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Show review: Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2016

Paromita Dey presents key highlights from Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2016, where large-scale projects were unveiled to buoy a slow market

HH Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, vice chairman of the executive council of Abu Dhabi, opened Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2016.
HH Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, vice chairman of the executive council of Abu Dhabi, opened Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2016.

According to Cluttons’ recently published Abu Dhabi Spring 2016 Property Market Outlook report, the Emirate’s real estate market is growing cautious with its investments, as is evidenced by a shift in residential values.

In the 12 months to the end of Q1 2016, the value of villas across the UAE capital’s residential submarkets fell by 1.4%, Cluttons said. In the residential rentals sector, landlords are increasingly becoming wary of challenging market conditions, and have begun to explore ways in which to attract and retain tenants.

Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2016 was held amidst this uncertainty in the market, driven by low global oil prices, and is has even infused optimism in the capital’s real estate sector. Large-scale residential project launches by companies such as Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) and Aldar Properties have also buoyed the industry.

One of the UAE’s most sustainable master developments, Masdar City, also unveiled its expansion plans at the exhibition. Masdar’s two new phases will add more than 3,000 residential units to its existing portfolio.

Exemplifying the high level of activity within Abu Dhabi’s real estate sector, the Emirate’s Urban Planning Council (UPC) revealed it has approved 27 projects and masterplans in the last quarter of 2015. Mohamed Al Khadar, executive director for urban development and Estidama sector at UPC, remarked: “The increase in the amount of gross floor area (GFA) approved in 2015 versus 2014 also reflects the long-term demand for real estate across Abu Dhabi.”

Debutants of Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2016 expressed confidence about the UAE’s real estate potential. Developer Eagle Hills unveiled its first Address-branded hotel, to be located in Fujairah, at the show. Another first-timer announcing foreign projects was Manazel Real Estate, which launched a villa project in Jordan.

Developers at the exhibition also stressed on their affordable housing projects. Demand for submarkets comprising affordable homes, such as Hydra Village, has steadily risen during Q1 2016, according to Cluttons’ report.

“There is a gap in the housing market for the low-income bracket,” Carnegy told Construction Week on the sidelines of Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2016.

“The shrinking pool of high-end management level tenants – in the oil and gas sector in particular – has meant rising voids for properties at the higher end of the rental spectrum and increased demand for more affordable options. Based on the climate of continued low oil prices, average residential values are likely to slip by 4% to 5% on an average during 2016.

“We expect that demand for affordable homes will soon outperform the wider market,” Carnegy continued.

Cluttons’ expert concluded developers must be urged to reserve a certain quota of their funds towards affordable housing, and to concentrate on public-private partnerships (PPP) financing options to resolve this situation.

Abu Dhabi UPC approves 27 projects in q4 2015

Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (upc) granted detailed approval to 27 projects and masterplans – including a major retail development – in Q4 2015, it said at Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2016. This brings the total number of UPC’s approvals awarded in 2015 to 101, with a GFA of 1,358ha – 26% more than in 2014.

These approvals were given in line with the objectives of Plan Capital 2030, Plan Al Ain 2030, and Plan Al Gharbia 2030.

In Q4 2015, two approvals were given for projects and master plans located in Al Ain, four for those in Al Gharbia, and 21 in the Abu Dhabi metropolitan area, 11 of which are located on the Emirate’s island, and 10 in the mainland. Three of the urban development projects given the approvals to build in the metropolitan area are located at the Al Reem Island master development.

The first of these is the $1bn (AED3.67bn) Reem Mall, followed by the two-tower residential complex, Najmat Towers, and the twin-tower Shams Meera in the Shams district.

The largest master plan approved by the UPC in Q4 was Al Khrair Emirati Housing project, located in Al Ain city.

Masdar City expansion approved by Abu Dhabi UPC

Abu Dhabi’s Masdar has received approvals for detailed masterplans of Masdar City’s Phases two and five. The master development is one of the most sustainable of its kind in the world.

Phase two of Masdar City, spread across 63.7ha, includes a research and development cluster built around some of Masdar’s existing pilot research projects. It will be served by a residential community comprising 2,000 apartments, a GEMS Education school, restaurants, cafés, and a park.

Phase five, spanning 34.1ha, includes 1,000 low-density villas and townhouses surrounded by recreational amenities and green open spaces.

Around 35% of the planned built-up area of Masdar City will be completed over the next five years. Nearly 30% of this has been committed for the development of private homes, schools, hotels, and office spaces. Masdar City is targeting a 4-Pearl Estidama Community Rating for its projects – a first in the UAE.

The approval of Masdar City’s master plans coincides with its 10-year anniversary, and heralds a phase of expansion works, some of which are already underway within the master development.

Bloom Properties unveils Faya

Abu Dhabi developer bloom properties, a subsidiary of Bloom Holding, unveiled Faya, the fourth phase of its master planned community, Bloom Gardens.

Faya will consist of 132 townhomes, made up of 28 four-unit and four five-unit clusters.

The project, which is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2017, will offer an attractive investment opportunity for potential buyers and investors, with a payment plan linked to construction milestones.

The development will offer the same amenities as Bloom Gardens’ Phases one, two, and three, such as round-the-clock security, parking spaces, walking and running tracks, and a kids’ play area, besides a polyclinic, a nursery, and a community centre.

Remarking on the launch, Sameh Muhtadi, CEO of Bloom Holding, said: “Bloom is delighted to launch Faya in the well-established Bloom Gardens community. The project demonstrates our commitment to meeting the growing demand for quality residential communities with high-end finishes and amenities.

“Faya will be developed to the highest standards in design, architecture and construction, while providing attractive long-term investment returns for the UAE investors.”

Bloom Gardens is a residential community in Abu Dhabi, located minutes away from the Emirate’s Corniche Al Qurm and Khalifa Park.

Abu Dhabi’s TDIC launches largest Saadiyat district

Tourism Development and investment company (TDIC) launched the Saadiyat Lagoons District, the largest development on Saadiyat Island, at Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2016.

Located minutes away from Abu Dhabi city, the Lagoons District will be a premium residential community, expected to house 29,000 residents across more than 4,000 residential units.

The 600ha mixed-use development will feature contemporary townhouses, villas, and apartments that will offer access to neighbourhood shops, food and beverage outlets, children’s play areas, mosques, and leisure facilities, such as an equestrian centre.

Homeowners will also have access to a range of community facilities, including a dedicated retail venue, and access to a neighbourhood lake.

Saadiyat Lagoons District will be developed in phases, with the first one including 820 townhouses set in a gated community. The townhouses will comprise 236 two-bedroom and 584 three-bedroom units in a contemporary style.

The project will be designed to encourage active lifestyles, with walking and cycling paths located throughout the district and horse-riding trails set alongside the area’s mangrove lagoons.

Residents and visitors will enjoy gardens and parks, as well as open spaces and a central lagoon located across 240ha of open space.

Out of the 820 townhouses, only 246 units are available for sale after Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2016.

The district will also include two lifestyle and retail destinations: a town centre, which will overlook a central lagoon and linear park, and a waterfront village, located close to the water’s edge and easily accessible by the district’s various paths.

Remarking on the project, HE Ali Majed Al Mansoori, TDIC’s board chairman, said: “We are pleased to announce the launch of the largest district on Saadiyat.

“Saadiyat Lagoons District is set to be a vibrant destination for both residents and visitors, which offers a lifestyle experience in close proximity to the island’s other districts and their leisure, and cultural offerings.”

Eagle hills enters the UAE

abu dhabi developer Eagle Hills, in partnership with The Address Hotels + Resorts, unveiled The Address Fujairah Resort + Spa, its first project to be developed in the UAE.

Located Fujairah’s Sharm area, The Address Fujairah Resort + Spa is will be sited south of Al Aqah beach and 21km south of Dibba Al Fujairah.

The mixed-use development comprises The Address Fujairah Resort + Spa hotel, and The Address Residences Fujairah Resort + Spa. The latter includes four residential buildings that include 105 two-bedroom units, 60 three-bedroom units, 12 four-bedroom units, and 10 villas, including five beach and five garden villas.

Over 432 parking spaces will also be developed for residents and visitors.

The project is set to serve as Fujairah’s ultimate leisure and lifestyle destination, with a 500m-long promenade, beaches, and a plaza providing diverse culinary options.

Guests and owners will enjoy a range of exclusive five-star amenities at The Address hotel in Fujairah.

Commenting on the launch, Low Ping, CEO of Eagle Hills, said: “This is the first development for Eagle Hills in the UAE, after having launched large-scale projects in Bahrain, Jordan, Serbia, Morocco, and Nigeria.”

Aldar unveils $1.6bn Yas Island villas

abu dhabi developer aldar properties launched the $1.6bn (AED6bn) Yas Acres, a golf and waterfront development, at Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2016. The project will add 1,315 villas to Yas Island.

The residential development is located on the northern shores of Yas Island, and its residents will have access to a golf course, a clubhouse, parks, schools, and waterfront areas.

Prices for Yas Acres’ units start at $790,000 (AED2.9m), and upon completion, the project will be home to 15,000 residents, with special emphasis on community living.

To achieve this, the full length nine-hole golf course and the members’ country club will sit at the heart of the development. This will be accompanied by schools, mosques, community retail spaces, a yacht club, and a marina.

At the centre of Yas Acres – and running the full length of the development along either side of the golf course and onto the northern shores of Yas Island – will be the Royal Oak homes. Royal Oak will comprise four-, five-, and six-bedroom luxury villas offering golf course, park, and sea views.

Remarking on the project at the sidelines of Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2016, Talal Al Dhiyebi, Aldar’s chief development officer, said: “For us, it is about developing the right product at the right location and at the right time.

“Yas Island is more than just the Formula 1 destination; it has much more to offer, such as residential spaces, theme parks, a marina, and the Yas Mall,” Dhiyebi continued, adding Aldar is in the detailed design stage of the project, and has received master planning approval from the Planning Council.

“We will tender enabling works in the second half of 2016,” he adds. “We hope to deliver the first phase of Yas Acres towards the end of 2019.”

Aldar announced three projects on the Yas Island in 2015, including its flagship project, West Yas, and two premium apartment projects overlooking Yas Beach – Mayan and Ansam.

“We have sold the majority of the product that we have launched till date,” Dhiyebi proudly added.

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