About a third of Emaar's property portfolio is outside the UAE, with Egypt representing about 15 per cent of the company's book value. Stephen Lock / The National
About a third of Emaar's property portfolio is outside the UAE, with Egypt representing about 15 per cent of the company's book value. Stephen Lock / The National

Dubai selling the American dream



From a small kiosk in the Dubai Mall the property agent Hamptons International is pitching apartments in a luxury tower with scenic views. It is being built by Emaar, the Dubai developer.

The apartments, however, are in Beverly Hills, California.

Emaar and other Dubai home developers have been aggressively working to diversify their portfolios in recent years, in the wake of the downturn in the emirate.

The companies are casting a wide net, trying to tap into markets with more activity than Dubai. Deyaar, which is best known for being involved in developments in the Dubai Marina and Business Bay, now has projects in Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Turkey and the US. Damac Properties is working on projects in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon.

Emaar's goal is to "grow and at the same time limit concentration risk to the Dubai real estate market", the company said in a presentation to investors in November.

About a third of Emaar's property portfolio is now outside the UAE, it was revealed at the presentation.

"They've exported the model," said Chet Riley, an analyst with Nomura Securities. "A lot of their revenue this year will come from the international market."

Emaar's biggest expansion has been in Egypt, which represents about 15 per cent of the book value of the company. But it also expects to sell homes this year in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and India.

The company's assets include a total of 240 million square metres of land in India, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan.

The collection of geographically dispersed assets gives Emaar the opportunity for spin-offs, and ultimately make the portfolio "a little more risk-proof", Mr Riley said.

Nowhere is Emaar's strategy more apparent than in the faux marble kiosk in Dubai Mall, which features a video screen offering units in a Californian development called Beverly West. Hamptons International's Middle East unit, which is operating the kiosk, is owned by Emaar.

Beverly West is Emaar's first project in the US, a 21-storey building in Beverly Hills, one of the most stylish neighbourhoods in Los Angeles, famous for Rodeo Drive and movie stars. The project offers 35 apartments ranging from 1,770 to 8,215 square feet. Prices start at US$2.5 million (Dh9.1m).

"This is a good time to buy in America; the economy is down," a kiosk attendant tells a visitor as shoppers browse the nearby Armani and Louis Vuitton stores.

California has suffered some of the biggest price drops in the US, with some neighbourhoods down 50 per cent or more from peak years. Even in Beverly Hills prices are 30 per cent below levels of three years ago, agents say.

"The response to Beverly West residences by visitors to the kiosk has been extremely positive," a spokesman for Hamptons International said. "The residences have the unique appeal as a holiday or business home given its superior location advantage and highest standard of luxury."

Vacancy rates are high for new Beverly Hills towers, agents report. The enclave is known for its sprawling mansions, not luxury condominiums. But Beverly West is refusing to drop prices.

"We are going to hold steady," Bill Simpson, Emaar's director of sales, told The Hollywood Reporter.

On a Wednesday afternoon, Dubai Mall shoppers were not paying much attention to the Beverly West kiosk but the attendant said the company had made several sales in the past month, primarily to investors. "A lot of GCC nationals live in Beverly Hills," the attendant added.

Construction on Beverly West is scheduled for completion by the end of this month.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

Museum of the Future in numbers
  • 78 metres is the height of the museum
  • 30,000 square metres is its total area
  • 17,000 square metres is the length of the stainless steel facade
  • 14 kilometres is the length of LED lights used on the facade
  • 1,024 individual pieces make up the exterior 
  • 7 floors in all, with one for administrative offices
  • 2,400 diagonally intersecting steel members frame the torus shape
  • 100 species of trees and plants dot the gardens
  • Dh145 is the price of a ticket
RIDE ON

Director: Larry Yang

Stars: Jackie Chan, Liu Haocun, Kevin Guo

Rating: 2/5

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September


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