Investors scramble for waterfront property

03 May 2002

Over 60 per cent of the apartments in the Marina Towers waterfront complex in Beirut have been sold since the $150 million project was launched by Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in November, the developers say. 'The owners are equally divided between Lebanese expatriates looking for a primary residence in Beirut and Gulf families looking for a home in Lebanon,' the local branch of the US' Manning Selvage & Lee, which is marketing the property,announced in late April.

Saudi Arabia's El-Seif Engineering & Contracting Companyis co-ordinating design and engineering work for the complex, which comprises a 27-storey residential building and a nine-storey commercial centre containing shopping malls and restaurants. About 25 per cent of the commercial space has been sold. Bauerof Germany was awarded in January the estimated $3 million contract for excavation and piling work on the 7,100-square-metre site. This first phase of preparatory work will be completed by the end of the year, and the construction package is expected to be tendered in September, project sources say.

El-Seif and Bauer have also been awarded contracts for the neighbouring Beirut Four Seasons Hotel, a $250 million development which will share a 3,000-square-metre park with the Marina Towers complex on the Beirut corniche. The hotel will feature a seven-story podium and a 19-storey tower, housing 287 guest rooms and suites, with a small health club and pool on top. The client, Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Hotel Investment Group, is understood to have acquired space in the Marina Towers complex as well.

The influx of foreign investors looking to buy property in Beirut has led to a mini boom in the local construction sector. A number of large-scale commercial and residential properties under construction in Lebanon are financed by Saudi companies or individuals. Besides El-Seif, the group of investors behind Marina Towers is understood to include Al-Jeraisy, Al-Rashidand Al-Omran Engineering & Construction, all of Saudi Arabia, with the local Safai Group(MEED 16:11:01).

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