Wednesday, April 16, 2014

$4 Trillion Construction Boom In MENA Region!

With more than $40bn worth of new contracts awarded in the six-nation GCC alone in the first quarter, the projects markets of the Middle East are set to enjoy a record-breaking year in 2014.

So far, the high profile projects that have been awarded include the $12bn Kuwait National Petroleum Company’s Clean Fuels Project; Qatar’s Ashgal has so far awarded over $3bn for the Expressway and LRDP projects; Abu Dhabi’s Musanada has awarded over $1bn worth of contracts for the Mafraq-Ghuweifat Road Development project; Qrail has awarded $700mn worth of contracts for the Elevated Section of the Doha Metro’s Red Line South project; and Al Reem Island in the UAE has awarded the main contract with a value of $705mn.

MEED's (Middle East Economic Digest's) latest forecast is that new contract awards in the GCC will approach $150bn in the year ending 2014 compared with about $135bn in the previous 12 months. The project boom encompasses all six markets and extends across all sectors.

Confidence is being further lifted by the irresistible rise in project spending in Iraq where oil production last year reached an all-time high of more than 3m b/d. At least $20bn of new contracts are expected to be placed in Iraq by the end of 2014 in a capital investment program that will establish the country as one of the most exciting prospects in the world for the local, regional and global construction industry.

Figures compiled by MEED Projects show that a total of almost $2.5 TRILLION worth of contracts are planned or under way in the GCC. A further $500bn worth of projects are at a similar stage in Iraq. For the MENA region as a whole, more than $4 TRILLION worth of projects are planned or under way.

This vast, varied and challenging opportunity will be comprehensively reviewed in MEED’s annual Arabian World Construction Summit (AWCS) which opens in the Sofitel Hotel on Palm Jumeirah on 12 May.

More than 60 speakers representing all high-growth Middle East construction markets and the region’s largest  project sectors will address the event.

Among the highlights of the summit includes a keynote session on developing “Solution-based Delivery Strategies for the Region’s Complex Construction Projects. Dr. Faysal Alaquil, Director, Department of Business Development & CSR, Construction Products Holding Company (CPC) of Saudi Arabia, a Strategic Partner of the event, says the complexity of the Mega Projects either underway or in the pipeline requires contractors to design and execute to the highest quality standards available. “We will share a number of building solutions that will help transform these projects from concept and design to physical realities that are not only of the highest technical standards, but conform to sustainable and environmental practices.”

Across the region, there is a greater need for social and housing capacity. In the past six years, according data collated by MEED Projects, residential projects comprised 29 percent of total construction projects awarded during the period, followed by mixed use projects at 18 percent.

With real estate opportunities back to pre-bust days, meeting the growing demand for private residential and social housing developments will be of paramount importance. Imad Ghantous, Managing Director-Property, Hyder Consulting Middle East, says “rapid population growth will be a key driver of this continued growth in the construction sector, with a particular focus on residential and social infrastructure projects.” Experts currently estimate that the region’s population is expected to grow to more than 600 million by 2030, from around 340 million today.

Saudi Arabia, the Middle East’s biggest project market which is expected to witness more than $70bn of projects awarded in 2014, will once again be at the heart of the conference. Speakers will review the trends in the Kingdom’s construction industry and evaluate the opportunities in energy, water, rail, port and real estate markets. Special attention will be paid to the remarkable King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Rabigh where one of the world’s largest new ports started operations earlier this year, and progress on the Jeddah Kingdom Tower, the world’s tallest building, and the supporting development. A special presentation will be delivered by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), the largest new airport client in the Middle East.

The UAE will get special attention as investment in the federation starts in the race to the opening of the World Expo in Dubai. More than $100bn worth of new projects are on the agenda for the Emirate which expects 25m people to visit the six-month expo. The conference will review some of the largest real estate developments in Dubai including exciting projects being developed by Meraas Holdings.

Other markets to be reviewed will include Oman, Bahrain, Iraq and Egypt where 40 Mega Projects worth more than $500m are planned or under way.

The challenge of delivering complex, multi-component Mega Projects will be one of the key themes of AWCS 2014. Regional and global experts in Mega Project delivery and the role high-level program management can play in bringing Mega Projects in on time and budget will be among the primary topics of the event.

“The AWCS was launched in 2007 and is established as the premier annual event for major clients and senior construction industry executives working in the Middle East Mega Project market,” says MEED Events Chairman Edmund O’Sullivan. “This year, the delegates will learn about the widest range of new projects and construction opportunities since the first AWCS opened seven years ago. I’m confident they will leave inspired to intensify their efforts across the region.”

As the premier construction event in the region, AWCS has been able to enlist the support of CPC and HSBC as Strategic Event Sponsors; Hyder Consulting and Six Construct as Gold Sponsors; Projacs, AGIS and Mashreq as Silver Sponsors; Drake & Scull, Hill International, Zurich and AKSA as Conference Sponsors; Deloitte as Knowledge Partner and EC Harris as Lunch Sponsor.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Oman Comes On Strong With New Salalah Rotana Resort

The five-star Salalah Rotana Resort is now officially opened in the capital of the southern Omani province of Dhofar. The stunning 400 room waterfront resort, part of the company’s steadily expanding Rotana Resorts, is the Sultante’s largest free-standing hotel in Oman.

“We pride ourselves in identifying desirable travel destinations and are excited to begin a new journey today at the first hotel to be operated by Rotana in Oman. Not only does it take us one step closer to reaching our ultimate vision but it has strengthened the company’s standing as the leading hotel management company in the region,” stated Omer Kaddouri, President & CEO of Rotana.

Set on the pristine Arabian coast only a stone’s throw from the famous Salalah Beach, each of the resort’s luxury rooms and suites are positioned directly on unique lagoons or nestled around water features and an elaborate network of man made waterways which connect the property to the Indian Ocean and which are filled with 105,000m2 of seawater refreshed every four days using natural tidal patterns.

Salalah Rotana Resort sits at one with nature, and has been designed to offer guests a distinctive sense of calm. Drawing inspiration from the landscape’s natural beauty and culture, the heart of the hotel boasts high ceilings and a central internally-lit handmade red clay dome complementing the wooden finishing and decorative mashrabiya latticework windows. The in-room furnishings have been carved from desert rock while Arabesque geometric designs and stone archways, constructed using traditional techniques, resemble a cathedral atrium.

Ranging from 43 sq meters to 143 sq meters, Salalah Rotana Resort boasts some of the most spacious accommodations in Oman. Private terraces or balconies, ensuite bathrooms and generous living areas in each room and suite allows for optimal privacy and superior comfort in a grand setting.  The perfect destination for every type of traveller, the resort’s wide variety of dining options range from casual beachside cuisine and all-day-dining to fine dining Middle Eastern and Western fare.

Guests looking to rejuvenate and rebalance the body can make use of the Bodylines leisure and fitness club and impressive outdoor pool or indulge in spa treatments at Zen the spa, Rotana’s home-grown spa concept derived from ancient holistic Asian philosophies, which includes eight single-sex only treatment rooms and blends natural Omani elements with holistic treatments and rituals including full body massages, facials and soothing wraps.

Business visitors will benefit from a superb range of meeting rooms and a state of the art Business Center in addition to an array of business and leisure facilities.

Whether socializing at The Beach Bar & Restaurant, relaxing by the poolside or spending time with children in the sophisticated playful Kid’s Club, Salalah Rotana Resort exceeds the expectations of the most discerning guest.

++ I am glad to see Oman developing their own kind of Mega Projects that fit perfectly with the overall environment of the Sultanate.

Here is a link to the Salalah Rotana Resort site:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Qatar Registers Second Highest Growth Rate In GCC Projects Market

Qatar’s projects market grew 26 percent last year, the second highest growth rate in the GCC, where project awards increased overall by 21 percent between 2012 and 2013, the first growth year since 2009.

The data was presented in a breakfast briefing at the Qatar Projects Conference, where a MEED Insight report detailed a comprehensive review of the GCC projects market from 2008-2013. The report said 2008 was a landmark year for Qatar, when over $22bn worth of projects were awarded predominantly by the construction and power sectors for megaprojects such as Ras Girtas Power & Water, Kharamaa Transmission Phase VIII, Barwa City Development and the Lusail Development.

Fast forward to 2013, Qatar maintains its momentum, awarding as much as $20bn on projects such as Qrail’s Doha Metro Red and Green Lines and several stations, which account for 41 percent of all projects awarded in the country.

Overall, during the period in review from 2008-2013, Qatar’s project market accounted for 12 percent ($96bn) of the total projects awarded in the GCC, for a massive outlay of an average of $16bn a year.

MEED Insight expects a robust 2014, with project awards estimated to range between $140-150bn. The outlook is also positive over the long-term, as GCC economies continue to grow and as the population explodes requiring further investments in infrastructure.

Challenges will most likely come from stiffer competition as contractors from Asia move to gain a bigger share of the market; and financing will play a factor in ensuring projects are not delayed.

Meanwhile, Elie Andraos, General Manager of Al Maysan, says the steady growth of the projects market is a great opportunity for heavy equipment and machinery suppliers. “Our participation in MEED’s Qatar Projects Conference 2014 is due to its importance in attracting local and international contractors. This conference is considered as a unique opportunity to display SANY’s heavy equipment and its proven reliability and quality in major construction projects in the GCC region. We are delighted to have participated, as it falls in line with Qatar’s 2030 vision in all aspects, particularly economic and construction,” he added.

Qatar Projects Conference concluded successfully, with optimism high among project stakeholders about the continued expansion of the projects market in Qatar. This year’s conference was supported by Samsung as the Official Technology Partner, Qatar Steel as Associate Partner, Mashreq and Global Building Solutions as Silver Sponsors, Parsons, Al Maysan and Larsen & Toubro as Bronze Sponsors.

Other corporate partners include Ibq (Gala Dinner Sponsor), Qatar Insurance Group (Lunch Sponsor), SEIB (Dedicated Partner and Breakfast Sponsor), PWC (as Reception Sponsor), HSBC (Masterclass Sponsor), Drake & Scull, ECG Engineering Consultants Group SA, Zurich Insurance and Hill International as Conference sponsors; and Shapoorji Pallonji as the Networking Sponsor.

Exhibiting companies include Al Jaber Engineering, ASTAD Project Management, International Aramoon Co Ltd as well as Salfo and Associates SA.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Marjan Island Resort & Spa Opens in Ras Al Khaimah

Located on a private island off the coast of Ras Al Khaimah, Marjan Island Resort and Spa opened its doors to the public this month.  Offering spacious and sumptuously decorated accommodations, the resort boasts a total of 302 rooms and suites with large balconies from which guests can view idyllic island sunsets with the warm waters of the Arabian Gulf right on the doorstep. All rooms and suites, designed in palatial grandeur and thoughtfully decorated with Arabian touches, feature exclusive amenities and advanced interactive multimedia systems.

Marjan Island Resort and Spa prides itself on being a true family destination with a superb range of facilities and activities for even the very youngest of guests, including an indoor-outdoor playground, Pirate’s Club, Youngsters Entertainment Fun Center, dedicated children’s swimming pool and a host of watersports on the island’s two pristine beaches.  Visitors will discover a variety of delectable dining outlets on the resort’s 1-km seafront boardwalk.

Relaxation and wellbeing are essential elements of the resort’s vision, with an entire floor dedicated to the La’Mar Holistic Wellness Spa which houses separate ladies and gentlemen’s treatment rooms, Hamams, steam rooms, saunas, Jacuzzis, gyms and an indoor swimming pool.   Guests can book an appointment with a nutritionist or a cosmetic specialist, which forms part of the resort’s extensive wellbeing facility.

For business there is no need to leave the resort.  With a 250-person ballroom, fully serviced business center as well as a boardroom and various breakout rooms, executives and decision-makers will have everything they need to get the job done.

“I’ve been in the hotel business for over 30 years, and you don’t get opportunities like this very often, to work in a destination as beautiful and rewarding as Marjan Island - Ras Al Khaimah, managing a property as amazing as Marjan Island Resort and Spa,” said Roger Tannous - General Manager, a Lebanese national who is also fluent in English and French and Arabic. “I am thrilled to be working with Marjan Island Resort and Spa’s management and owners. This resort is a one-of-a-kind, offering families a complete immersion in an authentic, intimate Arabian experience soaking up the culture, hospitality, tranquility and stunning surroundings, and that remains truer today than ever before.”

“We already have such an incredible property, the type of place where you can spend a week and not go out at all, just soaking up the cultural experience and one of the regions’ biggest spas, fine restaurants and lavish guest rooms,” said Khalid Motik – EAM Marjan Island Resort & Spa.

“We are confident that now is the time to bring Marjan Island Resort and Spa Ras Al Khaimah to the world. We have listened carefully to what our customers are looking for and we have taken the necessary time to ensure the product offering is just right. It has been meticulously planned and we are extremely happy with the result.” Mr. Motik further added.

++ Marjan Island Resort and Spa is owned by Manazil Real Estate Group of Sharjah and managed by InnovationZ Hospitality Group, specialists in resort operations, and is located on a private island off the coast of Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. They have done a great job with the development of this Mega Project! Here is a link to their website:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Completed GCC Construction Projects Up 27 Percent In Value For 2013

++ Total value of completed projects reached US$69.91bn

++ Residential (US$30.3bn), Commercial (US$12.7bn) and Education (US$7.01bn) were the leading sectors

++ GCC Interior Contracting and Fit-out Market also increased by 8 percent

++ A further 17 percent and 18 percent increase forecasted in 2014 for the Construction and Interiors Markets respectively

Construction projects across all building sectors worth US$69.91bn were completed in the GCC in 2013 according to a study conducted by Ventures ME and commissioned by DMG Events. The research also looks into 2014 and estimates projects for US$83.41bn (+17.43%) to be completed and US$82.2bn to be awarded across the year. US$7.81bn is the value of the related 2013 GCC Interior Contracting and Fit-out Market that registered an 8 percent increase compared to 2012 and is expected to increase by another 18 percent this year.

This is the third consecutive year that DMG Events, the company behind INDEX - the leading MENA Design exhibition – and workspace at INDEX, has invested in the study, contributing to the global industry with useful regional market insights.

Overview of 2013 GCC Building Construction Projects:

With residential (43.3%), commercial (18.2%) and educational (10%) segments leading the way, 2013 has been a positive year for the construction market. US$69.91bn worth of projects were completed with a further US$71bn worth of projects awarded. Hospitality, medical and retail buildings were also completed – with total values of US$4.6bn, US$2.4bn and US$1.8bn respectively.

KSA and the UAE rank in the top two positions for all sectors with the exception of education and healthcare for which Qatar ranks top with completed projects worth US$4.6bn in the educational segment (KSA: US$1.01bn; UAE: US$714m) and worth US$1.12bn in the healthcare segment (KSA US$482m; UAE US$570m).

Overview of 2013 GCC Interior Contracting and Fit-out Market:

The value of the GCC Interior Contracting and Fit-out Market in 2013 was US$7.81bn – an increase of 8 percent when compared to 2012. KSA was the largest market with a 47.4 percent share (US$3.7bn) followed by the UAE and Qatar valued at US$2.39bn and US$953m respectively. The residential sector accounted for almost half of the overall 2013 market with a market share of 42.6 percent (US$3.33bn). The commercial sector followed with a 17.9 percent share corresponding to a value of US$1.40bn and the hospitality sector with 13.4 percent share and a value of US$1.05bn.

2014 Forecast:

According to the Ventures ME study, figures for 2014 are expected to increase further for both the building construction and interiors markets. US$83.41bn worth of completed projects and US$82.8bn worth of awarded projects are forecasted over the next 12 months; the interiors market is also likely to grow by 18 percent and reach an estimated value of US$9.2bn by the end of the year.

Building Construction Market 2014 Forecast:

The Healthcare Sector is expected to grow by 250 percent from a value of US$2.4bn registered in 2013, to an estimated value of US$8.4bn. The UAE in particular will be the country with the majority of healthcare buildings completed worth a total value of US$3.19bn - almost five times the value registered in 2013 - followed by KSA with US$3.09bn and Qatar US$1.7bn. Kuwait is also worth highlighting with the value of projects completed moving from US$47m in 2013 to an estimated US$317m in 2014.

Despite the huge increase in the Healthcare Sector, the building construction market will still be led by the residential and commercial sectors that together will account for over half of the market share concentrated particularly in KSA, the UAE and Qatar.

Interior Fit-out Market 2014 Forecast:

Out of an overall estimated market value of US$9.2bn, the Residential Sector will account for 35.9 percent and US$3.33bn in value, followed by the Hospitality Sector at 19.8 percent and US$1.82bn of value and the Commercial Sector with 15.7 percent and US$ 1.44bn in value. When compared to 2013 figures, the Healthcare Sector will see the biggest growth with a huge 256 percent increase and reaching a value of US$672m. The Retail Interiors Market is expected to see the biggest drop in value from US$393m to US$308m.

Commenting on the figures released by Ventures ME, Frederique Maurell, Group Event Director for INDEX and workspace at INDEX, said: “Most segments of the GCC Building Construction market have recovered significantly from the downturn and 2013 has been positive with residential, education and hospitality segments in particular showing signs of growth and a strong recovery.”

Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Hazaa Bin Zayed Mega Project For Al Ain

Major details of the massive mixed use Hazaa Bin Zayed Stadium project in Al Ain have been announced today including a hotel, residential and commercial buildings, a sports center, and food and retail outlets. Once complete, the project will be the main attraction for hundreds of community, entertainment and business events.

The new development covers an area of 500,000 square meters which, in addition to the main stadium, includes a community with 700 residential units in a complex of apartments and green spaces, two office buildings of 20,000 square meters, and a chain of 50 restaurants and retail outlets plus a 172 room international hotel.

The project, which will be constructed in phases, will have a public courtyard for both visitors and residents, stylish promenades linked together by a network of pedestrian walkways and a family entertainment area synonymous with a healthy and modern lifestyle. The multi-use project is part of a vision of building a touristic, social and sports destination that includes Hazaa Bin Zayed Stadium and the area surrounding it, to foster ongoing growth and development in Al Ain and the UAE.

The Hazaa Bin Zayed Stadium, which will be launched mid-January 2014, is considered an architectural marvel and one of the most impressive and technologically advanced sports constructions in the UAE. It can accommodate 25,000 spectators and was built in only 17 months, measuring up to the best international standards.

The development is located in the strategic Tawya area of Al Ain, which is easily accessible for visitors coming from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and with close proximity from the city’s main roads. It is only 15 minutes from Al Ain Airport, and is situated near other main attractions in Al Ain which makes it one of the most sought after destinations by families in Al Ain and the UAE in general.

The Plaza area will stand as the main part of the project and the head point for all sports and social gatherings, with the Hazaa Bin Zayed Stadium in the background adding even more atmosphere to the open spaces and surrounded by a number of restaurants and retail outlets.

The project will also include a healthy lifestyle area with a number of sports zones and a dedicated pool and gymnasium considered to be the biggest of its kind in Abu Dhabi. The whole project has been planned to reflect the principles of health and well-being and encourage a more sporting life. The Plaza and the area surrounding the stadium are designed to help walking as no cars are allowed inside. The outer area of the project includes cycling, jogging and walking tracks.

The family entertainment area provides its visitors with a wide selection of entertainment facilities that suit different age groups and several sports activities to help residents and tourists enjoy their time in a healthy and stylish atmosphere throughout the year.

The restaurant and café area is located near the hotel, linked together with a pedestrian design that provides access to as many of the development’s destinations as possible and provides a location for a variety of high-end restaurants and coffee shops.

The new stadium will be officially opened in January 2014. The celebrations will include a 3 day family festival from January 16-18, plus other events for launching the stadium. The 25,000 capacity Hazza Bin Zayed stadium will officially be the new home for Al Ain Football Club’s first team, and is intended to boost the sports activities in the UAE. The stadium covers an area of 45,000 square meters and it is 50 meters high which makes it one of the highest buildings in Al Ain City. It hosts more than 3,000 premium seats, one of the highest ratios of premium seating in the world for football stadiums. The mobile roof can move to cover the whole play field during the hotter months. The marvelous design of the outer façade of the stadium is inspired by the trunk of the palm tree which is an integral part of the UAE’s heritage and legacy.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Billionaires - World's Richest Arabs 2013

Here is a list compiled by of the World's Richest Arabs for 2013. I think you will enjoy reading it. These are the wealthiest Arabs in the world and most of them are involved in one way or another with the Mega Projects going up in the MENA Region. As you will see Saudi Arabia is by far the leader in Arab Billionaires. For some reason, aside from Prince Alwaleed of KSA, the list does not include any other Arab Royals. Perhaps this is because their net worth is harder to estimate.


1. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, KSA, $31.2 Bil

2. Mohamed Al Jaber, KSA, $12.66 Bil

3. Olayan Family, KSA, $12.5 Bil

4. Mohammed Al Amoudi, KSA, $12 Bil

5. Issam Al Zahid, KSA, $11.6 Bil

6. Sawiris Family, Egypt, $11.2 Bil

7. Kharafi Family, Kuwait, $8.6 Bil

8. Binladin Family, KSA, $8.1 Bil

9. Joesph Safra, Brazil/Lebanon, $7.5 Bil

10. Said Khoury, Palestine, $7.2 Bil

11. Bukhamseen Family, Kuwait, $6.8 Bil

12. Al Ghurair Family, UAE, $6.3 Bil

13. Kanoo Family, Bahrain, $6.1 Bil

14. Majid Al Futtaim, UAE, $6.1 Bil

15. Tareq Al Qahtani, KSA, $6 Bil

16. Bugshan Family, KSA, $6 Bil

17. Toufic Aboukhater, Palestine, $5.8 Bil

18. Mansour Family, Egypt, $5.1 Bil

19. Mohamed Abdul Latif Jameel, KSA, $5 Bil

20. Abdullah Al Rushaid, KSA, $4.6 Bil

21. Mubarak Al Suweiket, KSA, $4.5 Bil

22. Al Rajhi Family, KSA, $4.3 Bil

23. Gargash Family, UAE, $3.7 Bil

24. Adel Aujan, KSA, $3.56 Bil

25. Taha Mikati, Lebanon, $3.5 Bil

26. Mohammad Jamjoom, KSA, $3.4 Bil

27. Najib Mikati, Lebanon, $3.4 Bil

28. Alghanim Family, Kuwait, $3.4 Bil

29. Saad Hariri, Lebanon, $3.3 Bil

30. Sulaiman Al Muhaidib, KSA, $3.3 Bil

31. Abdulatif Al Fozan, KSA, $3.25 Bil

32. Hayek Family, Lebanon/Switzerland, $3.2 Bil

33. Bahaa Hariri, KSA, $3.1 Bil

34. Munib Masri, Palestine, $3 Bil

35. Zamil Family, KSA, $2.9 Bil

36. Mansour Ojjeh, KSA, $2.8 Bil

37. Mohammed Elkhereiji, KSA, $2.73 Bil

38. Ayman Asfari, UK/Syria, $2.7 Bil

39. Mohammed Sharbatly, KSA, $2.69 Bil

40. Osama Abu Dawood, KSA, $2.68 Bil

41. Wafic Said, UK/Syria, $2.6 Bil

42. Mohammed Al Barwani, Oman, $2.6 Bil

43. Ziad Manasir, Joedan, $2.58 Bil

44. Mohammed Al Issa, KSA, $2.38 Bil

45. Nadhmi Auchi, UK/Iraq, $2.2 Bil

46. Mohammed Ibrahim, Sudan, $2.15 Bil

47. Miloud Chaabi, Morocco, $2.1 Bil

48. Saleh Kamel, KSA, $2 Bil

49. Fawaz Al Hokair, KSA, $1.98 Bil

50. Ayman Hariri, KSA, $1.95 Bil


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Abu Dhabi To Spend $100 Billion On Projects!

Abu Dhabi’s project spending could balloon to over $100 billion in the next seven years as the government ramps up efforts to sustain economic gains built over the last few years.

The 8th Abu Dhabi Conference 2013, which began yesterday, highlighted the key sectors that will receive the bulk of investments until 2020.

According to MEED, which tracks projects activity throughout the Middle East, construction projects remain the most active with $30 billion worth of projects to be awarded in the next seven years, followed by the Oil & Gas sector with a project pipeline valued at $25 billion.

Transport and chemical-related projects will also see a surge in investments with a total of $20 billion contracts to be awarded during the same period. The industrial as well as power & water sectors will likewise be busy with contracts valued at $6 billion and $5 billion to be awarded until 2020.

H.E. Eng. Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehhi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy delivered the opening address this morning, and said that the UAE economy is growing strongly and will benefit from new government measures designed to promote the private sector and foreign investment. “The UAE economy is on solid ground. It has been attracting visitors and investors looking for a safe haven in the Middle East. Growth was 4.4 percent in 2012, its fastest pace since 2006. In view of improved activities, we expect UAE GDP to have expanded by 4.5 percent this year.”

Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) Undersecretary H.E. Mohammed Omar Abdullah then spoke to the conference delegates about creating a business hub critical to the global economy, highlighting the initiatives and upcoming projects aimed at driving long term investments into Abu Dhabi.

And for the first time at a conference – H.E. Dr. Abdullah Hassan Ghareeb Al Bloushi, Executive Director, Land and Property Management Sector, Department of Municipal Affairs presented details of the Onwani project – the unified addressing and wayfinding project for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, saying “This is the largest project the municipal system in Abu Dhabi has ever undertaken, and it is also one of the Emirate’s most important. The vital infrastructure provided by the new addressing system will take us forward to meet future economic and social challenges and bring real benefits to residents, businesses and visitors alike. It is not only a street map for the Emirate, but a road for development.”

This year alone, based on an article 'Gulf projects market hits new peak' recently released by MEED, the construction sector in Abu Dhabi picked up pace when the Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) awarded the long-awaited $653m contract to build the Louvre Museum on Saadiyat Island to a consortium comprising the local Arabtec Construction, Spain’s San Jose and Oger Abu Dhabi – the local affiliate of Saudi Oger.

TDIC has also tendered the contract to build the Zayed National Museum on Saadiyat Island, although an award is not expected this year. In July, Abu Dhabi-based Saadiyat Investment & Development Company awarded a $482m contract to local Al-Jaber Building for the construction of 462 villas at the Hidd al-Saadiyat Villas Development on the island.

As a result, along with new projects awarded in Dubai, the UAE has seen the largest rise in project activity in the GCC this year. MEED’s Gulf Projects Index is now at its highest level ever, having reached $3.19 trillion this month.

“The return to growth is the latest chapter in what has been a roller coaster ride for the index over the past seven years. The index remained relatively flat until about 12 months ago, when it began to move upwards as stalled projects were revived and new schemes launched, which has seen it grow more than 30 percent to its current level of $3.19 trillion. The major driver of this growth has been the UAE, with Abu Dhabi contributing a significant chunk of investments,” said Richard Thompson, Editor, MEED.

By 2014, the IMF has forecasted real GDP growth for the UAE of 3.6 percent (up from 3.1 percent last year) owing to the government’s continued push to boost the economy led by a spate of new infrastructure investments.

“Abu Dhabi has targeted knowledge-intensive sectors, such as aviation, petrochemicals, renewable energy and health care. The developments across these strategic sectors are aimed to make the capital an attractive proposition for domestic and international investors,” said Abraham Akkawi, MENA Infrastructure Advisory Services Leader, Ernst & Young.

Yesterday’s highlights included a special VIP Plenary Session that provided a snapshot of project opportunities, achievements and challenges faced in delivering Abu Dhabi’s economic vision 2030 across key sectors. The session was led by a panel of authorities from Abu Dhabi’s key agencies such as the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi (EAD), Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), Industrial Development Bureau as well as the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.

The Abu Dhabi Conference is an annual gathering of government and private sector leaders which enables discussions and updates on upcoming project and investment opportunities in Abu Dhabi’s diverse economy. It is a heavily Government supported event, with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Group, Western Region Development Council and Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority as supporting partners; The Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority as Strategic Partner, Zones Corp as Industrial Partner and the Abu Dhabi Chamber as silver sponsor. Other conference partners include Al Khalij Bank Hill International, E&Y, Bentley Systems and Mashreq. For more information on the conference:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dubai Wins Bid For World Expo 2020 - New Boom For Dubai!

Dubai is on the cusp of yet another development boom as it seeks to strengthen its position as the leading business and tourism hub in the region.

Detailing the latest investment and development opportunities in Dubai, MEED(Middle East Economic Digest) has organized Destination Dubai 2020 to dissect, along with local and international experts, the various factors that will shape Dubai’s development trajectory in the next six years.

Among the highlights of the conference presentations and panel discussions include the impact of Dubai winning its World Expo 2020 bid, with leading stakeholders from across Dubai’s key government agencies outlining their future plans in detail for the first time after securing the rights to host the expo.

The total value to the economy of staging the event has been estimated at AED143.22bn. More than 277,000 jobs would be created between 2013 and 2021 as a result, with about 40 per cent in the travel and tourism sector. For every Expo employee, about 60 additional jobs would be sustained in the wider economy.

“MEED has organized Destination Dubai to track the exciting new developments happening in Dubai until 2020, a critical case especially in light of its winning expo bid and just a decade before the governments 2030 vision for the country. We wholeheartedly support Dubai’s Expo 2020 bid and look forward to working with our friends and partners in Dubai and the UAE to ensure the 2020 Expo will be the best ever," Ben Greenish, Managing Director, MEED.

Dubai’s bid dossier estimates hosting the expo will cost $8.7bn in total – $7bn in investments and operating expenses of $1.7bn. Capital expenditure will mainly cover the development of the expo’s planned 4.4 square-kilometer plot in Jebel Ali and connecting infrastructure such as extending the Dubai Metro’s Red Line.

However, investors surveyed by the local chapter of CFA Institute, a global organization of investment professionals, are concerned that a successful bid by Dubai to host the expo could lead to another economic bubble. The study measured the opinions of 216 investment professionals in the UAE, and found out that more than half of the survey’s respondents (55 per cent) were concerned that a successful bid for the Expo 2020 will create another economic bubble, and only a quarter believed the UAE has done enough to make its economy immune since 2008.

Meanwhile, Egypt-headquartered investment bank EFG Hermes says the expo will make the country’s debt situation more pressing than it is now. “If the next phase of the investment cycle, accelerated by the Expo, is not met by revenue-building measures and asset sales, this could result in total Dubai debt rising to 110-115 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020, up from 102 per cent of GDP currently,” the lender said in a report.

Without a doubt, the winning expo bid will provide a massive tourism boost. It is estimated that over the six months of the event 25 million people would visit Dubai Expo 2020, with more than 70 per cent coming from outside the UAE.

Destination Dubai will track the road map to Dubai’s continuing economic recovery, providing investors and stakeholders insights on what is driving confidence in the Emirate’s equity market, which this year has seen a 60 percent rise in growing confidence in Dubai’s long-term prospects.

Of primary importance to the readers of this blog will be a dedicated session on the real estate sector that will provide attendees key insights on one of Dubai’s most critical growth drivers. “Real estate prices in the Emirate have risen more than 30 per cent since the start of the year on growing demand from local, regional and international investors. In addition, major private and government-related real estate projects involving billions of dollars of new investment in Dubai have been announced, opening a possible new boom phase in Dubai’s property market,” says MEED’s editorial director Richard Thompson.

Other initiatives that are transforming Dubai into an unrivaled global hub and the gateway to the high-growth emerging markets (CIS, Africa, China and India) will be comprehensively discussed at Destination Dubai, detailing the road map for the build up and creation of a genuine and holistic “destination” involving travel, industry, real estate, tourism, retail and hospitality infrastructure and support systems.

++ In my opinion Dubai's winning bid for World Expo 2020 is extremely POSITIVE for the real estate market in Dubai and the rest of the UAE. The best is yet to come!

Scheduled to take place on January 28-29, 2014 at the JW Marriott Marquis, Destination Dubai is sponsored by Hill International.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dream-Marina 101 Moving Right Along!

Dream-Marina 101 is set to open by the end of 2014. This super-tall development in Dubai Marina is a comprehensive lifestyle project conceptualized by Sheffield Holdings Ltd.

Dream-Marina 101 seeks to promote a unique concept of haute living that encompasses nearly everything in terms of luxuries with world-class restaurants, roof top nightclub and recreational facilities. "We are proud to announce that nearly 80% of our hotel apartments are sold." said Abu Ali Malik Shroff, Chairman of Sheffield Holdings LTD.

The hotel will house 300 guest rooms and 420 branded hotel apartments featuring one and two bedroom units. The construction on the exterior of the tower is close to completion with the elevator going up to all 101 floors.

The interior finishing touches have been carefully chosen, with energy efficient light fixtures and Spanish ceramic tiles in every apartment. All internal doors are fire resistant, meeting international standards and ratings for the building. Nearly sixty million dirhams have been additionally spent on the interiors since the appointment of the hotel operator.

Dream-Marina 101 has confirmed partnerships with world’s leading restaurants such as Bombay Palace, which currently has branches in England, North America, Canada and India. Another highlight of Dream-Marina 101 is its roof-top bar which will be occupied by Ph-D, known for being the nightlife state-of-the-art in Manhattan, New York.

Shroff further added, "Dubai has and will always remain a fantastic destination for residents and tourists. We are offering a unique and hassle-free investment opportunity mirroring the growth of the Dubai real estate market. All our investors will enjoy 28 days of free stay in the hotel apartments per year, and will benefit from a guaranteed 75% return of the net profit".

++ Sheffield Holdings LTD is one of the leading Dubai-based private developers. Here is a link to their website:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

UAE's Hadara Teams Up With Egypt's Rooya Group

UAE based development company, Hadra, has signed an MOU with Rooya Group, one of Egypt’s premier real estate developers. Hadara, which is a member of Tharaa Holding Group, has announced its plans to co-develop an upscale hospitality and residential project within Rooya’s Stone Park Katameya master development in New Cairo.

This project comes with recent announcements of Egypt’s credit rating increase by S&P, making it an attractive option for investors. The Stone Park Compound, winner of Cityscape Egypt 2013 Best Future Residential Project Award, will offer a selection of luxury residential and hotel apartments and villas, providing a resort-living style to its residents. The project consists of a series of luxury low-rise buildings surrounded by resort-style recreational facilities as well as a prestigious villa community offering standalone villas as well as townhouses.

The project will be part of the award-winning Rich Village series, a global luxury living concept developed by Hadara.

In addition, the project will be surrounded by many attractions, including a world-class Golf Course, Cairo Festival City Mall, the prestigious “Down Town” shopping district and City Stars Mall. Furthermore, The Stone Park Compound will feature many lifestyle and recreational facilities including restaurants, cafeterias, shops, a private club with pools, a spa, a children’s fun zone with indoor and outdoor play areas, tennis and squash courts and a multi-purpose sports field.

Mr. Tariq Ramadan, Chairman of Hadara, expressed his excitement about the opportunity to expand outside the UAE and into a stable and growing market. He said, “This luxury project will be suitable for GCC customers and investors. It demonstrates a true smart and safe investment since it offers capital appreciation and attractive returns. At the same time, all sales revenues will be deposited into an Escrow account dedicated only to the construction of the project as well as other project related direct expenses. This means that investors’ money is 100% protected and guaranteed to be spent on the project”.

Commenting on signing the MOU Architect Hesham Shoukri, CEO & Executive President at Rooya Group, quoted, “This partnership adds a new dimension to our Stone Park master development by developing a luxury project that attracts buyers and investors from outside Egypt, especially those from GCC countries. The unit owners will have the option to live in their units, hand them over to the hotel management company to rent them out for tourists, or a combination of both. This means that owners, especially those who are living in other countries, can enjoy a free 5-star living while on vacation in Cairo, and make money on their units when they are away. On the other hand, investors who choose to hand over the property to the management company, will enjoy attractive returns on their properties”.

++ Hadara is a newly established UAE-based real estate development company operating worldwide through the development of real estate projects owned or co-developed by it. The company was founded by Mr. Tariq Ramadan who is considered one of the leading real estate industry figures in the Middle East. Hadara’s vision is to become the most successful and innovative development company in the world. Hadara is a member of Tharaa Holding.

++ Rooya Group is one of the fastest growing real estate development and tourism investment companies in Egypt with an outstanding track record of successful completed or under development projects in Egypt valued at over US$ 2 billion. These projects include Stone Park Katameya in New Cairo, Telal Al-Sokhna Resort, Canals Village in Port Ghalib – Marsa Alam, and Telal Al Alamein on the North Coast.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oman Mega Projects On The Rise!

Like the rest of the GCC Oman is moving ahead strongly with Mega Project development. Currently Oman has over $100 Billion allocated for a wide variety of Mega Projects. In fact the Mega Project industry of Oman is expanding so fast that MEED(Middle East Economic Digest) is holding a large event October 28-30 in Oman at the Grand Hyatt Muscat called MEED Oman Projects Forum 2013. What follows is more information from MEED about the Forum and the Mega Projects being developed in Oman. Additionally I have included a chart of the top 40 Oman Mega Projects along with the amount of money (in US dollars) budgeted for each project.

A total of 50 speakers will address the event which will be attended by 200 delegates from the Sultanate, the Middle East region and the world beyond. The conference is supported by Oman’s Ministry of Commerce & Industry and will hear an opening address from His Excellency Ahmed bin Hassan Al Dheeb, Undersecretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

Figures compiled by MEED Projects show 40 major projects are being executed or planned in the Sultanate. Of these, almost 25 percent are for major projects in the construction sector, which is dominated by plans to build a new town in Duqm. A similar amount of capital investment is planned in the transport sector. This includes the $15bn national rail program. Oil and gas projects combined account for almost $40bn of major projects being executed or planned in Oman.

Oman is already pushing ahead with many major projects. Around $40bn worth of them are under execution, though some of the larger ones are at an early stage of development. But the largest portion of the Omani major project program is yet to come to the market. More than $50bn of major projects are under design or study.

The pace of execution of the major program is expected to be swift. Some $56bn of major projects under execution or planned are due for completion by the end of 2017. All $112bn of projects are due for completion by the end of 2022, MEED Projects figures show.

The forum will hear a progress update about the Duqm port and special economic zone, which is Oman’s largest single Mega Project with budgeted investment of $20bn. Duqm is to be the location of a 250m barrel oil storage facility and a range of new industries.

“We’re delighted with the response to this year’s forum,” says MEED Events Chairman Edmund O’Sullivan. “The speakers are first-class and we are very grateful to the Minister of Economy HE Dr Ali Al Sunaidy and his colleagues for their wonderful support. This conference will set a new benchmark for everyone doing business in and with Oman.”

Oman Projects Forum 2013 is supported by the National Bank of Oman as strategic partner; Oman Development Bank as SME Financial Partner; Ernst &Young as Knowledge Partner and Hill International as conference sponsor.


Project and Project Budget (in $Millions)

1.  Duqm new town 20,000

2.  Oman national railway 15,600

3.  Duqm refinery & petrochemical complex 15,000

4.  Khazzan & Makarem fields 15,000

5.  Muscat & Salalah international airport expansion 5,200

6.  Gas-based steel plant 3,000

7.  The Wave development 3,000

8.  Batinah expressway 2,600

9.  Sohar Aluminium smelter expansion 2,400

10. Sohar refinery expansion project 2,300

11. Duqm IWPP 2,000

12. Haima Solar thermal hybrid power plant 2,000

13. Oman convention and exhibition centre 1,800

14. Masirah island causeway 1,500

15. Sur IPP 1,500

16. Sultan Qaboos medical city complex 1,480

17. Batinah coastal road project 1,312

18. Bidbid to Sur dual carriageway 1,156

19. Yibal Khuff sour development project 1,050

20. Development of Block 60 (Abu Butabul) 1,000

21. International medical city 1,000

22. Rabab-Harweel integrated project 1,000

23. Saraya Bandar Jissah Resort 1,000

24. Sohar iron ore pelletising plant expansion phase 2 1,000

25. Sohar PTA & PET plant 850

26. Dualization of Adam to Thumrait road 800

27. Sur steel plant phase 1 665

28. Nahayda-Ras Markaz terminal-Duqm refinery pipeline 600

29. Solar power plant (CSP) 600

30. Bodour NE Integratedsour oil and gas development project 500

31. Condensate recovery maximization 500

32. Main oil line true vapour pressure control project 500

33. Marmul enhanced oil recovery facilities phase 2 500

34. Marmul enhanced oil recovery facilities phase 3 500

35. Ras Markaz crude storage terminal 500

36. Rima fields Cluster 500

37. Salalah EDC and caustic soda facility 500

38. Sohar iron ore pelletising plant 500

39. Suwaiq IWP 500

40. Water Discus hotel Oman 500

For more information visit:

Friday, August 30, 2013

23 Marina, Dubai - World's Most Luxurious Residence?

23 Marina, located in Dubai Marina and developed by Hircon International, may well be the most luxurious residential tower in the entire world. Although my main focus is on the real estate developments of the Middle East I also closely follow real estate projects all over the world and I must say I have not seen any other residential tower anywhere in the world that rivals 23 Marina in over the top luxury.

23 Marina is huge. In fact it is one of the tallest residential towers in the world, the third tallest tower in Dubai and the seventeenth tallest tower overall worldwide. The luxury amenities in 23 Marina are beyond anything I have seen anywhere in the world and they include an astounding FIFTY SEVEN swimming pools, a private elevator and private pool for EACH duplex in the tower, a lobby entrance hall 6 storeys high and a total of 62 elevators in the building!


> Official Name - 23 Marina
> Type - Residential Tower
> Status - Completed
> Country - United Arab Emirates
> City - Dubai
> Street Address - A-23-D, Plot No.392-568, Al Marsa, Dubai Marina
> Building Function - Residential
> Height - 392.8 meters / 1289 feet
> Floors Above Ground - 90
> Floors Below Ground - 4
> Number of Elevators - 62
> Top Elevator Speed - 8 m/s
> Structural Material - Concrete
> Start of Construction - 2006
> Completion - 2012
> Global Ranking - 17th Tallest Tower In The World
> Regional Ranking - 5th Tallest Tower In Middle East
> National Ranking - 3rd Tallest Tower In UAE
> City Ranking - 3rd Tallest Tower In Dubai
> Owner - Hircon International
> Developer - Hircon International
> Design Architects - Hafeez Contractor; KEO International Consultants
> Structural Engineer - KEO International Consultants
> MEP Engineer - KEO International Consultants
> Main Contractor - Dubai Civil Engineering
> Other Consultants - Mitsubishi Elevator and Escalator;  RWDI;  Dow Corning Corporation


23 Marina is a standing tribute of one country to another land. An ovation of recognition and respect. To the far-sighted vision that has transformed Dubai from a city of sand to a city of skyrises, making it a name that the world aspires to live in.


~ 57 Swimming Pools
~ 62 Elevators
~ 6 Storey Entrance Hall
~ Private Indoor Pool In Each Duplex Unit
~ Private Elevator For Each Duplex Unit
~ Indoor And Outdoor Swimming Pools
~ Children's Swimming Pool
~ 3 Levels of Spa & Health Club Facilities Including:
-- Men's And Women's Spas
-- Gym
-- Aerobics Rooms
-- Steam
-- Sauna
-- Indoor Swimming Pool
~ Landscaped Garden And Jogging Track
~ Business Center And Conference Room
~ 24 Hour Concierge
~ 24 Hour Convenience Store
~ Private Housekeeping Staff, Dry Cleaning And Laundry Services
~ Covered 8 Storey Car Parking With Private Access And Elevators
~ Valet Parking
~ Round-The-Clock Security System

++ With all of these features, if you lived at 23 Marina you might never want to leave! I think 23 Marina is destined to become an icon for Dubai living at its best. Dubai always strives to embody the pinnacle of excellence in all its Mega Projects and 23 Marina is the pinnacle of Dubai luxury living!

This link takes you to Hircon International, the developers of 23 Marina:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cayan Tower - A New Dubai Masterpiece

Dubai has just completed another architectural masterpiece to add to its ever expanding portfolio of amazing Mega Projects. Cayan Tower, located in Dubai Marina and developed by Cayan Real Estate Investment and Development Company, is the worlds tallest twisted tower. It stands 307 meters high and cost Dh1 billion to build. It is one of the most amazing towers I have ever seen!

President and Chairman of the Board of Cayan Group Ahmed M. Al Hatti described the project's quality standards saying: "Cayan Tower(formerly known as Infinity Tower) has been built according to the highest international standards for towers and that won it several international awards. The Tower has received 'Best Architecture' award in London's International Property Awards as well as four Arab Real Estate Awards in Dubai."

"The Tower was designed by Skidmore Owings and Merrill, otherwise known for projects such as Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Trump Tower in Chicago and Jin Mao in Shanghai. It is a 75-storey tower, rising at approximately 307 meters which makes it the highest twisted tower in the entire world," he added.

The project is characterized by its magnificent architecture, giving residents stunning panoramic views of the Palm Dubai  or Dubai Marina thanks to its 90 degree curve from top to bottom. In addition  construction and architectural plans have been put in place specifically for the development of the internal design which complements the exterior design of the tower.

> From Skidmore Owings Merrill:

'The Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)—designed Cayan (formerly Infinity) Tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was inaugurated by its developer, Saudi Arabia-based Cayan Investment & Development. The dramatically rising helix of the 75-storey building provides a distinctive landmark on the city’s storied skyline. The 1,010-feet (307-meters) tall reinforced concrete structure rotates a hexagonal floor plate around a circular core—with the top offset 90 degrees from the base. The shift maximizes views for each of the 495 apartments. “The lower portion of the tower is oriented toward the exciting waterfront promenade of Dubai Marina, while the upper floors are rotated to face the Gulf,” SOM Design Director Ross Wimer says.

'“Cayan Tower adds to SOM's significant impact on Dubai's 21st century skyline,” SOM Consulting Partner George Efstathiou says. “Its elegance, technological innovation and sustainability are hallmarks of our storied 75 year history. It takes its place with our finest designs, including the nearby Rolex Tower and Burj Khalifa.”

'Deep concrete exterior columns clad in a metal skin with perforated screens help shield the building’s interior from the intense desert sun. The tower’s innovative shape required equally innovative engineering. The corner and interior columns twist as they ascend, but most of the perimeter columns have an identical shape and tilted relationship to the floor plate. They are simply shifted, a bit more than a single degree, from floor to floor—resulting in a standardized construction method typical to most concrete structures.

'Mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are located in the core or within a zone between the central circulation corridor and the residential units, allowing straight vertical paths for these systems as the relationship between the apartments served varies between floors.

'The shape of the tower is not only aesthetically unique but it serves a structural function as well. Its twisted shape greatly reduces wind forces on the tower and “confuses the wind” in a way that wind forces cannot organize themselves.'

> Design and Amenities:

Each unit enjoys contemporary internationally styled interiors, marble and wood finishes, and premium fixtures and fittings. Every unit has fully fitted kitchens with appliances from such leading brands such as Bosch or Siemens, bedrooms with built-in wardrobes, as well as high-speed Internet facility and access to digital/satellite TV, state-of-the-art air conditioning, and a comprehensive automation system to control lights, air-conditioning and other functions from a central handset. The building has 7 elevators, for convenient access to each floor.

The building’s residential amenities include a fully landscaped podium with a rooftop park, outdoor infinity pool, whirlpool and children’s pool, located on the 7th floor. Other amenities include a health spa with treatment rooms, a gymnasium, conference rooms, a fully-equipped nursery, an outdoor tennis court and a fully enclosed parking garage with state-of-the-art security. At street level, there will be designated shopping and retail outlets for both residents and visitors.

Cayan Tower also provides 5-storey secure parking behind the building, as well as a 24-hour concierge and security.

++ Cayan Tower is a true Mega Project masterpiece. I think it will become a world landmark for incredible architecture!

Cayan Real Estate Investment and Development:

Skidmore Owings Merrill: