Leading the Kuwaiti contingent in MEED’s real estate 100 survey is Tamdeen Real Estate Development Company. Established in Kuwait in 1982, it is a public company listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange with assets of more than KD432m ($1.6bn). The company merged with the Salmiya Real Estate Company in 1997.
To date, the company has focused on large-scale, mixed-use real estate schemes in Kuwait and the wider GCC region, including several projects in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.
Its most high-profile completed project to date is the Madinat al-Fahaheel, an urban mixed-use centre designed to be the new town centre of Fahaheel.
Value of projects: $77bn
Net profit (2007): $59m
Revenue (2007): $139.3m
The 300,000-sq m scheme comprises two components: Al-Kout Fahaheel Waterfront and Al-Manshar Towers & Complex, which was completed in 2006. The complex includes a hotel, four residential towers, an office tower and a convention centre.
While the firm also develops retail projects - for example, the Mall of Kuwait, which represents one of the biggest projects in the emirate and is due to open this year - it is the City of Silk that is by far the grandest and most ambitious scheme.
Valued at $58bn, the scheme represents one of the biggest mixed-use developments in the Middle East and positions Kuwait on a similar playing field to Saudi Arabia and Dubai for ambition and scope.
Designed by London-based architect Eric Kuhne & Associates, the City of Silk will be located in the Subiya peninsula to the north of Kuwait City, linked by the proposed Subiya causeway. The centrepiece of the 250-sq km project is a 1,001-metre tower, called the Burj Mubarak al-Kabir.
Located at the centre of Commercial City, the 234-floor tower will be connected, via a podium, with 27 other buildings in a nine-pointed star. The UK’s Atkins worked on the structural engineering.
Once completed in 2030, the City of Silk is expected to have a population of 700,000.
“The City of Silk is like a dream for us,” says Burhan Ravat, deputy general manager, projects, at Tamdeen Real Estate Company. “It will be like a new city in Kuwait.”
The city will be split into four sectors: finance, leisure, ecological and residential. Furthermore, it is being specifically designed to embrace Arabic culture within the cityscape and draw on its culture and heritage throughout the masterplan.
It is expected that the government will play a key role in the masterplanning and ongoing development of the city. But as yet, it remains to be seen how this will be shared out between the various parties involved.
The project itself, as is the norm in Kuwait, has had a slow gestation period. Figures from Gulf projects tracker MEED Projects reveal that Kuwait’s market is by far the slowest growing in the region, recording growth of just 6 per cent over the past year, compared with 36 per cent growth in Saudi Arabia and 37 per cent in the UAE.
The City of Silk was officially launched in 2005, but only in November 2007 were the designs formally approved by the municipality. And while the architect hoped construction would begin by the end of 2008, Ravat says it could be up to three years.
There is great anticipation surrounding the City of Silk project, not just for its sheer scale, but for the effect it may have on Kuwait’s land economy.
Kuwait’s high land prices are driven in part by restricted access to the emirate’s inner areas, which are owned almost exclusively by KOC.
A city-sized development to the north of the capital will alleviate this pressure and hopefully bring prices down to a realistic level.
In MEED’s analysis of real estate prices earlier this year, Kuwait City had by far the most expensive land costs in the region, at up to $60,000 a square metre, which illustrates why a new commercial area will be welcomed.
While the City of Silk slowly becomes a reality, Kuwaiti developers are naturally looking to the wider GCC for opportunities.
In August, Tamdeen opened a branch in Dubai to explore joint venture opportunities. Ravat also sees huge opportunities in Qatar as well as Bahrain, where government support for projects is stronger.
“We are a listed company, so why shouldn’t we work everywhere?” asks Ravat.
To this end, the company has taken on Qatar’s Baraya project in a joint venture of Tamdeen, Imtiaz Investment Company and Barwa.
The 65,000-sq m mixed-use project in Doha is part of the rejuvenation of the capital’s downtown area.