Arab Real Estate Environment Post Global Economic Downturn



Sponsored by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

The third edition of the Arab Real Estate & Urban Development Conference kicks of under the banner, "Arab Real Estate Environment Post Global Economic Downturn"

Sultan Butti bin Mejren: UAE is advanced internationally in the competitive environment; Dubai the most transparent real estate market

Refat Al Faouri: Arab real estate affected by the repercussions of the crisis, but did not lose its status as the best investment pool

Dr. Nasser Saidi: An opportunity to propose new policy initiatives that can help revive the real estate sector

Participants commend the efforts of Dubai in harnessing the expertise of the Arab countries

Around 400 real estate experts discuss real estate updates and investment opportunities in the Arab world.

Under the auspices of Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai International Financial Centre, the third Edition of Arab Real Estate & Urban Development Conference was inaugurated under the banner "Arab Real Estate Environment Post Global Economic Downturn", and will run for two days from March 16-17.

The Dubai Land Department and its regulatory arm, Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), are organizing the conference in cooperation with the Arab Administrative Development Organization (ARADO) and Dubai International Financial Centre.

Around 30 speakers are participating in the conference representing 18 Arab and foreign countries, namely the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Mauritania, Jordan, Oman, Iraq, Lebanon, Qatar and Kuwait, the Comoros and Ethiopia, together with a host of more than 400 Arab and foreign professionals who will contribute to the enrichment of the conference's activities, which kicked off earlier today in Dubai.

The conference will discuss amongst other issues the latest developments in real estate investment in the Arab world in the wake of global financial crisis and its implications on opportunities and challenges related to the Arab real estate market. These challenges require an innovative response to enhance the real estate industry such as regulation, evaluation and innovative mortgage programs , financing, investment funds, management strategies and implementation of various real estate activities.

HE Sultan Butti bin Mejren, Director General of Dubai Land Department, stated that by hosting and supporting the third edition of the conference, the United Arab Emirates reaffirms its commitment to using its capabilities and expertise to consolidate and strengthen joint Arab action. This vision stems from our belief in the importance of strengthening Arab partnership and knowledge exchange in the field of real estate investment and urban development. On their part, the participants commended the role played by the UAE and Dubai in this regard, describing it as a giant step towards supporting Arab action.

Bin Mejren added that the global crisis did not discourage concerned real estate departments from exploiting the opportunities created by the repercussions of the crisis in order to advance in the global real estate index of competitive environments. Dubai has secured its place on the international real estate map as one of the top real estate destinations in terms of transparency. He added that the agenda of this conference differs in content and panel discussions from previous events. It will shed more light on the issues affecting the real estate industry against the backdrop of the global financial crisis. He noted that the Dubai Land Department, through its active participation in organizing and supporting this event, aims to utilize this platform and its in-depth analyses to examine opportunities in light of challenges that present themselves before the urban development and real estate sector.

Bin Mejren stressed that the well-established characteristics of the Arab real estate sector can indeed establish it as a global leader as the fastest growing and most developed real estate market. Though still in its infancy, it is proving itself as the most capable market in terms of recovering from the impact of the global crisis. The human and natural resources that God has bestowed upon the Arab world can play a significant role in this recovery.

For his part, Dr. Refat Al Faouri, the Director General of the Arab Administrative Development Organization working under the umbrella of the Arab League, expressed his full confidence in the success of the conference during its third edition since one can see the visible aspects of the Arab approach and the unprecedented drive and focus to protect Arab economies, particularly the real estate markets, from the ripple effects of poor performance of international markets. He added that the Arab region has always witnessed these consequences affecting the growth and development of its economies.

He remarked, "The efforts of Dubai Land Department and RERA in the development of regulations and standards governing the real estate industry and regulating relationships between various parties working in this industry, unique events in themselves, allow the emirate of Dubai to share its experiences and expertise with concerned entities in the Arab World. This conference attests to the efforts of the department and its clarity of vision, thus setting an example of how real estate in the Arab world should be managed and overseen.

Dr. Al Faouri noted that Arab real estate markets suffered from the impact of the global financial crisis, but that did not affect its status as the best investment vehicle in the long term in times of economic prosperity and decline. During times of boom, investors benefit by making profits as a result of the increased real estate market activity. While in decline, real estate represents a valuable asset in which to invest cash, as fear will curb investors from investing such cash in other unguaranteed sectors. He reminded all that property gets sick but never dies.

He pointed out that the conference in its third edition has gained particular importance, stemming from the fact that it provides a platform to showcase the reality of Arab real estate environment following the global financial crisis, as well as investment and funding opportunities. He also noted the importance of achieving and sustaining growth in the Arab real estate sector.

For his part, Dr. Nasser Saidi, Chief Economist and Head of External Relations, DIFC Authority said: The real estate sector has been a major contributor to economic growth in the GCC region, especially in the UAE and Dubai. However, the global financial crisis brought an end to the property boom. This event is not only timely but also provides an opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by the sector and propose new policy initiatives that can help revive it. During the event we will be discussing two key intiatives, a mortgage securitisation mechanism and a mortgage insurance system, which aim to restore mortgage financing in Dubai and the UAE, with a potential to extend to other countries in the region.”

The list of participants in the conference represent all industry stakeholders from various Arab countries, including investors, developers, key organizations and government bodies concerned with Arab development in the design and construction of real estate projects.

Conference Agenda

The conference witnessed during its opening day on Wednesday a presentation given by HE Sultan Butti bin Mejren, Director General of Dubai Land Department, entitled "Competitive environment: real estate in Dubai". From his part, Engineer Marwan bin Ghalaita Chief Executive Officer of (RERA), gave a lecture entitled, "The experience of Dubai's Real Estate Regulatory Authority".

Ian Albert, Regional Director in the Middle East of Colliers International delivered a speech titled, "Arab real estate developments", while Blair Hagkull, Chairman of Jones Lang LaSalle in the Middle East and North Africa spoke about real estate investment opportunities in the Arab world.

Also the conference witnessed a panel discussion entitled, "investment strategy in the post financial crisis world", while Ali Al Suwaidi, senior manager of facilities management at Abu Dhabi Ports Company gave a lecture entitled, "Linking strategic facilities management to business strategy".

Then Jennifer Blackwell, consultant in facilities management in Spencer, talked about owners associations and Arab real estate markets. The activities in the first day were concluded with a panel discussion entitled, "investor protection".

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