Emaar chairman optimistic about 2017

06 March 2017

The chairman of UAE’s largest listed developer is “cautiously optimistic” about property market future

The chairman of Emaar Properties, Mohamed Alabbar, is optimistic about the prospects of real estate market in the country and hopes this year will be better for the UAE’s biggest listed developer after a difficult 2016.

“We have a situation [in the real estate market]. I’m not saying we don’t have a situation – you just have to be careful,’ he told an investment conference in Dubai, adding that the property market like any other business was going through a cycle and he remains “cautiously optimistic” about the future.

He criticised some of the developers in the market who, in his opinion, were using “gimmicks” to sell their stocks and were targeting investors who seek quick profits by flipping the properties. “I don’t think we are selling to the right customers,” he said of those developers.

Despite a growing supply of retail oriented developments in the UAE, Alabbar said he favours more retail space to come on to the market as the current rentals were “high”, and additional supply will help create a balance in the market.

The UAE’s property market has recorded a slowdown qin recent quarters after recovering from a meltdown in 2008-09. Real estate prices have dipped and analysts predict a further weakness in the market going forward. The construction sector, in particular, has been hit hard in the region after the governments cut back on spending on the back of oil price slump from a mid-2014 peak of $115 a barrel.

“We hope 2017 will be a better year. 2016 was tough for us,” said Alabbar, adding that the company’s current backlog of project stands at $11.4bn.

Asked, if Emaar plans to list its hospitality business in future, Alabbar said the company is focused on preparing for the future and developing efficiencies within the business. The group’s chairman said there are currently not any plans to list any of its subsidiaries.

The company had launched the initial public offering of Emaar Malls, its malls retail business, in 2014.

Emaar Properties, which developed the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, reported a net profit of AED5.233bn ($1.425bn) for 2016, up 28 per cent on AED4.082bn a year-earlier. The revenues last year were AED15.540bn, up 14 per cent on 2015 figure of AED13.661bn.

The developer said the recurring revenues from shopping malls, hospitality, entertainment, and leisure businesses accounted for AED5.976bn, or 38 per cent, of total revenues.

The recurring revenues total was similar to the 2015 figure, despite the ongoing redevelopment at The Address Downtown Dubai, which caught fire on New Year’s Eve in 2015.

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