x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Qatari Diar says Khartoum development will go ahead

Upmarket Qatari Diar property development in Khartoum is going ahead, company says.

Qatari Diar's sprawling mixed-use development being built by the Nile in Khartoum is going ahead as planned, the company says, although analysts believe there remain significant risks for the property market in Sudan.

The project, called Mushaireb, was announced in 2006, with construction work starting in 2009. But as yet work has not started on the five-star hotel or many of the shops and offices.

A representative at the sales office for the Mushaireb project in the Sudan capital said two residential towers had been completed, while two more were under construction.

Moawia Hassan Omer Ahmed, the country manager for Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment in Sudan, said the apartments that were put up for sale had all sold, while more flats would be released for sale in the coming months. He added the project was going ahead as planned.

"The effect of US sanctions has had an impact on foreign investment, but the real estate market is relatively immature and with the secession of the oil-producing South, the north will need to diversify its revenue base into other income-producing investments," said Deepak Jain, the Middle East and North Africa head of strategic consulting at the property company Jones Lang LaSalle. "Expatriate Sudanese also began returning to Sudan after the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement [and that] has helped fuel demand [for property projects]."

But there are huge risks too, analysts say.

Unrest continued, said Mr Jain, who added it was important for the two governments to agree on the terms of oil revenue sharing, and there was a risk that unless this was sorted out, war could break out again. "Mortgage financing is in its infancy, and sanctions have prevented international banking … so this is likely to be a slow process."

The masterplan for the Qatari Diar project shows several buildings spread over more than 206,000 square metres in landscaped settings. This figure includes an additional 58,000 sq metres of land that was acquired for the project last year.

To date most of the site is barren. When it was first announced, the project was expected to cost US$400 million (Dh1.46 billion) to develop. Residents have yet to move into the apartments they have bought.

"We think the current political unrest in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Tunisia is also leading developers to look at countries with significant populations and apart from Saudi Arabia, Sudan is the only country in the immediate vicinity of the GCC with a significant population and land base," said Mr Jain. Prices are believed to have risen by about 20 per cent over the past two to three years, he said. "We are actually seeing increased interest in Khartoum and have currently studies under way with a team being on the ground … to conduct research."

According to Qatari Diar, Khartoum will progress to become "a regional centre of commerce".

 

rbundhun@thenational.ae