Aldar eyes launch of five new projects in 2021 amid property market recovery

The company is targeting sales of Dh3.6bn or more in 2021, chief executive of Aldar Development says

Abu Dhabi’s biggest developer Aldar Properties plans to launch five new projects this year as the UAE's property market continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic-driven slowdown.

The planned new projects on Reem, Saadiyat and Yas Islands are a mix of villas, plots and apartments, Jonathan Emery, chief executive of Aldar Development told The National in an interview.

“At the moment we are planning about five new launches this year ... that’s more or less the benchmark number we are aiming at and that will be a range of different price points and products as well,” Mr Emery said.

“We will also be relaunching a couple of projects as well in a fresh way. So lots of new, exciting products coming [to the market] this year.”

Aldar Development is responsible for building out the company's 75 million square metre land bank and oversees the company's Aldar Projects, Aldar Ventures and Aldar Egypt subsidiaries.

Mr Emery did not disclose the value of the planned projects or how much the company is investing in them. He said Aldar is "preparing all these projects and going through the design, procurement and all the research and actual commitment”.

It plans to finance the new developments through a mix of debt and equity, he added.

Earlier this week, the company launched the third phase of its Noya  development on Yas Island containing 189 villas, following the sale of the first and second phase in November 2020 and in April this year, respectively.

The first phase of Noya, valued at Dh940 million ($256m), was sold out within four hours of its launch while all units in the second phase were booked within 48 hours.

Mr Emery said the company aims to equal or surpass 2020 sales of Dh3.6 billion this year.

“We are preparing to continue to meet the demand from our [existing] and new customers ...  [as] the strength in the UAE and Abu Dhabi market will continue this year.”

The UAE's property market, which softened in the wake of a three-year oil price slump that began in 2014 and on oversupply concerns, is showing signs of a revival as end-users look to upgrade to larger spaces amid a rise in remote working and learning due to the pandemic.

Economic support measures and government initiatives, including visas for expatriate retirees, remote workers and the expansion of the 10-year golden visa scheme, have also helped to improve sentiment.

“[The] UAE and Abu Dhabi have [shown] a great resilience, economically and the way they dealt with the health crisis," Mr Emery said.

These measure have boosted investors' confidence and "one of the primary asset classes" they are choosing to invest is the real estate, he added.

The market in 2021 "is going to be better than last year and certainly for Abu Dhabi and Aldar", he said.

"I think this is a very positive year for investors, hopefully, an opportunity for customers, whether they are investors or whether they are looking to secure a new home for their families ... 2021 looks like [a] win-win.”

Average villa sales prices in Abu Dhabi grew 1 per cent on quarterly basis at the end of the first quarter in 2021, while apartment sales prices remained unchanged, according to the latest report from Asteco.

The government’s focus on “growth industries, economic development and attracting talent through various visa programmes” is also helping the property market to bounce back, Mr Emery added.

Aldar Properties is still keen to expand its footprint to Egypt, the Arab world's third-biggest economy. Earlier this year, Aldar said it is looking to buy a majority stake in Egypt's Sixth of October for Development and Investment Company (Sodic).

It expects to have more clarity on the Sodic deal by the end of the second quarter, he said.

“We hope to have Egyptian business [established] by the end of 2021 whether we are able to offer Aldar products in Egypt by 2021, that’s undecided and will be determined by the timing of our entry into the market.”

Aldar also aims to expand to Saudi Arabia, which is "obviously an attractive market and something we continue to review", Mr Emery, said.