23 October 2007
Shaikh Mohamed pays Surprise Visit to CityScape, Dubai
His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, paid a surprise visit to Cityscape, the world's largest real estate exhibition which concluded here yesterday.
A B2B (business-to-business) real estate show dedicated to those who can afford to invest over $5 million in the property industry, Cityscape attracted major companies and governments from various countries worldwide.
Shaikh Mohammed toured the 70,000 square metre exhibition area at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, meeting with some of the show's 1,000 regional and international exhibitors.
The event organiser IIR Middle East announced in a Press statement record attendance of 30,000 visitors during the first two days, surpassing the number of people who came last year.
Group director of Cityscape for organiser Rohan Marwaha said that Cityscape Dubai would not have attracted the quality and scale of its exhibitors had it not been for the support of Shaikh Mohammed.
"The progress of Cityscape Dubai underscores the growth of Middle Eastern companies...and much of this is due to the vision and encouragement of Shaikh Mohammed," he said.
The statement said that other prominent visitors to the event included star architect Zaha Hadid, Hollywood actor Patrick Swayze and US billionaire realtor Thomas Barrack Jr.
Singapore's Urban Development Authority, for instance, participated in the event aiming to get a slice of the $13 billion worth of projects that Gulf investors poured into the real estate industry around the world in 2006
"Our objective is to highlight Singapore as a viable, valuable investment option," said Choy Chan Pong, the authority's director. "We are already seeing an upsurge in the number of interested parties and several Middle East investors are targeting opportunities in Singapore."
Istithmar Group, a subsidiary of the Dubai World consortium, is the latest Arab company putting investments in Singapore. It recently tendered $1.13 billion worth of projects on the city-state's Beach Road.
Called South Beach, the $1.8 billion development features a high-quality mix of prime office space, two luxury hotels and retail and residential units.
A report commissioned by Cityscape Market Intelligence Service and launched at the three-day property show, has ranked India, the Philippines, Turkey, Morocco and Egypt as top emerging markets for investment opportunities in the real estate sector.
It identified Saudi Arabia as having the strongest investment potential in among the Gulf countries, while Syria has a "notable opportunity" for investors in tourism development.
What the indices show, according to the report by Oxford Business Group (OBG), is that there are other investment-friendly markets which haven't been attracting global attention.
It said the position of the Philippines at the top of the residential rankings will surprise many people, but it added that the country has posted strong economic growth and an increasing population.
"Growth in its residential and commercial markets has been exceptional, but international developers have been put off by continued restrictions on land ownership," OBG said.