Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 10 December 2019

Aldar bullish on Abu Dhabi's property sector as it plans new projects

Company looks to capitalise on demand from freehold ownership law for foreigners to boost sales, a top executive says

Maan Al Awlaqi, executive director of commercial at Aldar Properties expects demand for property to go up in Abu Dhabi. Antonie Robertson/The National
Maan Al Awlaqi, executive director of commercial at Aldar Properties expects demand for property to go up in Abu Dhabi. Antonie Robertson/The National

Aldar Properties is bullish about the real estate sector in Abu Dhabi and is planning to launch new projects to advance growth.

Maan Al Awlaqi, executive director of commercial at Aldar Properties, told The National at the Cityscape Global event last week that "demand and sentiment is extremely high" in the capital following the introduction of a law allowing foreigners to own freehold properties within investment zones. Foreigners were previously only allowed to own properties on a leasehold basis for a maximum 99-year period.

We are getting a lot of interest from people enquiring [about the freehold law]. Sentiment wise, it had a positive impact,” said Mr Al Awlaqi.

He also said the growth of Abu Dhabi economy and a recovery in oil prices will have a positive effect on the capital's property sector.

Brent crude prices jumped to $71 (Dh260.7) per barrel following attacks on facilities operated by Saudi Aramco earlier this month and although they have settled lower at $62 per barrel, they are still trading at a higher level than at the start of the month. Abu Dhabi's gross domestic product, on the other hand, grew 5.7 per cent at constant prices in the first quarter of the year to Dh207 billion, driven by growth in the oil sector, according to the latest report from Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi.

“The property sector, we think is very healthy," said Mr Al Awlaqi. "You can see it with what we’ve launched and you can see it in our land sales of Dh2.4 billion. [There was] pent-up demand, that shows there is liquidity in the market at the right price for the right product. Economic sentiment is good.”

The Abu Dhabi property developer sold land at Alreeman, Alreeman II and Lea, generating sales of Dh2.4bn. Aldar also recently began selling plots at Saadiyat Island – the first residential freehold plots to be offered on the island. It is selling 306 infrastructure-enabled plots, with prices starting from Dh1.6 million for those big enough for four-to-six bedroom houses.

“It’s going well. We can’t disclose [details] right now,” he said about the number of plots sold at Saadiyat.

When asked whether it is going to sell more land projects in the capital, Mr Al Awlaqi said the company would look at demand and trends in the market.

“We did the mid-market [projects] before, then we did the land plots, so we are nimble and dynamic. Whenever we feel there is pent-up demand, based on data, we will go out.”

Aldar has 75 million square metres of land available, with 50 million square metres of this at Alghadeer and the remainder at Yas Island, Saadiyat, Reem Island, Al Raha and the Alreeman areas.

In the second quarter of the year, Aldar reported a 5 per cent year-on-year jump in net profit attributable to shareholders of Dh470.4m. The company revenue in the second quarter also climbed 10 per cent to Dh1.66bn, boosted by higher sales and strong development activity.

In July, Aldar was awarded contracts worth Dh5bn from multiple Abu Dhabi government entities to deliver three projects in the capital as the emirate continues to spend on infrastructure and economic development schemes.

The asset management division of Aldar also acquired full ownership of the Etihad Plaza and Etihad Airways Centre in March.

Updated: September 29, 2019 03:07 PM

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