In the past five years, the Cityscape brand has grown to cover half of the world, providing a key point of networking for industry professionals to access new opportunities and bolster emerging markets. The key to property development, according to Donald Trump Jnr, is that “real estate has to be done on the ground and cannot just be done as a computer model”. Cityscape shares this belief.

Cityscape Dubai in 2006 was officially the largest business-to-business real estate event in the world, and 2007 looks to surpass that again by 25%. The event has grown phenomenally since its launch in 2002, last year attracting 32,442 participants. Cityscape has already surpassed MIPIM and Expo Real in terms of size and participation and represents the most diverse platform in the world, with more than 107 countries represented.

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Many claim that this is due to organic growth in the Middle East region particularly, which certainly has seen an exponential curve in construction and economic development. In reality it is more to do with a business model that is all about access to regions, markets and opportunities that were never before focused on in what can only be referred to as the “Old World”.

With more than $1000bn-worth of investments already committed to the UAE alone, Cityscape Abu Dhabi has been launched in the UAE capital to cater for the almost weekly launch of new real estate developments. With an estimated $300bn-worth of real estate projects under way, the most recent announcements throw more light on Abu Dhabi’s long-term development. The strategy taking shape will be built around upmarket tourism, aimed not just at visitors looking for five-star hotels in the sun, but who will see the capital as a key cultural destination. Recent announcements have seen deals struck with the Guggenheim Museum, The British Museum and possibly The Louvre that would bring priceless treasures to an ‘island of culture’ in Abu Dhabi, housed in spectacular museums. To cap it all, Formula 1 racing will come to Abu Dhabi in 2009.

The south-east Asia region, long overlooked by the investment leviathans of Europe and the US, is now back on the agenda after a strong, steady and sustainable growth since the Asian crisis of the late-1990s. Cityscape Asia, with Singapore as its location, is a platform that has moved quickly to provide a focus to a region that is seeing huge changes in its development from an investment perspective, yet at the same time recovering from the tsunami of 2005. Malaysia’s move to position itself as the Islamic finance capital of the world is synchronised with Indonesia’s massive infrastructure investment of more than $25bn to provide the background for further FDI flows into their markets. Public private partnerships are high on the agenda for the Indonesian government, with a strong legal framework to back them up that re-affirms the commitment to investors.

One of the major participants at Cityscape Asia this year is Vietnam, seen by many as the next hot spot in the region. Cityscape will be showcasing Ho Chi Minh City as a location for major investment for further economic development. Ho Chi Minh City, with a population of eight million, contributes more than 20% of Vietnam’s GDP alone and is home to a stock market, 50,000 companies, 35 foreign banks, 12 industrial parks, two software and two high-tech manufacturing zones and the port of Saigon, which handles 40 million metric tonnes of cargo each year.

With Asia beckoning, China, forecast to be the world’s largest economy by 2020, looms large.

Cityscape China in Shanghai aims to provide the network and crucial information to facilitate foreign investment into the fastest-growing economy in the world. With more than 750 new cities, opportunities are available in every sector of the development market. Recent government legislation has encouraged long-term investors by giving clear and concise regulations on private property ownership. Equalisation of profit tax between foreign and local companies has gone further to give all involved a level playing field. Crackdowns on corruption have helped strengthen the government’s focus on long-term stability rather than short-term speculation.

With a coastline of more than 8000 kilometres of potential waterfront development and a booming internal market for retail and tourism, China has yet to show its true potential.

Cityscape as a global brand will bring together the global community of investment, development and architecture all under one roof. Each market where a Cityscape is held is distinct enough to be different, while at the same time sharing a common value in the drive to build a global marketplace that will give access and opportunity to all.

Rohan Marwaha

Group Development Director

Cityscape