Whether it is the sheer scale of the iconic projects or the fact that we are in the midst of one of the most impressive property booms in modern history, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – and Dubai in particular – continues to make headlines worldwide.
But while visitors marvel at the scale of construction activity taking place, throughout the region fresh vigour is being brought to the property sector. New institutions, standards and regulations are being established – all designed to ensure that standards are high and that corporate governance levels provide confidence for both buyers and investors.
One thing is certain, the Middle East is no longer just about oil. Strong and sustainable diversification of real GDP is the name of the game. Dubai, the UAE, the Arabian Gulf and the wider Middle East are all attracting attention as global investors seek refuge from turbulent international markets.
The growth is driven by increased government spending, substantial private sector investment and projects boosting the financial sector. All of which is driving improvements in the regulatory and corporate governance landscape.
The region’s ability so far to ride out the full strength of the global economic storm strengthens its appeal. Banks have emerged from the US subprime crisis virtually unscathed and regional corporates continue to show strong profits. Inflation, while a growing concern worldwide, is not adversely affecting regional companies with strong fundamentals. Interest rates pegged to the dollar remain low, helping to underwrite continued growth potential.
Cityscape Dubai 2008, now in its seventh year and the largest business-to-business real estate investment and development event in the world, has been part of that strong growth and diversification of regional economies.
Cityscape Dubai attracts regional and international investors, property developers, governmental and development authorities, architects, designers, consultants and professionals involved in all aspects of the property industry. It provides an annual forum that celebrates the best in real estate, architecture, urban planning and design from around the world.
Cityscape Dubai 2007 set new records by welcoming 51,855 professionals from 136 countries. A total of 849 exhibitors showcased their projects and services on 796,529 square feet of exhibition space. Cityscape Dubai 2008 will substantially top this and we expect more than 60,000 participants from more than 150 countries.
While Cityscape Dubai is undoubtedly the flagship event, the Cityscape brand has achieved international recognition and success. This is partly due to a key strength – access to some of the wealthiest and most liquid investors in the world. It is also one of the strengths that led to the introduction of a Cityscape Abu Dhabi in the UAE capital. It was a huge success with more than 50,000 delegates, swiftly followed by a second Cityscape China event in Shanghai.
The international reach of Cityscape was taken to a new level in September with the inaugural Cityscape USA event in New York. Cityscape Latin America will follow hot on the heels of Dubai with a show in Sao Paolo in November and the second outing for Cityscape India in Mumbai in December. But the growth of Cityscape does not stop there. We will be announcing new shows next year in Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Russia.
We, the Cityscape team, intend to leave no stone unturned in showcasing emerging real estate market opportunities to an international audience.
Rohan Marwaha is the group development director of Cityscape.