Dubai produces a real Pearl of a development - with Abu Dhabi cash
Normally, the Easter weekend is quiet, with not much on the social calendar. Thus, it came as a surprise that a VIP cocktail event was planned on Saturday night. The society folks not at their Bali or Phuket retreats instead dropped by the Grand Hyatt to see the Dubai Pearl display. No, it's not jewellery but an ambitious property development in the emirate featuring four connected 72-storey towers with five-star hotels, offices, luxury suites and surrounding amenities like malls, theatres, a man-made beach and temperature-controlled outdoor walkways. Yeah, it's totally the kind of extravagant project Dubai would try to build. But perhaps because it's funded by Abu Dhabi money, and there is plenty of that, its representatives don't seem worried at all by last year's credit and property collapse.
'We were still in the planning process when the downturn happened,' Ramy Jallad, the executive vice-president of business development, said of the project targeted for 2013 completion. 'As a result, it worked out very well for us. We got the best pricing. We were able to re-negotiate contracts. In a way, the crash was good because other projects were cancelled and only the serious players were left.'
The event and subsequent road show on Sunday and yesterday also attempted to attract more Asian investors willing to speculate, I mean invest in the luxury residences which have all sorts of brand names - Baccarat, MGM Grand and Bellagio - attached to them. 'Ten per cent of our buyers are already Asian. The market is keen on luxury and knows about brand names.'
Oh, the reason they were doing their sales pitch on a long holiday weekend? Sotheby's is their sales agent so it was piggy-backing on its weekend art auction event.