Emaar and Nakheel to skip Cityscape 2009

Emaar Properties and Nakheel, two of the largest property developers, say they will instead focus on existing projects.

United Arab Emmirates - Abu Dhabi - Oct. 6 - 2008 : A scale model of Meraas Development at Cityscape Dubai at Dubai International exhibition Centre.  ( Jaime Puebla / The National )  *** Local Caption ***  JP 119 - CITYSCAPE.jpgJP 119 - CITYSCAPE.jpgBZ08SE GRPROPERTY 06.jpg
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Emaar Properties and Nakheel, two of the largest UAE property developers, will not be taking part in this year's Cityscape Dubai property trade show, saying they will instead focus on existing projects. Meraas Development, a Dubai Government-backed firm that was the darling of last year's show with its launch of the Dh350 billion (US$95.2bn) Jumeirah Gardens development, also will not take part.

Other developers such as Dubai Properties Group and Deyaar Development will be participating in the event scheduled for October 5-8. Sama Dubai and Tatweer, which, along with Dubai Properties, are in the process of merging with Emaar, will be represented at the Dubai Properties Group stand. With Aldar Properties, Mubadala Development Company and Tamouh Investments taking part, Abu Dhabi developers are expected to be strongly represented.

Emaar in a statement said it had "taken a strategic decision not to participate in Cityscape 2009, but will evaluate our participation in Cityscape 2010 based on our objectives, strategy and announcements next year". The company added that while the show, which runs for four days and is Dubai's biggest annual property showcase, had been valuable in highlighting its projects and international plans in recent years, its focus was now on completing the Downtown Burj Dubai development, a sprawling community project that will include the world's tallest tower, Burj Dubai.

"With the opening of the Dubai Mall and the Dubai Fountain and Burj Dubai scheduled to open this year, Emaar's concentrated efforts are towards making the Downtown Burj Dubai community one of the best developments," the statement said. Nakheel, which has suspended several of its projects in Dubai and has a $3.52bn (Dh12.92bn) debt that comes due in December, is also not participating. The developer of Palm Jumeirah and The World used last year's event to showcase its Nakheel Harbour and Tower development, which was due to include a 1km-tall skyscraper. The project is on hold.

In a statement, the firm said: "After careful consideration, Nakheel has decided it will not participate in Cityscape Dubai 2009." The company said it had decided that "it was more prudent to focus on property handovers on several of its developments that are close to completion". Rohan Marwaha, the managing director of Cityscape, said he was confident that both Nakheel and Emaar would return to the event in 2010. He also confirmed that Meraas Development, which was set up in the middle of last year, would not be attending the event.

About 200 exhibitors, between 25 per cent and 30 per cent fewer than last year, had signed up for this year's show, he said. "There's still a very good spread," Mr Marwaha said. "I don't think there's anything else that gives the opportunity to view the scale and breadth of developments happening in the GCC and Middle East." Cityscape Dubai, which attracted about 56,000 visitors in 2008, is often used to gauge sentiment in the emirate's property sector, which has taken a hit in the past year with property prices falling by up to 50 per cent, a shortage of liquidity and many projects stalled.

Exhibiting at the event does not come cheap, however. At last year's Cityscape Abu Dhabi, the floor space cost $555 (Dh2,038) per square metre to rent, which adds up to more than $250,000 (Dh917,500) for the largest stands at the show. Developers also invest heavily in their scale project models and building graphics. The Cityscape Abu Dhabi event is scheduled for April, and organisers have not yet said which companies will be exhibiting.