Issue No 300 - 24 Feb 2009
Abu Dhabi to take centre stage at Cityscape

Abu Dhabi has emerged as a cultural capital focused on developing visionary projects based on modern architecture and sustainability, say the organizers of an upcoming real estate and development event.

The international real estate and development expo Cityscape Abu Dhabi (CAD) 2009 will take place from April 19-22 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and will bring together international and regional investors, developers, architects, government authorities, regulators and professional bodies to discuss market challenges.

'With the global credit crisis causing uncertainty across much of the real estate industry, investors are naturally cautious about where to focus,' said Rohan Marwaha, managing director of the Cityscape series, the next of which takes place in Abu Dhabi in April organized by IIR Middle. 'Abu Dhabi, with multi-billion dollar long term plans for continued infrastructure development, is providing the world with remarkable opportunities that simply do not exist elsewhere.

'What is becoming clear in the new global economic climate is that Abu Dhabi, is fast establishing itself as a beacon of cultural renaissance as well as a focus for futuristic, sustainable residential and commercial habitats.'

Abu Dhabi's cultural focus is centered on the Saadiyat Island (which translates as island of happiness) development which includes the first branch of the Louvre outside of Paris and the world’s largest Guggenheim Museum.

On the sustainability front, Abu Dhabi is a providing a global role model with the UK architectural firm Foster and Partners master planning the world's first zero carbon city. Known as Masdar City, the pioneering development has begun construction and will eventually house 40,000 people with no greenhouse gas emissions and no waste.

'Though developing business tourism is expected to support Abu Dhabi during the financial downturn, the emirate is pressing on with dramatic cultural attractions for the longer term,' said Marwaha. 'Saadiyat Island’s cultural district is on track to be completed on time, with construction of the Louvre, Guggenheim and Sheikh Zayed National museums scheduled to start this year, with no delays expected in their progress.'

The dramatic Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi will be the largest Guggenheim at 30,000 sq meter and is being built at an estimated cost of $400 million. Gehry's previous best-known works include the world-renowned titanium covered Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain.

The similarly dramatic domed Louvre Museum planned for Abu Dhabi is designed by French architect Jean Nouvel who was awarded the 2008 Pritzker Prize for his creative experimentation. His works include the much acclaimed Institute du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute) in Paris, which utilizes aspects of Islamic architecture and, like the Louvre itself, is one of the French capital's cultural reference points.

Saadiyat Island's cultural district is one of the emirate’s planned anchor tourism attractions and is expected to attract 1.5 million visitors a year once fully completed by 2018 and will be home to around 160,000 people. When the project was first announced, the island was expected to attract investment of more than $27 billion.

Marwaha said Abu Dhabi’s property market remains strong. “You have to compare Abu Dhabi to other international cities in terms of the extent to which they are on the radars of institutional investors and high net worth individuals,” he said. “Abu Dhabi still is a very strong proposition and has a lot of growth to go through.”

With more than 100 speakers, the CAD Real Estate Finance and Investment Conference will be tackling head-on the challenges facing Abu Dhabi and other regions such as financing major projects in troubled times. Trends in green development will also be examined in depth along with the continued cost-effectiveness of sustainability.

Unique contributions to world architecture and sustainability are strong focuses of this year's Cityscape Middle East real estate awards which will be attended by more than 500 industry leaders.

All entries will be judged on their contribution to world architecture culture, invention and imagination, respect for people, the planet, context, environmental awareness and appropriateness in the Middle East and North Africa region. In some categories, entries will be separated into projects already complete and future projects.

CAD has received widespread backing from industry leaders such as Mubadala Real Estate and Hospitality, Aldar, Sorouh Real Estate, Al Qudra Real Estate, the Land Real Estate Investment and Development Company, Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, Burooj Properties, Abu Dhabi Investment House, Department of the Municipal Affairs, Abu Dhabi, Tameer and Al Maabar and CNN.

Source: Trade Arabia News

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