x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Change of heart on Cityscape

Emaar Properties and Nakheel reverse their decisions and say they will now attend next month's property event.

A scale model of the Nakheel Harbour & Tower shown during last year's Cityscape. Nakheel did not explain its u-turn in this year's property show.
A scale model of the Nakheel Harbour & Tower shown during last year's Cityscape. Nakheel did not explain its u-turn in this year's property show.

Emaar Properties and Nakheel, two of the country's largest property developers, have both reversed their decisions not to take part in this year's Cityscape, and confirmed their participation in the property show yesterday. Cityscape, which takes place in Dubai early next month, is the emirate's largest exhibition of current and future building projects.

Nakheel, which has been hit hard by the 50 per cent drop in property prices over the past 12 months, said last week it would not take part, but issued a statement yesterday saying it would now participate in the event "following discussions with various industry stakeholders, including partners and the leading event's organisers". It did not explain the U-turn. The developer said its focus remained "on delivering units and services to existing investors and residents" and at Cityscape it would be "exhibiting communal properties on several of its developments that are close to completion".

Emaar, which is close to completing Burj Dubai, the world's tallest building, said: "Emaar will use the participation to explain its growth strategy of expansion by business segments and further explore new geographies, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, the subcontinent and South Asia." Two days earlier, Emaar said it had taken a "strategic decision" not to participate so it could focus on completing its Downtown Burj Dubai project, which includes retail, office and residential properties around the tower.

Cityscape is being held at a time when industry analysts expect property prices to fall even further by the end of the year. "I'm glad they are participating because I think they will underpin the market," said Iseeb Rehman, the managing director at Sherwoods, a property broker and consultancy. "Certainly for the success of Cityscape it is important for them to be there." Mr Rehman said he was "stunned" when he heard the news that the developers had pulled out. "I think they were fearing that they would be dealing with customer complaints rather than showcasing."

Delays in construction, late payments and financial problems have caused a sharp rise in the number of legal disputes in the property sector, where laws and regulations are still in their infancy and largely untested. Bobby Sarkar, the vice president of equity research at Al Mal Capital, said the developers' original decision to stay away from Cityscape was the right one. "They don't really have any new products to showcase at the moment," he said. "There's really not a huge point to be in Cityscape if you're not selling anything new."

Emaar said it would feature "the lifestyle communities that the company is developing in Dubai and in international markets, and highlight its customer-orientated services and flexible ownership solutions". Nakheel, which developed the man-made Palm islands off the coast of Dubai and is the main promoter of a new city in Dubai called The Waterfront, said it was due to finalise the handover on a number of other developments, having recently completed the handover of 33 islands on The World, its other man-made island development off the Dubai coast.

rbundhun@thenational.ae