Taking cues from the neighbouring Dubai, the Abu Dhabi economy is steadily moving away from its dependency on oil. Unlike many oil-backed economies, rulers and authorities in the UAE had the foresight to gauge the headwinds an economy based on a particular natural resource could face. That has been the reason that the UAE has been diligently working to expand its economic avenues.
In the past two decades, the two main emirates have transformed themselves completely. From being labelled as just being commercial ports to becoming globally competitive economic powerhouses, authorities here have played their cards well. Today, despite the liquidity constraints owing to the oil price crunch, the UAE economy is sailing towards progress steadily. In the present age, UAE capital Abu Dhabi has become known as the go-to centre for tourism and hospitality, financial services, ports and shipping, cargo handling and manufacturing in the MENA region.
But as the city’s population continues to grow, a natural need for housing and hospitality offerings across more varied price points has arisen. The need has become even more prompt with the emirate’s plans of becoming a leading regional tourism destination within the next decade. Abu Dhabi plans to host 7.9 million annual tourists by 2030, and mega plans like these need massive infrastructure.
While many agree that the real estate supply line in the emirate has not been that generous recently, the issue is likely to be addressed in the coming months. Industry experts are putting the hotel room requirement to cater to the planned tourist numbers at 74,000, and industry players may well have an answer to that already.
Cityscape Abu Dhabi
With a clear tourism goal in sight and a genuine demand for affordable lodging, this year’s Cityscape Abu Dhabi is likely to have solutions to the affordability problem at its core. Planned from April 18-20, industry observers are expecting real estate developers to launch a myriad of mid-market and affordable hospitality and housing projects.
Simon Chambers, Partner at leading international architectural and design practice Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ), said the need for affordable lodging was evident. “Abu Dhabi is already home to a number of luxury hotels but if the capital is to develop its tourism product to meet the forecasted figures by 2030, it will need to continue building its portfolio of affordable business and city hotels.”
Data from the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture put the guest arrival numbers to the emirate in 2016 at 4.4 million, an 8% growth over 2015. The 7.9 million annual tourist target can be achieved as early as 2024 if the growth continues at the existing rate. The Middle East shows consistent year-on- year growth and we are confident that the number of business and leisure travellers across the region will grow in line with booming economies, calling for more accessible quality hotels,” GAJ’s Chambers added.
The Cityscape Abu Dhabi, to be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, is expected to see the launch of a number of investment opportunities for buyers across all price points.
Dr Kyriazis, who is an Assistant Professor at Abu Dhabi University and will speak at this year’s new show floor feature, Cityscape Talks, also highlighted the need for affordable options in the real estate market. “High-end architecture will always be part of the picture but what would benefit the city most is the development of our public spaces and low to middle income housing,” Kyriazis said.
“Affordable housing will be the answer to help ease the pressure applied by the increase in living costs. Combined with the need to control urban sprawl, this could be a game-changer for mid-value quality housing and a lucrative market for the main real estate players.”
Given the demand, low to middle income housing and hotels has become an incentive not many developers can ignore much longer. Short-term rentals and serviced apartment are other segments likely to receive attention from developers. The categories received a welcoming response from users in Dubai and and will be received well in Abu Dhabi also.
Gauging the industry sentiment, we consider a visit to this year’s Cityscape Abu Dhabi a must for investors, homebuyers and real estate aficionados looking for exciting developments. Visitors can definitely benefit from Cityscape Talks that will run throughout the exhibition and offer information for visitors and industry experts across a wide range of topics straight from the show floor. The Cityscape Abu Dhabi Conference will also return with a host of leading speakers who will focus on Destination Abu Dhabi: Investment opportunities in Abu Dhabi’s hospitality and free zones.
Manazel Real Estate, Aldar Properties, Eagle Hills, Mubadala, RAK Properties, Tilal Properties and United Gulf Properties along with first timers Al Sharq, the National Investment Corporation and Tiger Properties are few among hundreds of local and international exhibitors attending the event, and each is expected to offer exciting projects of their own.