x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

DPG to restart Dubailand work with new investors

The two-year review of enormous project almost finished after delay from crisis.

Dubai Properties Group (DPG) hopes to finalise a review of the multibillion-dollar Dubailand development and sign up at least four new investors by early next year, the company's chief executive says. 

The masterplan for Dubailand, which was launched in October 2003 and is one of the most complex and ambitious entertainment-based projects planned for Dubai, was placed under review towards the end of 2008 as the financial crisis took hold.

The project involves dozens of developers and hundreds of sub-developers. Large parts of it, including Dubai Sports City and MotorCity, have been completed with residents having moved in. 

But other parts such as Bawadi, a 10km-long hotel strip, and the Universal Studios theme park are still on hold. 

Khalid al Malik, the chief executive of DPG, said the company was in talks with a number of investors to build more feasible, smaller-scale projects to try to attract funding from banks and push the development towards completion.

"It's purely about demand and supply … today it's easier to invest in smaller projects," Mr al Malik said. "Banks are very cautious about lending so if they had to choose a project worth Dh50 million [US$13.6m] or Dh200m, which one would they go for? 

"We do have big projects in Dubailand which are successful, so this will attract more investments. It is a strategy to ensure that Dubailand is continuing and is attracting investors, tourists and so forth."

The developer hopes to have four new investors on board by the first quarter of next year and is in talks with "a pipeline of between five and 20" for future investment, Mr al Malik said. 

He said the projects would be "fresh concepts and ideas" that would meet the requirements of residents. 

Mr al Malik said he hoped last week's news that Tamweel would resume mortgage lending after Dubai Islamic Bank increased its stake in the company would lead to a rise in lending for property projects.

"Investors we speak to want to invest their own money but they also want to see a percentage coming from the bank," he said. "That's the biggest hurdle we face, which is why smaller projects will be easier to manage. 

The Tamweel news was excellent." Large-scale projects including Bawadi and Universal Studios will remain part of the Dubailand scheme but will be built "at the right time". 

"We still have these. People think they've been cancelled. We don't cancel projects, it's just a timing issue," said Mr al Malik.

"It will depend on demand and supply. Dubai wants to attract tourism and we need to have these projects so we will continue reviewing them and attracting investments to help Dubailand grow." 

Dubailand was reported to be worth Dh355 billion at its peak in the middle of 2008. Tatweer, the project's original developer, was merged with Dubai Properties and Sama Dubai to form DPG last year. 

Meanwhile, DPG plans to deliver four projects next year including the second phase of The Villa, a housing project at Dubailand and Remraam.

The company will also complete the Beach Club at Jumeirah Beach Residence, and Bay Avenue, the retail component of its Executive Tower project at Business Bay. 

agiuffrida@thenational.ae