Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi’s biggest listed developer, plans to launch a dozen new projects this year amid the UAE’s property market recovery and will continue to look for acquisitions to boost its portfolio, according to a senior company executive.
The developer will start one new project in Ras Al Khaimah and the rest will be in Abu Dhabi, Jonathan Emery, chief executive of Aldar Development, told The National in an interview on the sidelines of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week on Tuesday.
Last year, Aldar bought a 40,000-square-metre plot on Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah to build its first residential community in the emirate as part of its expansion plans beyond Abu Dhabi.
“We are talking of tens [of] billions [of dirhams] ... [That] will be the total value of projects and they will be launched in different phases,” Mr Emery said.
The UAE property market has continued to recover from the coronavirus pandemic on the back of government initiatives, higher oil prices and other measures to support the economy.
Property transactions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi surged last year amid higher demand from buyers.
The performance of the Dubai property market last year was described as "exceptional" by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, as the value of deals reached a new high of Dh528 billion ($143.7 billion).
The value of transactions was up 76.5 per cent annually, while the number of transactions, at 122,658, rose 44.7 per cent year on year, a Dubai Media Office statement said this week.
Abu Dhabi's property market recorded 4,441 transactions amounting to $5.7 billion in the three months to September, according to a report by the Department of Municipalities and Transport.
“We believe that the market is solid and strong … clearly, it’s been very resilient to the global economic challenges and the fundamentals feel solid,” Mr Emery said.
“However, one can never defy gravity completely … we are watching for all of the early signals, and we are being cautious about the launches and the scale of the projects that we are bringing forward.
“But on the other hand, we are also enormously positive, so we are planning those 12 projects, if the market remains solid, we have others that we can release as well if it continues to grow.”
Aldar, which has developed a number of projects in Abu Dhabi such as Ferrari World and Yas Mall, reported an 18 per cent increase in its third-quarter profit last year on the back of higher revenue and rental income.
Group sales at the end of the third quarter reached Dh9.3 billion, surpassing the previous year’s total group sales by Dh2 billion. Mr Emery did not divulge details about 2022 total sales.
There has been an “exponential increase in numbers of offshore investors wanting to come to Abu Dhabi, which I think is partly about Aldar’s increasing credibility, the government reforms, the work that Abu Dhabi government has been doing in raising the profile and also working on our product and on our pricing for the international market”, he said.
A large number of expatriates have been buying homes, boosting demand for property in the emirate. International buyers include Europeans, a small percentage of Asians and Russians.
“Those have been the big two moves last year and we continue to see that into the New Year already. The launch of The Sustainable City is seeing a lot of international interest,” Mr Emery said.
Aldar started selling homes in the first phase of The Sustainable City – Yas Island project this month.
The project is being carried out in partnership with Dubai-based Diamond Developers and was first announced during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week last year.
The average price of a one-bedroom condominium is Dh892,000, while a three-bedroom townhouse costs Dh3.24 million.
The sales on the project are "going very well", Mr Emery said.
The company will continue to look for new acquisitions to boost its property portfolio.
“We have plans to continue to grow this year as well,” he said. “So we are continuing to deploy capital in opportunities that we see that will enhance our value and fit with our strategy around core assets, where we see the opportunity to increase value.”
Last year, it made a number of acquisitions. Aldar and Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company partnered to acquire Al Maryah Tower in the UAEs capital, in a deal valued at Dh450 million.
It also agreed to buy four prime commercial towers from Mubadala at The Abu Dhabi Global Market, the international financial centre on the capital's Al Maryah Island, in a $1.17 billion deal.
In Ras Al Khaimah, it announced new deals including the acquisition of the DoubleTree Marjan Island, as well as an adjacent beachfront development plot for Dh810 million.
It also bought the Rixos Bab Al Bahr hotel in Ras Al Khaimah in a Dh770 million deal, as well as Al Hamra Mall for $111.6 million.
In July, Egypt's Sixth of October for Development and Investment Company (Sodic), which is backed by Aldar and Abu Dhabi's ADQ, submitted a non-binding offer to fully acquire Cairo-based developer Madinet Nasr Housing and Development.
The potential acquisition will value Egyptian Exchange-listed developer Madinet Nasr at 6.18 billion Egyptian pounds ($328 million), Aldar said in a statement at the time.
“We continue to look at growth in different markets. Egypt was our primary target last year, which we have successfully executed,” Mr Emery said.
“Dubai remains an aspiration of ours and we look at the other GCC markets as well with Saudi Arabia being clearly a huge opportunity.”
Aldar this month unveiled a comprehensive strategy to decarbonise its business as it aims to become a carbon neutral company by the middle of the century in line with the UAE’s net-zero 2050 initiative.