x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

UAE property companies switch focus to Jordan

As banks across the GCC rein in lending for construction project, developers have ploughed Dh26bn into Jordan.

As banks across the GCC rein in lending for construction projects, more UAE property companies are heading to Jordan to take advantage of the growth potential there, according to Jamal Hani, the chief executive of Abdali Investment Group. The UAE is one of the largest foreign investors in Jordan, with UAE developers having so far ploughed an estimated Dh26 billion (US$7.08bn) into developments across the country.

"Jordan is a very attractive investment place with favourable regulations for foreign investors," said Mr Hani. "It still has underpriced property compared with the rest of the region, huge potential for growth, lower exposure to a crash compared with the capital markets and, most importantly, an extremely supportive government promoting the development of the property sector." Abdali Investment Group hopes to attract more UAE investors to Amman when it launches Central Market Place, a retail extension to the Abdali New Downtown development, at Cityscape next week.

One project that has received a large injection of UAE cash is the Abdali New Downtown in Amman, a Dh11bn project developed by Jordan-based Abdali. UAE companies including Damac and Tameer have invested more than Dh3.6bn in the development, which covers 384,000 square metres. The construction firm Arabtec is also building a project in the development. It said this week it was eyeing more opportunities beyond the UAE as it expected Dubai's property market to slow because of liquidity shortages.

"Jordan's investment and development scene is undergoing major changes as the government looks to develop all parts of the kingdom and encourage investment from major players," Mr Hani said. Apart from Amman, the Dead Sea, the Aqaba coastline and the second-largest city, Zarqa, are prime locations for UAE developers. In 2006, Emaar Properties, the largest property developer in the UAE by market value, formed The Dead Sea Touristic and Real Estate Investment Company with several Jordanian investors.

The company is developing the Dh1.8bn Samarah Dead Sea Resort, a community project that will include residential, leisure and retail outlets. Tameer is also developing Al Majd, a Dh1.8bn housing project in Zarqa. "Keep in mind that most cities in Jordan are still severely underdeveloped and what we are seeing now taking place in Amman, Aqaba, Zarqa and the Dead Sea is only just the beginning," said Mr Hani.