Emaar rides wave of revival in Dubai, with two projects and mall expansion

Giant starts expansion on its flagship shopping mall as developer seeks to gain from rebound

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 June, 2013, 4:07am

Emaar Properties started two new projects and began expansion of its flagship shopping mall as the developer of the world's tallest tower leads companies seeking to benefit from a rebound in Dubai's real-estate market.

Emaar is partnering with Meraas Holding to build the Dubai Hills Estate, 11 million square metres of a mixed-use development, featuring an 18-hole golf course. It is also in the final stages of talks with Dubai Holding, owned by ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum, to develop the 6.5 million square metre Dubai Creek Harbour project, a company statement said.

"When Emaar focuses on Dubai and it works on this kind of project at the higher end of the market, it has competitive advantage," Montasser Khelifi, a senior manager at Quantum Investment Bank in Dubai, said by phone on Sunday. "This is positive" for Emaar, he said.

The projects are the latest in a series of announcements as Dubai recovers from one of the steepest real-estate crashes after the 2008 global financial crisis. At the centre of the plans is Mohammed Bin Rashid City, a new district named after Dubai's ruler that will feature the world's largest shopping mall and gardens bigger than London's Hyde Park. Other projects include the world's largest Ferris wheel and five theme parks costing 10 billion dirhams (HK$21 billion).

Home prices in Dubai are climbing, with the average in mid-range villas soaring 47 per cent in the year to May and mid-range flat prices advancing 32 per cent, according to data compiled by Cluttons. Emaar, with the heaviest weight on Dubai's benchmark index, has surged 53 per cent this year compared with a 48 per cent rise for the measure.

Emaar's projects come as companies such as Tecom Investments, a unit of Dubai Holding, and Nakheel, the builder of palm tree-shaped artificial islands off Dubai's coast, started new developments. On Sunday, Tecom said it would invest 4 billion dirhams in the first phase of Dubai Design District for fashion, design and luxury industries, while Nakheel this year announced plans to build hundreds of villas.

Emaar has also started work on a "massive" expansion of the Dubai Mall, the world's biggest by area, state-run Emirates News Agency reported on Saturday. The expansion is part of efforts to attract 100 million visitors a year to the mall compared with 65 million last year.

Property prices in Dubai, the second-biggest of seven states that make up the United Arab Emirates, fell more than 65 per cent from a peak in 2008, as the credit crisis forced banks to cut mortgage lending and speculators left the market. The crisis also forced many firms, including Dubai World, one of the three main holding companies in the emirate, to restructure payments on billions of dollars of debt.