabi and links to other Cityscape events, please visit

About Cityscape Abu Dhabi
Cityscape Abu Dhabi, the International Real Estate Investment and Development Event, provides a platform for regional and international real estate community to come together to network, create partnerships and discuss the future of real estate. It is part of a portfolio of Cityscape events in the Middle East, Asia and the Americas organised by IIR Middle East (, the largest trade and consumer event business in the region and part of the Informa Group plc (

– Nathalie Visele, Shamal Marketing Communications Dubai –

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