x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Al Maabar largely untouched by unrest

Al Maabar says it is planning to sign on an Iraqi reconstruction project in Baghdad more than two years after announcing plans to enter the market.

Al Maabar, the overseas development arm of Abu Dhabi's biggest property companies, has been largely unhurt by the popular uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, its chief executive says.

Only a plan to co-invest in the US$750 million (Dh2.75 billion) Al Waha project, a mixed-use group of towers, in Tripoli is in doubt, said Yousef al Nowais, the managing director of Al Maabar.

But the company paid nothing for the land or building contracts. It had paid only architectural and engineering consultancies in preparation for construction, which had been expected to start this year, he said.

Al Waha was a joint venture with the Libyan Investment and Development Company.

"Libya is a good country with real demand, so we are still committed to looking at it," Mr al Nowais said. "We are looking for long-term, sustainable investments."

The company was also close to signing a final deal with the government of Iraq on developing a mixed-use project on 1,200 hectares in Baghdad, he said.

The development was announced in 2008 as a $10bn project, but Mr al Nowais said it could be worth even more over the years. Iraq will share in the profit, but Al Maabar will have to raise the financing to build the project, which is to combine residential and commercial elements.

"We hope to sign in a few months," Mr al Nowais said. "Very soon, you will see Iraq coming up in a big way. This is an important project for us.

"I think commercially it will give a good return on investment but it is important for Abu Dhabi politically. The UAE has done a lot for Iraq. It would like to see stability in the region."

Al Maabar is owned by Mubadala Development, Sorouh Real Estate, Aldar Properties, Reem Investments, Reem International and Al Qudra Holding.

bhope@thenational.ae