Abu Dhabi // Dar Al-Dhabi Real Estate, a Kuwait-based property developer, is planning to build two 300-metre towers on Reem Island that would be among the tallest structures in Abu Dhabi. The project, called The Wings because the design resembles a falcon's wings, will be located in the Najmat project on the southern part of the island, facing Abu Dhabi. The towers, one residential and one commercial, will be a "gateway to Reem Island", said Alan O'Donnell, the managing director of Pure Real Estate, a firm hired to manage the project's operations, marketing and sales. The Wings will cost about Dh7 billion (US$1.9bn), and include about 6,000 square metres of retail space in a glass atrium at ground level and a waterfront promenade along a marina. The buildings will be the centrepiece of Dar Al-Dhabi's larger Dh12.5bn project, which will have six towers in total and other developments. The project, designed by Raj Patel of Keo International Consultants, is scheduled to be finished in 2011. The tallest structure in Abu Dhabi today is the 185-metre Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (Adia) building on the Corniche. But a new generation of towers will soon eclipse that height, including The Landmark, a 324-metre new headquarters for the Department of Presidential Affairs located right next door. Other tall towers planned for Abu Dhabi include the 382-metre Central Market Residential Tower by Aldar Properties and the 379-metre Sky Tower by Sorouh Real Estate, which will be built on Reem Island. Mr O'Donnell, a former director of equity investment at UBS in Zurich, said The Wings would launch sales of the first phase at Cityscape Dubai next week. And despite the grim economic outlook in the world financial markets, he said the timing would actually boost sales because investors would want to put their money in safer environments like Abu Dhabi. "Now people will be doing a lot more research into the fundamentals of markets," he said. "A lot of investors who were looking at Dubai will be looking at Abu Dhabi instead." Mr O'Donnell said the investment in Abu Dhabi was safer because the city was more geographically restricted, leading to a slower increase of units on to the market. "Foreign companies looking to open a Middle East hub are going to increasingly look at Abu Dhabi," he said. Dar Al-Dhabi had put Dh1.4bn starting capital into The Wings project, Mr O'Donnell said. Construction will also be funded by a combination of sales revenue and loans. Mr O'Donnell said he was not worried about tightened lending from local and international banks because while they would more stringently examine borrowers, they would choose to grant debt to projects with "solid fundamentals". Pure Real Estate, founded in 2005, has been expanding in the past year. Mr O'Donnell said the company's goal was to become a "one-stop shop" for developers, providing them with everything from marketing and research to maintenance and valuations. The company has formed joint ventures with PRP, a valuation company in New Zealand, and Orbit, an architectural design company in Melbourne. "These things are needed by a mature market," Mr O'Donnell said. The next step will be to open an investment division next year, which will provide access to the Abu Dhabi property market for foreign and institutional investors through funds and other financial instruments. "There is a lot of interest in Abu Dhabi right now, especially European funds who are having a lot of difficulty making returns," Mr O'Donnell said. firstname.lastname@example.org
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