The Business Year

Banu Taş

General Manager, Deerfields Townsquare

The mall features 80,000 sqm of relevant retail space for the community, with 180 retailers across five floors. The project has great visibility to the main Dubai highway, with over 500,000 cars passing per week. Access from the highway is very convenient and the parking is designed to allow people to get in and out of the center quickly and efficiently. In terms of size and scale, Deerfields Townsquare is amongst the top 10 in Abu Dhabi, and we expect 12.5 million visitors in our first year of operation. Retail tourism is recognized as one of the main means of increasing the number of visitors to the city in the governments Vision 2030. A key part of this strategy is to develop retail malls with more entertainment offerings. Abu Dhabi’s population is growing, and the Emirate has one of the highest levels of GDP per capita in the world. For retailers, Abu Dhabi is becoming an increasingly attractive location to showcase their brands. As of today, the retail sector in Abu Dhabi is undersupplied and this provides a sizeable opportunity.

Masood Al Awar

CEO, Tasweek

Over the last six months of 2012, for a variety of reasons, there was an influx of liquidity into the market, so it recovered in terms of growth as well as sustainability. We had many opportunities to collect real estate. In 2010, everybody was beginning to feel secure, but there was still a problem in terms of return on investment and financial obligations. We are still in a period of recovery. We are now in a good position, as the Abu Dhabi government announced that it would invest AED330 billion over the next five years, which means we are talking about at least AED60 billion per annum to be spent in a variety of sectors supporting infrastructure, which would include jobs, health, and other sectors. Tasweek is a name that stands for marketing. We wanted to stand out as a marketer of real estate. Our portfolio is worth $250 million and it has a good yield per annum. It is an income-bearing asset, and we want to expand this in Abu Dhabi and beyond.

David Orford

Regional Director UAE, David Orford

The market dropped and we had to work hard over the 2009-2010 period to maintain the position we had built up. Nevertheless, we achieved that and maintained our local staff levels, managing to ride out the storm with a number of new and diverse projects. We have gradually built on this and now have a well-balanced portfolio of projects across our services and sectors. The UAE is a very important part of our global strategy as a business. We have an aspiration to be 50% in the UK and 50% international in three to five years, and the UAE itself we would like to be around 15%-20%, with our Qatar office also contributing a similar level. These two regional offices give us a strong base from which we can enter markets in other parts of the world and expand our portfolio. That is our short-term aspiration. Building on our reputation is the way I believe we are going to increase our growth here. Our client relationships are absolutely key to securing projects and performing well for those clients enhances our reputation immensely. There has also been a growing awareness of Hilson Moran within the market and that has seen clients approaching us.

Samer Tamimi

Vice-President, Abu Dhabi Operations, Hill International

After 2008, there was a shift toward infrastructure and there was less demand for buildings and hospitality projects. Based on Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, we are now focusing on healthcare projects, education, and infrastructure including rail, roads, and utility work. We have not realized any direct impact on the construction industry. Nonetheless, the philosophy of Abu Dhabi has been focusing on increasing the revenues from non-oil and gas sources. Tourism has been identified as one of these areas to generate income too. Abu Dhabi is UAE’s primary gateway to the world, which makes the location convenient. It is very well developed, with established systems that make it suitable as a home base and is an appropriate location to position your core team here to service other countries. There are enormous projects in the pipeline and the prospects are big.

William Neill

Head of Cluttons Abu Dhabi, Cluttons

Cluttons has deep roots in the region and the business is well supported by our professional and consultancy divisions, as well as property management. We moved here in the 1970s and the Dubai office was opened 35 years ago. We entered the market early, before many of our competitors. We are 15—20 years in front of some of our main competitors and have grown an old and diverse client base, which has helped us achieve our position. The bubble was built on speculation, especially in the residential market. Regulating mortgages is one way of preventing this to an extent, as well as regulating developers and purchasers. It is clear that the government is concerned about it happening again, especially now that prices in Dubai are increasing. The areas that are going up are newly built areas in Abu Dhabi such as Raha Beach, Raha Gardens, Saadiyat Island, Al Reem Island and Al Reef. There is currently strong demand in the city for newly built modern developments. A decree was made in 2013 that if you work at or for a government agency or company affiliated to the government, you will have to move to Abu Dhabi. Our residential team now reports that as much as 40% of enquiries in some locations are linked to people moving here from Dubai. This has helped fuel demand.

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