Friday, October 31, 2008

Nurai Island, Abu Dhabi-- Will This Be The Gulf's Most Exclusive Address?

There are many exclusive residential addresses in The Gulf. Armani Residences at Burj Dubai, Dubai Marina, Trump Palm at Palm Jumeirah, Villamar at Bahrain Financial Harbour, The Apartments at Kingdom Centre in Riyadh....to name a few of my favorites. However Abu Dhabi may well be giving us the most exclusive and expensive residences in all of The Gulf! The name of the project is Nurai Island. Being developed by Abu Dhabi developer Zaya (which is a joint venture between Tasameem Real Estate and Assas), Nurai will be a private community offering some of the most expensive estates and villas in the world. How expensive? Starting price for the 50 villas being offered is $10Million, and for the 35 estates at Nurai-- $19Million...and up!

If the price to own a home on Nurai does not make the development exclusive enough, consider the location. There are no roads or highways that go to Nurai. The only way to get to the island is by helicopter or speed boat! Nadia Zaal, the chief executive of Zaya had this to say:

"Zaya has a passion for creating unique lifestyle solutions that go beyond bricks and mortar. Using our unique understanding of the clientele and refusing to be bound by convention, Nurai is the most stylish contemporary living experience in the world. On Nurai, you can have your own piece of paradise and still be just minutes from Abu Dhabi. On this incredibly lush island, you will find a distinctive collection of limited edition resort beach front estates and water villas, along with all the services and comforts of a world class boutique resort."

The estates will have private gardens, private pool, private beaches, and will be built over an area of 12,275 square feet. They will have six bedrooms and seven bathrooms. A smaller version of the beach front estates feature five bedrooms and six bathrooms. Each estate is designed to blend with the natural surroundings of the island creating a stress free environment for residents.

The villas will be located on the water and have a cube shape to them, with glass windows on every side. Each villa will have three bedrooms and four bathrooms and occupy 5,540 square feet. Also included with each villa is an 18-meter pool and a roof top with another spa pool and barbecue area.

Nurai Island will also have: a 5-Star boutique hotel with 60 suites, 3 restaurants, multiple lounges, a private helipad and marina with an arrivals lounge for incoming residents and guests, a fitness center offering everything from squash to scuba to kite surfing, and the luxury Espa Spa featuring rejuvenating therapies from all over the world!

Wow! It looks like Nurai Island is yet another "step up" on the luxury ladder for The Gulf. And the world has taken notice. As of this writing almost all of the estates and villas on Nurai Island have been sold!!

This link takes you to the Nurai Island website:


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Van Oord-- The Mega Project Powerhouse You May Never Have Heard Of!

Everyone has heard of Emaar, Nakheel and ALDAR. But one of the most important companies in the Mega Project industry is one that most people have never heard of: Van Oord. Without this company there would be no Palm or World Islands. Van Oord is not a Mega Developer. What Van Oord specializes in is the EXTREMELY IMPORTANT job of LAND RECLAMATION. These are the people that actually CREATE the Palm and World Islands BEFORE the Mega Developers can go to work with their projects.

Van Oord's activities include:

- Land reclamation and artificial islands,
- Extension and improvement of harbors and waterways,
- Maintenance of harbors and waterways,
- Beach nourishment and foreshore replenishment,
- Environmental dredging,
- Trench dredging and backfilling,
- Deep sea dredging,
- Drilling and blasting.

I cannot emphasize enough how important Van Oord's work has been in the Gulf Mega Project Boom. Here are the Van Oord projects in The Gulf:

> Dubai - Beach replenishment and shore protection,
> Dubai - Deira Islands,
> Dubai - Dubai Maritime City,
> Dubai - Dubai Promenade,
> Dubai - Logo Islands,
> Dubai - Palm Deira Developments,
> Dubai - Palm Jumeirah,
> Dubai - Rock Transport,
> Dubai - The World,
> Fujairah and Shuweihat Terminals,
> Bahrain - North Bahrain New Town,
> Qatar - New Doha International Airport,
> Qatar/United Arab Emirates - Dolphin,
> Oman - Sohar Port.

Very impressive! Van Oord also has projects going on in China, India, S. Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Brazil, Venezuela, and all over Europe! According to the company:

'Van Oord is a world class marine contractor, working day to day on dredging and marine projects around the world. We have been building tomorrow's infrastructure for over a century now. Our business is to carry out challenging projects with our highly skilled professional staff and our modern production fleet.

'Van Oord executes projects of any size or complexity anywhere in the world. The combination of dedication and entrepreneurship perpetually creates new business opportunities. We offer our clients solutions to their problems - from the designing table all the way to project completion, conscious of the environment and anticipating local circumstances. We are continuously improving our equipment and work methods. Innovative thinking has led us to our present top position in the world of marine contracting.'

Van Oord is little known to the public but held in very high esteem in the Mega Project community. Without their work, the many incredible Mega Projects that are putting The Gulf on page one all over the world, would not exist!

Here is a Van Oord video from YouTube:


This link takes you to the Van Oord website:


Thursday, October 23, 2008

4th Annual Real Estate Investment World Middle East Conference

Here is yet another "should not miss" event that all serious Gulf real estate investors need to attend. The 4th Annual Real Estate Investment World (REIW) Middle East Conference will be held at the Shangri-La, Dubai, November 9-12, 2008. And even though we are in the midst of a world financial melt-down, real estate development is still very strong in The Gulf:

'Although most of the world's real estate markets seem to be dragged down by the on-going US subprime crisis, one realty region particularly stands out with very promising growth potential and ROI - Middle East. As if it has an invisible shield against the worldwide financial adversity, huge amounts of investments have been pouring into this area.

'The 4th edition of REIW Middle East forum is set to address the hottest issues pertaining to investment opportunities within MENA and in mature markets, private equity real estate, property developments and partnership models. This conference will present an excellent platform for you to get first-hand information from key industry players, renowned international experts and major decision-makers in the global property investment industry,' according to Terrapinn, creators of REIW Middle East.

I have taken a close look at the seminars that will be given and they really look great! Here is some of what will be offered:

> Defining the Private Equity Real Estate Proposition in Middle East – Assessing the Investment Climate, Investors’ Appetite and Deal Flow :

- Raising capital – the advantages of MENA liquidity and putting it to work.
- Addressing the competition with US, Asian and European funds.
- What’s attractive for private equity and investors in the Middle East real estate market?
- What type of deals are you pursuing and what type of returns have you seen this past year?
- Origination, execution, transformation and exit: challenges faced by PERE managers in the Middle East and how can they be overcome.

> Investing into Middle East Property Development Companies – The Smart Gateway to Entering the Middle East Real Estate Market:

- Transparency and corporate governance: the benchmarks for success and why it matters to private equity in the Middle East.
- Value creation strategies: How can Middle East developers harness the capital management expertise and international know-hows of global private equity?

> Developing Profitable Properties in the Middle East Through World Class Architectural Design, Engineering Support and Project Management Expertise:

- Addressing the role of developers and its value-adds to the engineering sophistication and construction expertises in Middle East property market.
- Mitigating the growing execution risks driven by the frenetic pace of developments - how can cost escalation be contained with rising construction and building materials costs?
- Benefiting from the ongoing infrastructure developments within the Middle East.

> Property Market Performance Update and Outlook in the MENA Region: Identifying High Yielding Real Estate Sectors for Investment Opportunities:

- Evaluating the investment climate in key Middle East markets: UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar.
- Affordable housing – a necessity in the region, but how attractive is this to investors? What are the yields and returns compared to luxury housing?
- Appreciation of the offices and commercial spaces in Qatar and Kuwait – will the trend continue in 2009?
- Construction of mega malls and mall extensions – examining how generating high level of rental returns can attract significant investment interest in retail spaces.
- The multi-faceted future of the hospitality sector in the Middle East – are Shariah compliant hotels an emerging trend?

All of the above is just part of what will be offered at REIW Middle East! This kind of information is invaluable for those serious about investing in Gulf real estate. If you can attend this conference I would highly recommend you do so.

This link takes you to the REIW Middle East 2008 website:


Sunday, October 19, 2008


And what a battle this will be! WOW!! Two great Mega Developers, Nakheel of Dubai and Kingdom Holding of Saudi Arabia, are preparing for a Mega Project "battle" over who will build the world's tallest skyscraper! A battle that will astound the world!

At this year's Cityscape Dubai, Nakheel unveiled a new landmark project called Nakheel Harbour and Tower. At just about the same time in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at the international architectural exhibition 'Towards the First World,' Kingdom Holding - the multinational investment company founded by world's richest Arab, Prince Alwaleed - unveiled Kingdom City and Kingdom Tower.

Both of these Mega Projects feature towers that will surpass Burj Dubai in height and grandeur! I will now give you what I currently know about each project.


> The height of Nakheel Tower will be over 1km (3,280 ft.),

> Total cost will be over $38 Billion,

> The tower was designed by Woods Bagot architects,

> Nakheel Tower will be located in the center of New Dubai near Jebel Ali,

> The tower will be a combination of four individual towers joined at various levels and centered on a single open atrium,

> Design elements for the tower will contain themes from Spain’s Gardens of Alhambra, Egypt’s Harbor of Alexandria, Iran’s Isfahan Bridges, and Morocco’s Promenade of Tangier,

> The tower will have over 150 elevators, more than 200 floors and will take an estimated 500,000 cubic meters of concrete to construct,

> A 100 room ultra luxurious hotel will be located at the top of Nakheel Tower,

> Project completion estimated for 2020.

Sounds fantastic! Just imagine what the Dubai skyline will look like when BOTH Burj Dubai and Nakheel Tower are finished!


> Height of Kingdom Tower to be over 1km (3,280 ft.),

> Cost is estimated at $27 Billion, which includes Kingdom City,

> Kingdom Tower will be located in Jeddah, the business center of Saudi Arabia,

> The design of the tower will be like a piece of beautiful sculpture reflecting the unique character of Jeddah and its natural surroundings,

> The tower is being developed by Kingdom Holding, an investment and development company founded by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal,

> Kingdom Tower and Kingdom City will "signify Kingdom Holding's contribution in placing Saudi Arabia at the forefront of the first world and reaffirming Kingdom Holding as one of the world's leading real estate developers," according to Prince Alwaleed,

> Some of the features of Kingdom Tower include a 5-Star hotel, office space, and luxury residences that encompass dramatic, sweeping views of the Red Sea.

Incredible! Kingdom Tower will be a Saudi masterpiece that the whole world will be in awe of!

So there you have it. Two great Mega Developers developing two of the greatest towers ever built in world history! What a race! What a battle! This is what LEGENDS are made of!

This link takes you to the Nakheel Harbour and Tower website-


...and this link takes you to the Kingdom Holding website (note: there is no separate website for Kingdom Tower as of this writing)-


Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Chedi, Muscat, Oman

Oman is rapidly becoming one of the premier tourist destinations of The Gulf. This Sultanate has created some of the most beautiful resorts found anywhere in the world. The Chedi, opened in 2003 and developed by General Hotel Management Ltd. (GHM), is one of Oman's finest resorts! It is located on its own private beach at the Bouchar Beachfront of Muscat and the architecture used in the project combines both Arabian and Asian themes.

The Chedi is an Ultra-Luxury development that is so beautiful it sometimes appears to me that it materialized right out of some modern day Arabian fantasy! The gardens are palatial with exotic flowers, geometrically perfect greenery and trickling fountains. The lobby features sparkling marble services, a symphony of Arabic lanterns, and fragrant flowers to welcome guests as they check-in...with drink and cold towel in hand! The Chedi is a great place to go if you need to de-stress from the fast pace of the Dubai financial scene.

Recreational Features:

> Spa,
> Gym & Health Club,
> Private Beach,
> 2 Swimming Pools,
> 2 Tennis Courts,
> Library,
> Lounge,
> Chedi Club,
> Sightseeing Tours,
> Fine Art Gallery & Boutique Shop.

The Spa is really something! It offers all kinds of exotic treatments like:

**Ocean. A 3 hour treatment that includes seaweed wrap, mineral body scrub and an ocean bath,

**Chedi Indulgence. Another 3 hour treatment featuring floral bath and aromatherapy,

**Silk. A 2 hour treatment with Balinese massage, silk body scrub and a body masque,

**Omani Bliss. I will leave this one up to your imagination!

The Chedi Spa is where you want to be if you are looking to unwind and totally relax!

The Chedi offers 4 varieties of luxury accommodations: Serial Rooms, Chedi Deluxe Rooms, Chedi Deluxe Club Rooms, and Chedi Club Suites. All are top of the line-- bright, airy, fine furnishings, views of either the Gulf of Oman or Haajjar Mountains.

Room Features:

- Satellite TV,
- High Speed Internet Access,
- Mini-bar,
- 24 hour Concierge Service,
- On-call Medical Service,
- Electronic Safe,
- 2 Independent Phone Lines,
- International Direct Dial Service.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am a big fan of Oman. It is not as dynamic as Dubai or Abu Dhabi....but it is not meant to be. Rather, Oman is like an Arabian Oasis where you can go to rejuvenate, relax and recharge. And resorts like The Chedi offer the finest facilities anywhere in The Gulf to do this!

This link takes you to the GHM website where you can click on The Chedi, Muscat sub-site:


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Will MONACO Be Home To Next Palm Island?!

This is some of the most interesting and exciting Mega Project news I have heard in quite some time! Many of us were guessing where the next Palm Island would be built. Naturally we thought it would be somewhere in the Middle East. My guess was Ajman and I heard many rumors to support this. Well, its not Ajman....in fact its not even the Middle East. It looks like it will be Monaco....on the French Riviera!! WOW!! This was announced via an article in ArabianBusiness.com entitled 'Monaco Aims To Start Work On Palm Replica In 2011.' Here is an excerpt from the article which came out on Oct 2, 2008:

'The race is on to build a replica of Dubai's world famous Palm islands in the Mediterranean tax haven of Monaco.

'Architecture giants Norman Foster and Daniel Libeskind are reportedly in the running after ruler Prince Albert II invited bids for the multi-billion-dollar artificial peninsula project, jutting out into the sea from below the Monte Carlo casino.'

Wow! Monaco is already the Jet Set capital of the world and home to some of the wealthiest individuals on the planet. Monaco is also a tiny principality with extremely limited amounts of property left for development. So what do you do if you want to expand but you don't have enough property available?? You build a new Palm Island! More from the ArabianBusiness.com article:

'The Prince will choose the winner from the five bidders and the result is due to be announced by February next year, with work to begin by 2011 and expected to last 10 years.

'A playground for the rich and famous, the plans underline the principality's determination not to be left in the shade by Dubai which is well advanced with its plans for three man-made islands, being built by developer Nakheel.'

A Monaco Palm Island will no doubt become a primary tourist destination for Europe and a fabulous new addition to Monaco, which will no doubt build more casinos, luxury hotels, luxury villas and homes, etc. on the island. It all makes a lot of sense to me. The ArabianBusiness.com article concludes:

'Estimated to cost up to $15 billion, the massive Monaco project would add 10 hectares to the principality's territory, according to media reports in France.

'Monaco's prime minister, Jean-Paul Proust, is quoted as saying Britain's Foster and his US rival Libeskind stood out among the five shortlisted bids for their technical and environmental qualities and respect for the natural site.

'But he stressed that no decision had been made and that Monaco authorities would review all bids in the light of the global economic crisis.'

It looks like the deal for a Monaco Palm Island could get the go-ahead anytime! I think a Palm Island would be great for Monaco giving the principality tremendous new potential for expansion and development of a wide variety of projects they currently do not have the space for. It looks like Dubai's Mega Project wisdom has spread to Europe!

This link takes you to the ArabianBusiness.com article used in this post:


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Gulf Will Be Primary World Financial Center

I have been telling you that The Gulf will emerge as the next big world financial center. With all the financial chaos going on in the USA and other parts of the globe right now it becomes clear to me that the new financial powerhouses of the world will be:

> The Gulf
> China
> India

This is where the growth is! As I stated in a previous post, the new mantra in the world of high finance is:

'Dubai, Shanghai, Mumbai....or Goodbye!'

So true.

And just look at some of the major Financial Mega Projects being built in The Gulf:

> Dubai International Financial Centre,
> Business Bay,
> Dubai Multi Commodities Centre,
> Bahrain Financial Harbour,
> RAK Financial City,
> King Abdullah Economic City,
> Barwa Financial District.

I was therefore quite delighted when I received an invitation to the Derivatives in the Middle East Conference to be held at Raffles Dubai, October 28-29, 2008. Here is a brief intro to the conference from Euromoney Seminars, the conference's creator:

'Derivatives and structured products in the Middle East are on the verge of an explosion. As GCC-based banks become more actively involved in global markets, the need for derivatives to hedge their exposure is categorical to the future growth of their business. Couple all this with the unprecedented growth of Islamic finance and the development of shari’ah compliant derivatives and structured products, the opportunities in the Middle East for derivatives bankers are unrivalled to anywhere else in the world.'

Here are some of the important issues that will be addressed at the conference:

> Assessing the liquidity of local derivatives markets with offshore markets – a practical comparison of sophistications across GCC markets.

> What derivatives trades are being approved by local regulators?

> What derivatives are permissible under shari’ah?

> How are asset managers and hedge funds employing derivatives to manage Islamic assets?

> What is the appetite for structured products and derivative-based investments amongst private bankers and high net-worth (HNW) individuals?

Here are some of the forums that will be given at the conference:

- Igniting the GCC’s equity derivatives boom – how are international investors using derivatives to tap into the region’s economic escalation?

- Setting standards within the framework of shari’ah – what are the ethical issues with Islamic derivatives?

- What risks are Islamic financial institutions exposed to and how are they being mitigated?

- Listed derivatives in the Middle East – a regional and international context.

- Managing a shari’ah compliant treasury – how are derivatives used by Islamic institutions to manage asset and liability risk?

- Demystifying Islamic derivatives – a practical comparison of cash flows in conventional swaps to shari’ah compliant structures.

More and more conferences like this are coming to The Gulf for one reason only-- the world fully understands that the The Gulf is becoming one of the most important financial centers on the planet!

This link takes you to the Derivatives in the Middle East Conference website:


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Schon Business Park, Dubai

Dubai, and the rest of The Gulf, are expanding at such a fast pace that more and more business space is required for all of the companies opening in this region. Dubai is without a doubt the leader in opening new businesses in the UAE and the $200Million Schon Business Park, located in the Dubai Investments Park, will provide more much needed office space for the rapidly expanding Dubai business sector.

Schon Business Park is being developed by Schon Properties, and will target a wide variety of companies from new start-up ventures to established corporations. It has been developed to provide end-users with a greater flexibility and choice than that offered to most businesses, with a variety of commercial spaces that can match the needs and requirements of any business. According to Danial Schon, Vice President of Schon Properties:

"Our extensive market research revealed that Dubai Investments Park and the Jebel Ali Free Zone area face a major shortage of office space, and a lot of companies are keen on moving offices to New Dubai. Hence, we chose Dubai Investments Park as the location for the project due to its unparalleled demand and its proximity to Dubai World Central and the Jebel Ali Free Zone. In addition to other unique features, the business park is also fitted with three skylights since natural light is one of the core elements in all our development guidelines."

Schon Business Park has a capacity to accommodate 4,000 employees in 410 offices. The facility will provide 3 types of offices:

> Business Center Offices. These offices are located on the first floor of the facility and are ideal for businesses wanting to open up as fast as possible. These offices are completely fitted and furnished as ready to work business centers. This includes internet, fax and telephone facilities, as well as video conferencing, meeting and board rooms.

> Shell Offices. These offices exist as basic shells, to allow businesses to create their own configuration to meet their needs.

> Core Offices. These offices fall in between the Business Center Offices and the Shell Offices. Core Offices are modular fitted out units where the tenant is able to take beneficial occupation of the premises with minimal fit-out required to make it fully operational.

Some of the amenities offered at Schon Business Park include:

- Supermarket
- Currency Exchange
- Restaurants and Cafes
- Spa and Salon
- Health Club
- Travel Center
- Prayer Rooms
- High Tech Security
- Underground Parking

"We have been listening to the needs of the market for a long time now. Following the results of our extensive market research, we developed Schon Business Park, a solution to the shortage of flexible and cost-effective office space in Dubai. One of the main reasons for the high demand was the ideal location within Dubai Investments Park, which incorporates office, residential, retail and recreational areas all at the site itself, and its close proximity to Dubai World Central, Jebel Ali Free Zone, and the Jebel Ali International Airport," said Danial Schon.

Schon Business Park is an ideal facility for any business wanting to locate in Dubai. Even more important however, is that projects of this kind represent excellent investments. Everyone seems to be running to invest in whatever the latest residential project is that comes to market. I think that over the long run investing in Dubai office space will turn out to be an even better investment! Case in point: Schon Business Park is entirely sold out!

This link takes you to the Schon Properties website. There is a nice video of Schon Business Park on the site that you can view.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Palm Hills Developments, Egypt

Established in 2005 by Mansour and Maghraby Investment and Development, Palm Hills Developments (PHD) is one of Egypt's premier Mega Project Developers. The company is not very well known outside of Egypt, and perhaps many of you have never heard of PHD, but Palm Hills is developing some of the most impressive projects in the Middle East. According to PHD:

'Our mission to redefine real estate development is focused on building into three directions: our diversified land bank, creative architecture and design, and high quality delivery and upkeep.

'Interweaving these three fundamental cornerstones, we began making our plans; initiating and implementing our strategic long-term ideas to meet the industry’s growing demands whilst ensuring the sustainability of such developments across the board.

'At PHD we uphold our reputation by continuing to deliver quality. Each PHD development project features solid construction principles with aesthetic charm, providing detail and efficiencies that go further than just their visible appeal.'

I will now cover the PHD Mega Projects by location.


> Palm Hills October. A 535,000 sqm gated luxury residential community that will feature The Club, a state-of-the-art sports and recreational facility that includes the five star Bodhi Spa, as well as a football club and a tennis academy.

> Palm Hills Golf Club & Resort. An upscale residential community containing the first 27-hole golf course in Egypt exclusively designed by Nicklaus Design. It also contains a membership-only club in addition to many other top notch services and facilities.

> Palm Parks. This is a commercial and residential development made up mostly of office buildings. Palm Parks has been designed to be a commercial and financial hub.


> Palm Hills Katameya. A residential community offering tailor-made, flexible sizes and designs for each individual home. Katameya is designed to be a haven from the hustle and bustle of city life.

> The Village & The Village Gate. Two residential communities that focus on young people, both located close to American University in Cairo. The architecture of the project is trendy and contemporary. Restaurants, a mall and cinema complex, and health clubs are all part of what is offered at these two projects.


> Palm Hills Sokhna. A luxurious mountain and seaside resort located in Ain El Sokhna. Facilities will include: villas, chalets, hotels, spa and gym, restaurants, night clubs, etc.


> CASA. A 1200 unit apartment complex located on 294,000 sqm of land. CASA will include amenities such as club house and spa, swimming pools, tennis courts, children's play areas, restaurants, etc.


> Hacienda Bay. An upscale 2,305,800 sqm beach resort with signature golf course, hotels, holistic spa, "party beaches," town homes, chalets and villas.

The Palm Hills Developments are leading the way in the rapid real estate expansion occurring in Egypt. Like the UAE, Egypt has incredible potential for Mega Project growth and Palm Hills Developments is a primary player in the industry!

This link takes you to the Palm Hills Developments website:


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