Emaar plans to sell observation decks at Burj Khalifa

The popular tourist spot could earn the company as much as $1bn

FILE PHOTO: The Burj Khalifa is lit up during New Year celebrations in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 1, 2019. REUTERS/ Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo

Emaar Properties is selling the observation decks of the world's tallest skyscraper the Burj Khalifa, potentially raising $1 billion (Dh3.67bn) for Dubai's biggest developer amid a real estate downturn.

Two sources said Emaar had appointed Standard Chartered to advise on the sale of the popular "At The Top" tourist attraction.

Emaar, in which the Dubai government has a minority stake of 29.2 per cent, and Standard Chartered declined to comment.

At more than 828 metres, the Burj Khalifa is twice as tall as New York's Empire State Building and nearly three times the height of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

At The Top is a popular tourist destination in Dubai, which attracted 15.92 million overnight visitors in 2018.

The viewing decks make about Dh600 to Dh700 million a year, a banking source said.

A financial source estimated they could be worth around $1bn.

The sales process began in November.

Dubai is a regional hub for tourism, foreign trade and business services, but has faced a slowing real estate market for most of the decade.

It set up a real estate planning commission in September to regulate projects and avoid competition between semi-government and private companies.

Emaar has been divesting hospitality related assets to finance existing operations and expansion, an industry source and a Dubai banker said.

Emaar hired Standard Chartered earlier this year for the sale of its district cooling business, and last year for the disposal of five hospitality assets, which were sold to Abu Dhabi National Hotels.