The top 25 developers in the GCC
CW counts down a list of the region's biggest quoted developers
In the wake of a triumphant series of announcements at the recent Cityscape Global event in Dubai, Construction Week runs the rule over the region’s biggest property developers.
Although the talk in UAE’s property markets over recent weeks has been about a slowdown in the market, with the amount of properties changing hands in Dubai in August falling by over 20%, there doesn’t seem to be too much of a halt in the progress of its developers.
Indeed, although CBRE reported a 1% drop in rental values during the past quarter, this was partly due to the fact that developers are completing schemes that had been stalled for many years and launching whole new waves ahead of further anticipated population increases in the run-up to 2020.
The prices of completed properties are still rising – up by 23% year-on-year in the third quarter, according to new CBRE research. Moreover, as prime areas like Dubai Downtown and Dubai Marina reach the kind of peak prices experienced during the last boom in 2008, some of the fastest growth has occurred in secondary areas.
A new MPM Properties report cited Discovery Gardens as Dubai’s fastest-growing community, witnessing a 35% rise and International City following with 32%.
Against such a backdrop, it is perhaps unsurprising that some of the biggest gainers in this year’s list in terms of share price increases are companies like Union Properties (290% increase) and Deyaar (147%), who hold major assets or land banks in non-prime areas such as Motor City and Business Bay respectively.
Indeed, four out of five of the developers who have witnessed the biggest rise in their share price are based in the UAE, while the other – Kuwait’s National Real Estate Co – holds a major asset here in the form of the Reem Mall currently being worked up at Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island.
Their stock has continued to rise as a result of strengthening balance sheets which, in turn, is giving them greater financial muscle and an ability to invest further in their future pipeline.
Methodology: This is a ranking of developers whose shares can be publicly-traded on any of the GCC’s stockmarkets, or on the London Stock Exchange. It therefore excludes a number of major developers whose shares remain in private hands.
The ranking has been based on the size of each company’s market capitalisation, with share values taken after the close of markets on Tuesday, 7 September.
1- Emaar Properties (Up 1)
Market cap: $20.9bn 12-month share price: 133.5%
Claiming the top spot, Emaar Properties is one of the most significant presences in the real estate sector of the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
The company has handed over 37,500 residential units and major schemes like Dubai Marina Mall (pictured, above) since 2001 and boasts more than 690,000m² of revenue-generating assets.
Currently, more than 60% of the company’s revenues come from its shopping malls and retail, hospitality and leisure subsidiaries, and international operations, hence the announcement at the end of August that it was proceeding with the sale of a 15% stake in Emaar Malls Group via an IPO.
Emaar Properties Group earned $2.81bn in revenues in 2013 and a net profit of $700mn. In the first half of 2014, revenues were down slightly to $1.38bn, with the malls arm contributing $340mn of this.
The IPO, set to launch this week, will generate $1.6bn for Emaar Properties, which it largely plans to return to shareholders. It will give the malls arm a market capitalisation on its own of $10.3bn. Demand for its shares was huge, with the offer more than 20x oversubscribed by individual investors and 30x by institutions.
Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, said: “We are delighted that the landmark initial public offering of Emaar Malls (EM) has been so successfully received by both institutional and individual investors. EM has performed very well across the business in the last five years.”
2 - Ezdan Real Estate (Down 1)
Market cap: $14.5bn 12-month share price: 13.5%
This real estate giant has reach across the region thanks to its history stemming from the 1950s. As expected the company is capitalising on the boom in Qatar’s property market. Leaving speculation over the final destination for the 2022 Wold Cup aside, the country is noting considerable uptake in projects and Ezdan Real Estate is at the heart of many of them.
Year-on-year sales jumped by nearly a third in June, according to figures released by the company, with land purchases making up an increasing proportion of transactions.
Of the 627 deals struck in June, 446 were for plots of land, indicating increased activity from developers rather than sales of completed units or resale activity.
Ezdan Holding has a diverse investment strategy and is involved in numerous sectors aside from real estate.
3 - Jabal Omar Development
Market cap: $12.9bn 12-month share price: 53.2%
Jabal Omar Development was initially set up to invest $3.2bn in projects located at the holy city of Makkah.
The remit includes 40 residential towers to accommodate 160,000 Islamic pilgrims, and a prayer area for 200,000 worshippers.
Accommodation options will include two five-star hotels with 935 rooms and six three-star hotels with 1,255 rooms. Residential buildings will house 100,000 people along with 520 restaurants and 4,360 commercial and retail units.
This year saw the opening of the 1,743-room Anjum Hotel-Makkah, which is now the largest hotel in the Middle East in terms of inventory. It also marks the launch of the first phase of the Jabal Omar real estate project.
In February, the company awarded a $613mn contract to build the fourth phase of the huge towers project near the Grand Mosque in Makkah to Ruwad Construction Company.
The fourth phase of the project consists of three podiums and seven hotel towers with a total built-up area of around 320,000m². It will be delivered over a three-year period to conclude in January 2017.
4- Aldar Properties
Market cap: $8.81bn 12-month share price: 86.8%
Aldar is very much part of Abu Dhabi’s growth and has developed some of the capital’s most iconic projects, such as the F1 facilities on Yas Island, the Shams Abu Dhabi community on Reem Island and Al Raha Beach.
Residential communities account for half of its assets, with retail property representing a third and the remainder split between commercial and hospitality. The company boasts a land bank of more than 77mn m² and, since a merger with Sorouh Real Estate was completed in June 2013, it has considerably strengthened its financial position, as well as launching $1.36bn of new projects.
The firm is also focussing more on recurring revenues from leisure, hospitality and retail including the new Yas Mall.
5 - Damac Properties (NEW ENTRY)
Market cap: $4.55bn 12-month share price: NA
Established in 2002, it’s been a very big year for Damac Properties as last December it became the first real estate company from the Middle East region to list on the London Stock Exchange the offer of Global Depository Receipts, although it is currently in the midst of seeking a dual listing on the Dubai Financial Market (see p.9).
Within the past few weeks alone the firm has made a string of new announcements, including a new 1,250-key luxury Paramount Hotel Downtown Dubai – its fourth hotel project – a second Trump International golf course in Dubai set in the 55mn ft2 Akoya Oxygen project and the securing of naming rights to the Dubai Marina Metro Station.
Niall McLoughlin, senior vice president, Damac Properties, told Construction Week after the success of the 42mn m² Akoya by Damac project at Dubailand (see p12), “Akoya Oxygen came as a logical continuity to this brand”.
Damac Properties is active in the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.
“We recently completed our first project outside of Dubai – Al Jawharah in Jeddah, KSA and continue to develop across the GCC,” McLoughlin continued.
“We have always stated that the majority of our projects will continue to be based in our home of Dubai. However, we continue to seek opportunities in other markets which can grow our luxury brand in areas which are mutually beneficial.”
6 - Dar Al Arkan Development
Market cap: $4.45bn 12-month share price: 67.5%
Dar Al Arkan’s chairman Youssef Al Shelash has ambitious plans – not only in Saudi Arabia but also to oversee the development of a couple of overseas projects in Europe.
The company, which witnessed an 8% increase in net profit for the first half of the year to $98.5mn, credited its improved financial results on an ability to sell homes at higher margins as a result of the improved development status of some projects and superior locations.
The company, which has raised around $700mn over the past 12 months with a view to embarking on more development projects, has also recently had its credit status upgraded by ratings agency Moody’s to Ba3, with stable outlook.
Moody's said that the rating reflected the strength in the operating and business environment including supportive macro fundamentals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the company’s significant value in assets with its land bank held at a book value of $45bn and investment properties valued at $960mn, as well as its conservative financial policy.
7- Barwa Real Estate (Up 1)
Market cap: $4.37bn 12-month share price: 76.9%
Barwa began operations in 2006. The developer is one of the country’s listed real estate firms, although its portfolio has shrunk recently as a result of a number of asset sales.
The company has sold a chunk of assets this year to Qatari Diar – the real estate investment business owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, which also controls a 45% stake in Barwa.
It finalised a deal to buy 95% of the Barwa Commercial Avenue mixed-use scheme for almost $2.5bn in July – part of a package of asset sales which, alongside the nearby Barwa City residential scheme and the Al Sadd office towers project, has brought in around $7.1bn that Barwa has said it will use to pay down debts.
Barwa has also continued to move forward with new projects, selling out the first phase of its Dara project in Lusail City at Cityscape Qatar and appointing contractors to build the second phase of the Barwa Al Baraha project providing worker accommodation on the outskirts of Doha. However, it also abandoned plans for the $5.5bn offshore Oryx Island.
8 - Emaar The Economic City (Up 1)
Market cap: $4.16bn 12-month share price: 15%
A near doubling of its market cap in the past 12 months is an indication of the success that Emaar The Economic City has had in moving forwards the development of King Abdullah Economic City.
Established in September 2006, it is responsible for the 168km² development near Rabigh, north of Jeddah. It is the biggest of four major industrial cities being planned for Saudi Arabia and will include a port, industrial zone, residential projects, commercial offices, educational institutions and leisure attractions.
Within the past 12 months, King Abdullah Economic City has had a new masterplan approved that reorganises the city’s office core around a new gateway provided by the Haramain High-Speed Rail terminal as well as providing more green space and natural lagoons.
Its key asset is its port, however, and after it began operations at the turn of the year – giving it the capability to handle an initial 1mn containers per annum – a decision was taken to ramp up development at the neighbouring Industrial Valley. It takes up around one-third of the city, at 63km².
Once fully developed, King Abdullah Economic City’s port will be one of the five biggest in the world, with a capacity to handle 20mn containers. It will be spread over 14km² of the city.
9 - Makkah Construction & DEVELOPment (Down 4)
Market cap: $3.71bn 12-month share price: 34.1%
Charged with developing the area adjacent to Makkah’s Grand Mosque, the company has been working on various projects including retail and hotel towers.
Net profit during the second quarter of the year was 97mn riyals compared to 111mn riyals for the corresponding quarter of the previous year, a decrease of 12.6%.
Gross profit also dropped by just over 9% for year on year comparisons, but was up 64.6% on the previous quarter.
The reason for the decline during the current quarter compared with the same quarter of the previous year was lower revenues and occupancy the company said.
It added that the rise in quarterly figures was due to the number of people visiting in Sha’ban and Ramadan.
10 - United Development Co
Market cap: $2.69bn 12-month share price: 50%
United Development Company’s most notable development is its flagship urban project The Pearl-Qatar. The master developer of The Pearl-Qatar, UDC was established in 1999 and listed on the Qatar Exchange in June 2003.
The Doha project has faced its fair share of challenges since construction began in 2004, but master developer UDC has confirmed 100% of the infrastructure of the man-made island, as well as the Porto Arabia, Qanat Quartier and Medina Centrale districts, is now complete.
The first residents moved onto The Pearl-Qatar in 2009 and there are now around 12,000 people living in a number of different communities. UDC is working alongside 15 other developers on bringing the remainder of projects forwards.
“We have overcome most challenges that had affected the real estate market globally, including the global financial crisis of recent years,” said a UDC spokesman.
“True, there were delays, but all infrastructure work at The Pearl-Qatar has been completed.”
There are also currently around 200 restaurants and retail units, with more due to open soon. The Pearl-Qatar spans almost 4mn m2 and is the first land in Qatar to be available for freehold ownership by foreign nationals.
The project is set for overall completion by the end of 2018.
Roger Dagher, director of corporate communications at UDC, said that as a mixed-use urban development, “The Pearl-Qatar offers a variety of real estate investment opportunities”.
11 - Mabanee (Down 4)
Market cap: $2.68bn 12-month share price: -1.82%
Mabanee is owned by some of Kuwait's top institutions and high net worth individuals, and currently has more than 1,500 shareholders.
The company operates under three main business lines; real estate, investment and construction.
Mabanee achieved solid financial results in 2013, exceeding figures of previous years and growth in net profit stood at 44%.
This was put down to a number of factors, most notably the inauguration of the third and latest phase of its flagship project, The Avenues retail and leisure development.
Net profit increased by 44% in 2013 to $169mn, from $115.6mn in 2012. Total assets grew to over $1.4bn.
Company chairman Mohammed A. AlShaya said Mabanee’s future plans “include the execution of a number of real estate projects in Kuwait and the region, in line with market requirements”.
“These projects will be of high feasibility to the company, especially given the availability of liquidity and the necessary expertise for the management of such projects,” he said as part of the company’s end of year statement.
Mabanee is also considering whether to develop or sell a 9,516m² land plot that the company owns in Salmiya.
12 - Knowledge Economic City
Market cap: $2.26bn 12-month share price: 81.3%
Knowledge Economic City (KEC) was set up by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz in June 2006 as part of Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification strategy.
The aim is to revive Madinah as a centre of Islamic knowledge and a global knowledge and cultural centre. It has been estimated that the project is creating more than 20,000 jobs and accommodation for 150,000 people.
There is also an expectation that $2.66bn (SR10bn) a year will be brought into the region once the project is completed by 2020.
The new city will boast a technological and economic information centre, a campus for medical research and bio-sciences as well as a theme park and hospitality options.
13 - Union Properties (Up 2)
Market cap: $2.12bn 12-month share price: 289.5%
Union Properties is one of a number of Dubai-based developers whose share price has benefitted significantly from the recent turnaround in the company’s fortunes. As a result, it has climbed two places in this year’s rankings as its market capitalisation has almost trebled – to $2.12bn.
The company recently launched three projects at Cityscape Global worth a combined $485mn – including a $300mn, five-tower complex at Motor City known as Vertx. This, alongside a new Green Community at Motor City and an extension of its existing scheme at Dubai Investments Park, are all due to be tendered by the end of the year, with a view to work starting in the first quarter of 2015.
General manager Ahmad Al Marri told Construction Week that Union Properties was shifting its focus towards Motor City as the existing Green Community and Mirdif projects mature.
“We have a combination of different plans between commercial, residential and attractions like theme parks.
“We will start off with the five towers as a high-rise building. The population [in Motor City] is now more than 15,000. So the time now has come to also establish retail, entertainment and hotels.”
14 - Deyaar (Down 1)
Market cap: $1.98bn 12-month share price: 147%
Deyaar is one of the largest developers at Dubai’s Business Bay, but the company expanded prior to the boom taking on international projects in the US, UK, Turkey and across the Middle East.
Since the fallout from the financial crisis, however, it has looked to sell or reduce its efforts in other parts of the world and return the proceeds to invest in its core market of Dubai. Alongside existing residential and office developments, the company announced in March this year that it had allocated up to 1mn ft2 within its current pipeline for the development of hotels and serviced apartment projects.
Since then, it has launched The Atria – a pair of towers in Business Bay, of which half is dedicated to a hotel and serviced apartments, with the other containing around 213 retail units.
In June, the firm sold off a large chunk of land in Texas to pour back into Dubai projects and in July it announced that profits for the first half of the year reached $31.2mn – a 145% increase on the same period in 2013.
More recently, it unveiled the huge $952m Midtown mega project containing a total of 27 buildings, which will be built behind Dubai’s International Media Production Zone, on the edge of Jumeirah Golf Estates.
The 5.5mn ft2 masterplan comprises two hotels on the northern and southern tips, along with 13 separate residential buildings on the east side of the development and 12 buildings clustered into four groups.
15 - Taiba Holding Co (Down 4)
Market cap: $1.88bn 12-month share price: 30.5%
Taiba Holding Co is involved in real estate development as well as maintenance and holiday villas through its subsidiaries.
As one of the companies involved in the redevelopment of Makkah and Madinah, the government has excluded external investment in the company from non-Saudis, despite the fact that it is opening the rest of the market to international investors.
The Kingdom has not extended this policy to construction and development firms involved in the widespread redevelopment of its holy cities.
As part of its portfolio the company has subsidiaries that include Taiba Contracting & Maintenance and Arabian Resorts Company, among others.
16 - Saudi Real Estate (Down 2)
Market cap: $1.56bn 12-month share price: 72.5%
Established by royal decree in 1976, Al Akaria as it’s also known, has been delivering residential, retail and commercial projects for decades.
Claims to fame include building the Middle East’s first ever mall, Al Akaria 1, as well as the first residential gated compound in the Kingdom.
Partially owned by the Saudi government, the company’s HQ is in Riyadh where it employs more than 400 people.
The focus is on real estate development, property management and facility management, portfolio management, land development and land trade.
Its subsidiary, Knowledge Real Estate Company, jointly owned with Knowledge Economic City, is currently delivering villas at the Dar Al Jiwar project to residential customers. Completion of delivery is expected to be concluded by the end of the year.
17 - Arriyadh Development (Down 1)
Market cap: $897.2mn 12-month share price: 22.8%
Arriyadh Development Company develops real estate, installs infrastructure and constructs retail, residential, and office buildings.
Based in Riyadh, it also has a portfolio of commercial premises that include office and residential buildings as well as service facilities such as parking lots.
Many of these are in Qasr Al Hukm where the company manages projects and is constructing public parks and tourist compounds to be sold or leased.
Arriyadh Development announced at the start of the year that it was increasing the company’s capital through the issuing of bonus shares.
It resulted in a third extra capital for the company.
18 - Mazaya Qatar Real Estate (Up 6)
Market cap: $681.7mn 12-month share price: 116%
There is certainly a feeling that things are on the rise for Mazaya Qatar Real Estate and not just in our list.
Having only visited Cityscape for the last five years, the company participated for the first time this year.
It was promoting its Queue Point project in Dubailand, where it is selling apartments with prices starting from $141,500.
Al Mazaya chairman, Rashid Yacob Al Nafisi, said appetite for apartments is very high, “especially in areas in prime locations like Dubailand”.
Company CEO Eng. Ibrahim Al Saqabi also hinted at new projects across the region and into Turkey as well as showcasing Al Mazaya Logistics in Bahrain, which is anticipated to be completed and set for lease by the first quarter of the coming year.
In February, the company also announced its intention to merge with Mackeen Holding – a property investment company with offices in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Sudan and the UK.
At the time the potential deal was announced, Mackeen Holding had assets valued at around $290mn, compared with Mazaya Qatar’s $368mn.
19 - Salhia Real Estate (Down 2)
Market cap: $659.4mn 12-month share price: 5.6%
Salhia Real Estate has been listed on Kuwait Stock Exchange since September, 1984. With a diversified real estate portfolio, the company boasts 10 subsidiaries operating across the US, Kuwait and the UK.
The company’s subsidiaries include, among others, Haddia Holding GMBH and Drawbridge Securities Limited.
Based in Kuwait City the company developed and is now leasing the JW Marriott Hotel-Kuwait, Courtyard Marriott Hotel-Kuwait and Arraya Ball Room-Kuwait. It also has care home operations and invests in real estate and securities portfolios across a variety of states and sectors.
Projects in the UK included the redevelopment of town centres and mixed use city developments.
20 - Tijara & Real Estate Investment
Market cap: $578.6mn 12-month share price: 10%
Incorporated in 1983, Tijara & Real Estate Investment Company began trading on a limited basis, but since then activities have expanded and diversified to include different businesses. There is a focus on compliance with Islamic Sharia’h and the company went public in 2005.
Tijara and Real Estate Investment principally operates in the apartment building operators sector resulting in reported sales of $27.3mn for the year ending December of 2013, an increase of 296.7% on 2012 figures. It also made a net profit of $5.8mn.
Alongside investments in its home market, the company has worked further afield, including the construction of a luxury residential scheme at Divonne Les Bains – a French spa town.
In May of this year Tijara appointed Yasmine Mubarak Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah as chairwoman of the company.
21 - RAK Properties (Up 1)
Market cap: $554.8mn 12-month share price: 92.5%
RAK Properties recently stated it is looking to enter the hospitality sector in 2015 as part of a joint venture in order to introduce new hotel brands to the Northern Emirates.
The company’s focus will remain in the luxury seaside villa segment, but diversification appears to be limited to hospitality for now as RAK Properties is not currently looking to enter the retail segment due to existing supply levels in the area.
While there are no immediate plans to raise capital, it has been suggested there could be a move into the debt market in an effort to take on larger projects.
At Cityscape the company showcased Bermuda Villas, its upscale residential community located in Mina Al Arab, a premium waterfront community in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Moreover, CEO and managing director Mohammed Sultan Al Qadi told Construction Week that he believed the prospects for the emirate are picking up considerably – particularly as property in nearby Dubai continues to increase in price.
“We believe Dubai is taking the lead. There are a lot of projects, worth billions, coming to Dubai. As a result of that, we as other Emirates, have been positively affected,” he said.
“The government is really controlling all the activities and won’t let it go like before.”
He said most of the companies that exhibited at Cityscape were on “solid financial ground” either because they had government backing or had raised money through stockmarkets.
“There are no speculators as before.”
22 - National Real Estate (Down 3)
Market vap: $461.5mn 12-month share price: 155%
National Real Estate Company, or NREC as it is commonly known, is a Kuwaiti property company that has seen its share price escalate considerably over the past 12 months.
Its strengthening balance sheet has also allowed it to refinance $486.7mn worth of loans. Although the magnitude of its debt remains largely unchanged, its structure has altered, with the bulk now repayable over a longer, seven-year term meaning its financing costs are cheaper.
Chairman Jamil Sultan Al-Essa, said the move was “an important part of our continued focus on creating shareholder value”.
He added that it was the company’s intention to be a “MENA-focused real estate company” and that the refinancing would allow the company to pursue regional opportunities.
Subsidiary National Holding Group completed the construction of its projects in Lebanon this year, two office towers in Beirut. Meanwhile, plans for a mall at Reem Island in Abu Dhabi, which had stalled due to a lack of development elsewhere on the island, have recently been revived.
23 - Eshraq Properties (Up 2)
Market cap: $429.1mn 12-month share price: 335.5%
Dealing in real estate development, construction, investment, sales and property management, as well as other related services, Eshraq Properties has seen a dramatic rise in its share price this year.
The company was also one of the 19 added to the MSCI Emerging Market Index when it reclassified the UAE from Frontier to Emerging Markets.
As a developer, Eshraq is part of the Al Reem Island project in Abu Dhabi and is an investor in Nuran Marina in Dubai, which it bought from Emaar.
Last year, the company sold 80% of the land in Marina Rise and its projects in Jumeirah Rise and Gateway Towers are all reportedly going ahead. These had previously been halted during the onset of the financial crisis.
24 - The Commercial Real Estate Co (Down 6)
Market cap: $428mn 12-month share price: 78.9%
The company, which is known as Al Tijaria Real Estate Company in its home market, is rarely short of news and this year has been no different.
One headline was the naming of its residential project in Mahboula in memory of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister. She was PM during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and played a prominent role in supporting its liberation.
“As a token of profound gratitude for her undaunted mettle and unique leadership that led to the liberation of our beloved country Kuwait in 1991 the project will be named Thatcher Complex,” the company said in a statement.
The Commercial Real Estate Co entered into partnerships and investments in England, Turkey and Germany among others and noted net profits of $10.8mn for the first half of the year.
It also established a sole proprietorship company by the name of The Commercial Real Estate Development in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
25 - United Real Estate Co (Down 5)
Market cap: $410mn 12-month share price: no change.
Headquartered in Kuwait, United Real Estate formed in 1973 and was listed in 1984.
The company operates throughout the region and North Africa through its numerous operational subsidiaries and investment.
Among the portfolio are hotels, residential properties, office and retail complexes and mixed-use developments, including the highly-recognisable Kipco Tower in Kuwait City.
In the first half of 2014, the company achieved a net profit of $12.1mn as revenues increased by 11% to reach $79.1mn.
CEO Engineer Mohammed Ahmed Al Saqqaf said this was driven by a rise in contracting and services revenue through bids awarded to subsidiaries in the project management, construction management and facilities management industries.
He added that United Real Estate had also “managed to eradicate any assets in our portfolio without a real intrinsic value”.
A breakdown of its assets reveals that 45% of its portfolio is in retail projects, 21% in hospitality, 15% in residential, 15% is in its land bank and 78% is in commercial offices.