Business Bay watch

12 May 2006

Yet more eye-catching towers are being built in Dubai, this time along the extended creek. 'You are going to hear a lot about Business Bay this year,' promises Hashim al-Dabal, CEO of project develoepr Dubai Properties (DP). Two years on from its initial launch, the $20,000 million project is taking shape.

With 150 waterfront towers planned, Business Bay will add yet another landmark to the Dubai skyline. Infrastructure work is progressing on the 6 million-square-metre site and construction has started on the towers. They are being built on the banks of the extended creek, which will run for 11.4 kilometres from Ras al-Khor around the Burj Dubai development, across Sheikh Zayed highway, through Safa park and back into the Gulf.

The project is based on the winning formula employed by Emaar Properties and Nakheel at Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lake towers. DP will create an artificial waterway, sell individual plots to third-party investors, and critically develop infrastructure.

The project was conceived on the basis that Dubai would face a chronic shortage of office space in the next few years. Business Bay has positioned itself as an address capable of attracting local and multinational companies and sales to date speak for themselves. 'We have sold almost 80 per cent of the plots to investors, including many regional and international investors,' says Al-Dabal.

DP underlined its faith in the project early on by launching the AED 2,200 million ($594 million) Executive towers in early 2005. Vision towers followed and other projects, such as a scheme known as the Hanging Gardens, are expected soon.

With the majority of the plots sold, DP's focus is shifting to delivery. The local/UK Dutco Balfour Beatty started work last July on the first phase of the creek extension, between Al-Khail road and Sheikh Zayed road. About 3.5 kilometres is now complete. 'e are ahead of schedule and by the end of the year, that work will be completed,' says Al-Dabal.

Tenders have also been submitted for the main infrastructure package, which includes all services and the internal road network. The programme is tight. The first phase of the creek extension, the infrastructure and the first crop of towers are scheduled for completion by the end of 2007.

Gathering steam

In terms of building work, about five projects have already moved on-site, including Executive towers, Deyaar's Citadel tower and Omniyat's One Business Bay. Designs for a further 27 projects have been submitted and work is expected to start on-site soon.

With a market already saturated with tower projects, the challenge for DP and third-party investors will be finding the spare capacity to take on the work. 'We have gone through a learning curve, we have listened to contractors and we have become partners. There is a lot of communication and co-ordination between contractors, project managers, consultants and us,' says Al-Dabal. 'We have become more transparent with budgets and the complexity of projects, and have given contractors more options so they can concentrate on areas where they have specific expertise. We have also helped out with payment terms, and contractors have helped us by executing our projects well.' The latest example of this flexibility is the AED 200 million ($54 million) addendum to Al-Habtoor Engineering Enterprises' Executive towers contract for the construction of the Business Bay hotel tower. Flexibility will certainly be needed in the future. DP is planning another AED 3,000 million-5,000 million ($810 million-1,350 million) project that will act as a focal point for the development. 'It's a unique project that will complement the rest of Business Bay. Within two to three months we will announce it,' says Al-Dabal. For DP, Business Bay is just the beginning of a string of mega-projects. 'We are a growing organisation. So far, we have about AED 35,000 million ($9,500 million) of projects under construction. We plan to nearly triple that to AED 95,000 million ($25,675 million) in the coming three years,' says Al-Dabal.

A MEED Subscription...

Subscribe or upgrade your current package to support your strategic planning with the MENA region’s best source of business information. Proceed to our online shop below to find out more about the features in each package.

Get Notifications