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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 August 2018

Dubai’s delayed Falconcity of Wonders to get $2 billion kickstart

The falcon-shaped project has seen only about a tenth of the 5,500 planned homes built since its launch in 2005.
Above, a scaled version of the Falconcity of Wonders featuring the Eiffel Tower, leaning tower of Pisa, Taj Mahal and hanging gardens of Babylon. Armina Ligaya / The National
Above, a scaled version of the Falconcity of Wonders featuring the Eiffel Tower, leaning tower of Pisa, Taj Mahal and hanging gardens of Babylon. Armina Ligaya / The National

The main developer of one of Dubai’s most outlandish real estate projects, the Falconcity of Wonders, says the long-delayed project will gain new life this year with around US$2 billion in new developments.

The falcon-shaped project has seen only about a tenth of the 5,500 planned homes built since its launch in 2005 and although billed to include outsized replicas of The Pyramids and the Taj Mahal, there are as yet no “wonders” on the 42-million square foot plot.

Salem Ahmad Al Moosa Enterprises, the family-owned conglomerate that is spearheading the development, says the project’s troubles have been caused by sub-developers in charge of attractions such as replicas of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower and recreations of downtown areas of the likes of London and New York.

“When we sold these we made it very clear, they had to start construction immediately and they kept on delaying,” Alharith Bin Salem Al Moosa, vice-chairman of Falconcity of Wonders said at a property exhibition in Hong Kong this month where he was publicising the project.

“Deadline was before yesterday, a long time ago. It’s an expensive agreement, there are damages to us if they don’t,” he said.

Mr Al Moosa said Falcon City has since retaken control of more than 10 of these sub-developments which include a mix of residential units, retail, offices and hotels.

The company achieved this via Dubai’s real estate regulations, arbitration or amicable agreement, he said but declined to provide further details or identify the sub-developers, citing confidentiality agreements.

Mr Al Moosa said the overall project could still be completed by 2020 and that his company was in talks with new investors but declined to provide more details on how the $2bn in new developments would be funded.

Gaining new investment could be a tough sell, with Dubai property prices again in decline and transaction numbers also down following a sharp rebound from the crash of 2008-10.

“Sometimes the agreement moves forward, sometimes agreement rolled back, this is normal business procedure. Not every day is a happy day,” said Mr Al Moosa, adding that Dubai’s hosting of the Expo 2020 exhibition will buoy its property sector.

“Whenever anyone says Dubai’s market has an over-supply of residential (property), they have to think twice. We have to start contracts now to meet future demand,” Mr Al Moosa added.

Salem Ahmad Al Moosa Enterprises was founded in 1975. The conglomerate has interests in engineering, real estate and oil services.

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