Cityscape 2021: Sobha Realty to build new $4bn mega project in Dubai next year

Developer is exploring opportunities in Saudi Arabia and the UK

Visitors at the Sobha Realty stand on the first day of Cityscape Global held at the Dubai Exhibition Centre. The company has a target of $1bn in total sales this year. Pawan Singh/The National
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Dubai developer Sobha Realty plans to build a $4 billion mixed-use project in the emirate as it taps into the continuing recovery in the UAE’s property market.

The project, spanning11 million square feet, will be built next to its current project Sobha Hartland in the MBR City, PNC Menon, founder and chairman of Sobha Realty, told The National in an interview at the Cityscape Global in Dubai.

“We are planning to have a large project close to Sobha Hartland and will be launching it some time in July next year,” Mr Menon said. “This is a big project and may take about six to eight years to complete.”

Sobha Hartland is an 8 million-square-foot project and was first announced in 2014. The master development is being built in phases and is expected to be complete by 2025.

The new project, named Hartland Sanctuary, will be financed through a mix of debt and equity, Mr Menon said. The company will also consider tapping bond markets to raise money to fund the project.

The launch comes as the UAE’s property market continues to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic on the back of government initiatives and the accelerated vaccination programme.

“We didn’t expect this (the market recovery),” Mr Menon said. “There was also pent-up demand because for two years it was slow and the government initiatives really helped the market to improve.”

The UAE government has rolled out a number of new initiatives to support the economy in the last year, including visas for expatriate retirees and remote workers, and the expansion of the 10-year golden visa programme to encourage foreign professionals to settle in the UAE.

The country also overhauled its commercial companies law last year to attract more foreign capital and annulled the requirement for onshore companies to have an Emirati shareholder.

Expo 2020 Dubai and the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, which aim to make the city the world’s best to live in, are also expected to further boost its property market.

“Apart from the market (improvement), Dubai has become one of the top 10 cities to live in,” Mr Menon said. “People who are reasonably well to do, want to live here.”

Sobha has a target of more than $1bn in sales next year and the company is aiming for net sales worth $1bn by the end of 2021, according to Jyotsna Hegde, president of Sobha Realty.

“The bulk of our sales will come from customers in the GCC, India, China, Africa and Russia. A lot of customers from the US, Canada, Germany and France are also keen to buy the property. We are very positive about next year,” she said.

Residential transactions in Dubai hit an eight-year high in the first half of 2021 as demand for bigger homes increased amid the continuing recovery of the property market.

Total transactions in the six months to the end of June surged 69.2 per cent compared with the same period in 2020, according to CBRE Research.

Sobha Realty is also exploring new opportunities in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest economy, as well as in the UK.

“We have plans to start a new residential project in the UK in 2024. Saudi Arabia is also a potential market for us to expand,” Ms Hegde said, without divulging further details.

Updated: November 10, 2021, 5:30 AM