Abu Dhabi's leaning tower begins hunt for international tenants

Capital Gate, the leaning tower of Abu Dhabi, has started its leasing campaign to lure in top quality tenants from across the city.

Capital Gate tower, developed in Abu Dhabi by ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company). Photo courtesy ADNEC
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It is one of Abu Dhabi's most distinctive new properties but prestige will come at a price for tenants wanting to set up shop in the capital's leaning tower.

For prospective tenants in the Capital Gate, the curvaceous tower that leans at an angle of 18 degrees, will pay the highest rents in the Abu Dhabi starting at Dh2,500 (US$680.7) per square metre.

A broad marketing campaign is now beginning to lure in tenants to the 35-storey tower. Bill Lunt, Capital Gate director at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) that built the tower, said the preference is for international companies that can help drive new business to Abu Dhabi's economy.

At yesterday's announced rates, a tenant taking up an entire floor could pay as much as Dh2.6 million a year. Floor sizes range from about 950 to 1050 square metres. Rupert Bowen-Jones, a senior surveyor for the property consultancy CB Richard Ellis, said those were the highest rates in Abu Dhabi.

Mr Lunt said that ADNEC would negotiate different terms with tenants, depending on the length of the lease and what they could bring to the building.

"The main priority is to drive business and focus on the destination of Abu Dhabi," he said. "International companies would add more value because they could drive or introduce new business, but we do look at local companies as well."

Average office rates in Abu Dhabi are about Dh2,000 per square metre, down from a peak of Dh3,800 per square metre in the final three months of 2008, according to Jones Lang Lasalle.

Abu Dhabi is approaching a stage where the major office and residential projects first launched in 2006, 2007 and 2008 are beginning to be delivered into the market. This is also coming at a time of uncertainty in the property sector, with demand for homes still at a low-point and office tenants waiting for rents to fall lower.

About 450,000 square metres of office space are expected to be added to the market this year, and another 1.4m square metres are expected before the end of 2013.