Abu Dhabi-based real estate investment company Al Maabar announced this week that it planned to launch a $10bn project in Baghdad, the first real estate project of this scale to be unveiled in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.
The company is backed by all four major Abu Dhabi developers; Aldar, Sorouh, Reem and Al Qudra, and the announcement comes hot on the heels of a surprise official visit to the Iraqi capital by the emirate's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The $10bn investment is the largest foreign financial real estate project to be unveiled in Iraq. It is planned as a mixed-use facility, including specific residential sectors, a commercial district and a hospitality district with a number of hotels and entertainment facilities including a theatre cinema and golf course.
The planned area will cover 1,250 hectares in the centre of the city, and, following guidelines laid down by Baghdad authorities will also include non-commercial public facilities such as mosques.
'The move to develop this project complements the growing levels of support that the UAE is providing to the government of Iraq. Through the direction of the Abu Dhabi leadership, Al Maabar will add real value to the countries that it invests in,' said Yousef Al Nowais, Managing Director of Al Maabar at the unveiling of the project.
'Al Maabar plans to achieve this through job creation and talent development, knowledge transfer and economic stimulus and will be working very closely with the relevant ministries in Iraq to insure that this project meets the specific needs of the Iraqi people.'
Al Maabar, which was launched by the backing companies as a vehicle for international projects, already has a range of planned developments outside of the UAE, including a $1bn luxury real estate complex planned outside of Marrakech, Morocco, and a development, Abu Dhabi Plaza, in Astana, Kazakhstan in conjunction with Aldar Properties.
The group also has projects that are either planned or underway in Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan and Belarus.
Abu Dhabi's major real estate companies have all sought to diversify by investing in projects outside of the emirate, although at a much more sedate pace than developers in Dubai, a strategy that now appears wise given the possible contraction of liquidity in global luxury real estate projects.
Indeed, the majority of these involve sharing responsibility by entering into partnerships with global brands to launch developments in emerging markets including North Africa and Central Asia. Many of these also look beyond the traditional remit of UAE developers, which tend to seek out high-end luxury projects, and offer accommodation for local consumption, thus targeting an existent market.
Sorouh has a number of projects underway, including a mixed use residential and 850-unit hospitality development in Morocco targeting the top end of the market, and a residential project in Egypt for 40,000 residents that will look to offer a cross section of accommodation to the local market.
As well as the Astana project, Aldar recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Bahrain-based Cebarco, which will precede an arrangement to create a joint contracting venture for real estate projects across the region. The group is also already involved with the Iskandar project in Malaysia.
(AME Info FZ LLC)