Abu Dhabi to be boosted with 22,000 new school places as part of Reem Island masterplan

Some 11 new private schools catering for 22,000 students have been earmarked for Al Reem Island under a new master plan.

The schools are part of several new facilities revealed as part of a new Integrated Concept Master Plan (ICMP) approved by Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) which was submitted by Bunya – a vehicle responsible for the island’s infrastructure owned by master developers Tamouh, Aldar Properties and Reem Investments.

Other new facilities include three new private hospitals, nine mosques, 500,000 square metres of parks and open spaces and 710,000 sq m of waterfront promenades and beaches. The master plan envisages that the island will eventually be home to around 210,000 residents, contain 1 million sq m of office space, more than 850,000 sq m of retail and almost 10,000 new hotel rooms. It is expected that about 20 per cent of the homes built on the island will be designated for affordable housing.

New bicycle routes will also be built around the island, which will be linked both to Abu Dhabi Island and Al Maryah Island by a series of eight bridges. One bridge will also link to Umm Yifenah Island. It is expected that the bridges will be in place by 2017.

The UPC’s executive director for urban development and Estidama, Mohamed Al Khadar, told a press conference that it had worked closely with each of the island’s master developers on the new master plan.

“We’re very excited about what this means for the future of Abu Dhabi,” he said. “Not only will the growth of Al Reem Island, one of the key areas of expansion for Abu Dhabi, be carefully managed, we are also ensuring that all future developments meet our Complete Sustainable Communities directives, to support the creation of more comfortable, liveable and sustainable communities on the Island; this is central to our mandate.”

About 60 per cent of the land on Al Reem Island is currently under the control of Tamouh, while Aldar Properties and Reem Investments hold a further 20 per cent each.

The developers now need to work up their own detailed plans to submit to the UPC before moving forwards with new schemes.

Currently, Al Reem Island has a population of around 20,000 residents and 15 per cent of its eventual built-up area of 20m sq m has either been built or is under construction.

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Abu Dhabi to be boosted with 22,000 new school places as part of Reem Island master plan

Some 11 new private schools catering for 22,000 students have been earmarked for Al Reem Island under a new master plan.

The schools are part of several new facilities revealed as part of a new Integrated Concept Master Plan (ICMP) approved by Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) which was submitted by Bunya – a vehicle responsible for the island’s infrastructure owned by master developers Tamouh, Aldar Properties and Reem Investments.

Other new facilities include three new private hospitals, nine mosques, 500,000 square metres of parks and open spaces and 710,000 sq m of waterfront promenades and beaches. The master plan envisages that the island will eventually be home to around 210,000 residents, contain 1 million sq m of office space, more than 850,000 sq m of retail and almost 10,000 new hotel rooms. It is expected that about 20 per cent of the homes built on the island will be designated for affordable housing.

New bicycle routes will also be built around the island, which will be linked both to Abu Dhabi Island and Al Maryah Island by a series of eight bridges. One bridge will also link to Umm Yifenah Island. It is expected that the bridges will be in place by 2017.

The UPC’s executive director for urban development and Estidama, Mohamed Al Khadar, told a press conference that it had worked closely with each of the island’s master developers on the new master plan.

“We’re very excited about what this means for the future of Abu Dhabi,” he said. “Not only will the growth of Al Reem Island, one of the key areas of expansion for Abu Dhabi, be carefully managed, we are also ensuring that all future developments meet our Complete Sustainable Communities directives, to support the creation of more comfortable, liveable and sustainable communities on the Island; this is central to our mandate.”

About 60 per cent of the land on Al Reem Island is currently under the control of Tamouh, while Aldar Properties and Reem Investments hold a further 20 per cent each.

The developers now need to work up their own detailed plans to submit to the UPC before moving forwards with new schemes.

Currently, Al Reem Island has a population of around 20,000 residents and 15 per cent of its eventual built-up area of 20m sq m has either been built or is under construction.

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Abu Dhabi to be boosted with 22,000 new school places as part of Reem Island master plan

Some 11 new private schools catering for 22,000 students have been earmarked for Al Reem Island under a new master plan.

The schools are part of several new facilities revealed as part of a new Integrated Concept Master Plan (ICMP) approved by Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) which was submitted by Bunya – a vehicle responsible for the island’s infrastructure owned by master developers Tamouh, Aldar Properties and Reem Investments.

Other new facilities include three new private hospitals, nine mosques, 500,000 square metres of parks and open spaces and 710,000 sq m of waterfront promenades and beaches. The master plan envisages that the island will eventually be home to around 210,000 residents, contain 1 million sq m of office space, more than 850,000 sq m of retail and almost 10,000 new hotel rooms. It is expected that about 20 per cent of the homes built on the island will be designated for affordable housing.

New bicycle routes will also be built around the island, which will be linked both to Abu Dhabi Island and Al Maryah Island by a series of eight bridges. One bridge will also link to Umm Yifenah Island. It is expected that the bridges will be in place by 2017.

The UPC’s executive director for urban development and Estidama, Mohamed Al Khadar, told a press conference that it had worked closely with each of the island’s master developers on the new master plan.

“We’re very excited about what this means for the future of Abu Dhabi,” he said. “Not only will the growth of Al Reem Island, one of the key areas of expansion for Abu Dhabi, be carefully managed, we are also ensuring that all future developments meet our Complete Sustainable Communities directives, to support the creation of more comfortable, liveable and sustainable communities on the Island; this is central to our mandate.”

Fifty seven per cent of the land on Al Reem Island is currently under the control of Tamouh, while Aldar Properties and Reem Investments hold a further 20 per cent each.

The developers now need to work up their own detailed plans to submit to the UPC before moving forwards with new schemes.

Currently, Al Reem Island has a population of around 20,000 residents and 15 per cent of its eventual built-up area of 20m sq m has either been built or is under construction.

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Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island to be home to 210,000 residents in new master plan

Reem Island could eventually be home to up to 10,000 hotel rooms, 210,000 residents and thousands of office workers.

A new master plan for the 8.5 million square metre island was unveiled by Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council (UPC) yesterday that sets out development limits for the island.

It states that an expected 1.4 million square metres of office space, 850,000 square metres of retail and lots of community facilities, including three new hospitals, will be built.

The plan has been created by the island’s three master developers – Tamouh, Reem Investments and Aldar Properties — which is, in turn, approved by the UPC.

Already, 15 per cent of the buildings covering 20 million square metres at Reem Island are either built or under way, and there are 20,000 residents.

Tamouh, which is the biggest developer on the island, controlling 57 per cent of the land, has completed 3,500 residential units at its 14-tower Marina Square project.

“As of today, more than 95 per cent of them are occupied,” said managing director Joe Ong, adding that the community should eventually house 10,000 people. Elsewhere on Reem Island, Tamouh expects to deliver 4,500 new homes over the next four years at the City of Lights project, where seven of a total of 17 towers are being built. The first, the 56-storey LX Tower office building, has recently been handed over.

“Probably by the end of the year, two more blocks will be delivered. Our sub developer, Hydra Properties, will be delivering three more blocks. So we are talking about five more blocks within a year,” he said, adding that these would comprise 2,000 homes.

Aldar Properties, which controls about 20 per cent of the land, has already built The Gate Towers and the Sun and Sky Towers at Shams Abu Dhabi on the island. When its new 408-unit Meera Shams Abu Dhabi and schemes by sub-developers are added, it has about 3,500 units either completed or under construction.

Reem Investments, which also owns about one fifth of the land, only started on its first project – to build 42 villas – last year.

However, the company’s vice president of strategic development, Saeed Al Yabhouni, said that its strategy had changed over the past 12 months.

Initially, it planned to just develop infrastructure and sell the plots to third parties, but it started developing its own land last year.

“There are some other projects coming into the pipeline,” said Mr Al Yabhouni.

“We are going to build another project, which is mainly residential and retail. It will be hopefully by the end of next year or the first quarter of next year. We are now on detailed design. It will be apartments – a tower.”

An initial master plan was created for the island ten years ago, when a total investment of over $30bn was envisaged.

The UPC’s executive director for urban development and Estidama, Mohamed Al Khadar, said the new plan involves much more collaboration between the parties.

“We are very excited about what this means for the future of Abu Dhabi,” he said.

The three developers now have to submit their own detailed plans to the UPC for approval. Mr Ong said that Tamouh’s, which is being worked up by Arup, could be ready by August.

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Damac enlists property broker 5i5j to ‘sell Dubai’ to the Chinese

One of Dubai’s biggest real estate developers is turning to an army of Chinese real estate agents to sell its residential units.

Damac Properties has signed an exclusive deal with 5i5j, the third-largest property broker in China, to market its pipeline of 37,000 properties to the Chinese.

“They have 30,000 sales people. They sell a unit every four minutes,” said Niall McLoughlin, Damac’s senior vice-president.

“We have 22 of their senior people here. They are being inducted into Dubai and Damac on a three-day programme. They will go back to China and sell Dubai.”

Ziad El Chaar, Damac’s managing director, signed the agreement with 5i5j during Dubai Week in China last month.

Mr McLoughlin said that interest from Chinese buyers in Dubai’s property market had increased for a number of reasons. The number of Chinese visitors to the city is on the rise – up by 25 per cent last year to 285,000. There are about 200,000 Chinese residing in the UAE.

Mr McLoughlin also said there was a pilot programme in five Chinese cities that allowed individuals to repatriate funds outside of China to purchase stocks, bonds and real estate.

A report published by Cushman and Wakefield in October last year stated that there has been a “rapid growth of Chinese outbound real estate investment”, with Chinese investors buying up everything from Manhattan office buildings to Singapore malls. It said that investment in the period from 2008 to the middle of last year had grown more than 200-fold to US$33.7 billion. Investors purchased $5.1bn worth of property in the first half of last year. State-owned enterprises were responsible for about half of all overseas property investments.

One state-backed company that has invested in Dubai is China State Construction Engineering Corporation. It has taken a minority stake in Skai Holdings’ $1bn Palm Viceroy project and in its Suites in the Skai project being built in the Jumeirah Village Circle neighbourhood.

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Dubai developer Limitless awards Arco Dh285 million contract for Downtown Jebel Ali infrastructure

Real estate master developer Limitless has awarded a Dh285 million contract to Arco General Contracting for infrastructure work at its Downtown Jebel Ali mixed-use project in Dubai.

The developer, which is owned by Dubai’s government, has appointed Arco to carry out the work, including all new roads, sewerage, utilities and lighting.

Work will start immediately in all four zones of the project. Upon completion by the end of 2017, the property plots will be handed to third-party developers.

Limitless sought bids for the infrastructure work in January this year.

Downtown Jebel Ali is an 11-kilometre area along Sheikh Zayed Road, and has more than 300 development plots. They cover 200 hectares of land between Jebel Ali Free Zone and Techno Park. These have been earmarked for use as offices, apartments, hotels and retail outlets.

The project was initially launched in November 2006. By May 2007, 70 per cent of the land had been sold.

However, the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 left Limitless with a huge debt burden and many of its ambitious projects, including the 75-kilometre Arabian Canal project, were scrapped.

In 2012, the developer managed to complete work on The Galleries, an office-led project with retail units in the first zone of Downtown Jebel Ali.

Last September, it appointed Dar Al Handasah Consultants to design the remaining infrastructure.

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Damac to hand over first Akoya villas in Dubai this year

The first villas at the US$6 billion Akoya By Damac development will be delivered by the end of the year, says a senior Damac executive.

The progress on site has made Damac Properties the “busiest developer in Dubai” and the handovers to the buyers will continue until 2020, according to Niall McLoughlin, the firm’s senior vice president.

The Dubai-based developer bought a 42 million square feet plot of land near Arabian Ranches in July 2013.

Within 20 months it secured all the necessary permits, agreed 24 of the 26 main contract packages, and commenced work on 2,400 of the 2,600 villas.

Damac has completed construction of the structures for 1,100 villas, and about 95 per cent of the site’s golf course – designed by Gil Hanse and operated by Trump International – is complete.

About a quarter of the golf course’s clubhouse has also been completed even though the contract to build it was only awarded by Seidco General Contracting three months ago.

Work on six out of 18 clusters of apartment buildings – with 150 homes in each cluster – has been completed. Construction has started on 11 and contracts for the remaining seven are set to be awarded next month.

A substation feeding 75 per cent of the project has been completed and handed over to Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. It is expected to be commissioned next month.

Currently, there are around 5,000-6,000 workers on site, but Mr McLoughlin said that this could increase to 30,000-40,000 as more of the clusters of villas and apartments reach fit-out phase.

“We could have 250 contractors on site at any one time,” he said. “There’s 42 million sq ft — and this is our baby one. Akoya Oxygen is bigger.”

He declined to give sales figures at the development, but said that the work done so far is an indication of its popularity as a product.

“We’re not going to do this much if a, we’re not confident of getting people here, but b, that the people who have already purchased continue to pay.

“People are buying and if the market is in turmoil, [they] don’t continue their commitments. We have seen the sales momentum continue in Dubai. In the first three months of this year we recorded Dh2.8bn in sales.”

In its first quarter Dubai market report, the consultancy JLL said that 730 new residential units were delivered during the first three months of 2015 but it expected 22,000 to be handed over by the end of the year.

“However, we remain cautious of the delivery of some projects within the specified time frame,” JLL added.

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Dubai was one of the worst-performing housing markets in the first quarter of 2015, according to new research.

Knight Frank’s Global House Prices Index scored the city 53rd out of 56 locations monitored – one place lower than Greece but higher than China, Cyprus and Ukraine.

Property prices in the emirate fell by 6.1 per cent over a 12-month period, according to the firm, and were 3.7 per cent lower than the previous quarter.

The ongoing dispute in Ukraine meant that it was the worst performing, with house prices dropping by 15.5 per cent over a 12-month period and by 4.5 per cent on the previous quarter.

Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2015

Overall, the index report a 0.3 per cent increase in global house prices during the 12-month period – the weakest annual growth recorded for three years.

In regional terms, the Middle East was the second-worst performer, with house prices dropping across the region by 0.9 per cent. Australasia and Latin America were the two regions with the biggest price rises – increasing by 8.2 per cent and 5.1 per cent respectively.

A survey published by Phidor Research last week indicated that house prices in Dubai are continuing to fall. Its report for the six weeks since the end of March stated that apartment sale prices dropped by a further 1.5 per cent and that gross rents fell by around 2.4 per cent.

It also warned that if all of the projects that have already been announced are built, the market could suffer from an oversupply of 7 per cent over the next five years – assuming GDP growth of 3.4 per cent and demand for residential homes of 4.6 per cent.

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Boeing has delivered its first 787 Dreamliner with parts produced in the UAE by Strata Manufacturing.

Strata, which is wholly owned by Mubadala, manufactured vertical fin ribs for the Dreamliner delivered to Etihad Airways.

Strata has been producing advanced composite components for Boeing’s 777 and 787 models. Based in a purpose-built, 21,600 square metre factory at the Nibras Al Ain Aerospace Park in Al Ain since 2010, the company is also a major supplier to Airbus.

“Having more skilled, capable suppliers of advanced aerospace composite parts is crucial to meeting market demand in the future,” said Kent Fisher, a vice president at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

“Strata’s production of 787 composites for Boeing is a significant achievement in our effort to continue building a supply chain for our products.”

Badr Al Olama, Strata’s chief executive, said the delivery of aircraft parts that were “made in the UAE, for the UAE” was a “major accomplishment for Abu Dhabi’s aerospace industry”.

Boeing and Mubadala have signed a number of agreements over the past six years, including a deal in 2013 that gives Mubadala the opportunity to supply up to US$2.5 billion of parts for commercial aircraft.

Mubadala has developed similar partnerships with Airbus and Rolls-Royce in an attempt to boost its share of an aerospace market that is growing rapidly.

Boeing last year said it was expecting nearly 37,000 new aircraft to be ordered over the next 20 years with an anticipated value of $5.2 trillion.

Separately, Boeing and Tawazun Precision Industries broke ground this week on a new aerospace surface treatment facility for metallic parts in Abu Dhabi.

The facility, the first in the Arabian Gulf, will start operation next year.

“The project will create high-value jobs in the UAE and give Tawazun the opportunity to produce complex metallic assemblies for Boeing, its suppliers and other aerospace original equipment manufacturers around the world,” said the two companies.

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Dubai is set to strengthen its position as the most sought-after market for office space in the Middle East, new research shows.

The UAE, and Dubai in particular, had been a key investment target for international investors because of its “safe haven” status in a volatile region, said global real estate services firm JLL in its inaugural annual occupier sentiment survey for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena).

Over the last four years, Dubai has had a net absorption rate in its central business district of about 112,000 square metres a year. In other words, it has let more space than has come on to the market each year.

“The results of our survey reflect that Dubai has solidified its place as the preferred business and financial centre in the Mena region,” said Dana Williamson, JLL’s head of agency for Mena.

The key drivers include the anticipated annual GDP growth in the UAE of 3 per cent between 2015 and 2018, population growth of 2 per cent, and a labour force increase of 2 per cent.

The multinational companies that JLL surveyed said they planned to increase their workforce in the country by between 5 per cent and 20 per cent a year over the next three to five years.

Sean McCauley, director of agency at property consultancy Asteco, said demand from multinational firms for new office space had increased “particularly over the last two quarters”.

He said: “These tend to be multiple-floor transactions. Last year, demand for these types of deals was more scarce.”

These major companies also want to occupy buildings with a single landlord, as opposed to strata-owned space, because such buildings are often better maintained and negotiations to renew leases are easier.

Mr McCauley said the UAE’s growing economy was also fuelling demand at the low end of the Dubai market, with more individuals deciding to “push the green button to start their own business” and rent small units. This has piqued the interest of serviced office providers.

“What they are telling us is that the market is exceptionally strong for serviced office space,” said Mr McCauley, explaining that they are less capital-intensive for start-ups compared to furnishing their office.

Despite the rise in demand, price sensitivity remains. When companies are presented with two to three similar options with a price difference of between Dh5 and Dh10 per square foot, they will typically opt for the cheapest, according to Mr McCauley. As a result, landlords are finding it difficult to increase rents.

“There is still an oversupply of space,” he said. “The market has been good, but only up to a point.”

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