Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Era of the End User; Cityscape Business Breakfast highlights benefits of niche markets in the real estate sector

Abu Dhabi: The era of the end user has descended upon Abu Dhabi, and the UAE, according to a panel of leading experts from the real estate industry.  A discussion, which took place in Abu Dhabi hosted by Cityscape Connect, confirmed the importance for developers to identify their target market and plan for the requirements of these specific end users.
“It is the niche players who are doing very well in this market,” said panellist Michael Wing, regional director, Capita Symonds.  “People who have picked a particular product are doing very well.  On the basis of staying small, they have stayed focussed; where we are seeing problems is with companies who are too big and unable to adapt with the market as quickly.”
Wing was joined on the panel by Graham R Hallett, managing director of Abu Dhabi National Property Company; Michael Katounas, director for MENA investment banking at Credit Suisse; and Wael El Ashry, commercial vice president at Baniyas Investment and Development Company.  With Cityscape Abu Dhabi just around the corner, the 60 strong audience were keen to get the insider view on current trends and key topics.
The real estate industry outlook was debated throughout the morning, with the fundamental points from the discussion surrounding the increase in expectations from end users, in terms of additional facilities, better and more workable space and amenities when buying a property.
Wael El Ashry commented: “We have seen changes in the usage and purchase drivers in the current market.  There is still a market, especially for residential product, but there are changes in the route to market.  Within the residential sector, it is more than offering a property, there are now additional questions, such as “What are the additional services that come with this property” which was not prevalent before.”
Education and healthcare were cited as the most important “add-ons” by the panel of experts, with end users looking to buy an all encompassing living environment, more than just a unit.  In addition, parking, location and ease of access can be the determining factors when making a sale.
Chris Speller, group director for Cityscape Abu Dhabi, emphasised how important transparent processes and regulations were to the future development of the region.  He said: “This discussion excellently highlighted the need for developers to be aware of their market, to profile end users and plan projects according to sector demand.  Regulatory framework is one of the ways that can help end user demand to be met as well as ensuring the developers and investors have clear and transparent process to work within.  Thank you to our panellists for a very insightful discussion, we look forward to continuing the debate at Cityscape Abu Dhabi next month.”
The event will host the Middle East Real Estate Summit from 17-20 April, with topics including navigating the legal framework, affordable housing, aimed at helping to increase knowledge and awareness across the industry.
Cityscape Abu Dhabi will take place from 17-20 April at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).  Headline Sponsor of Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2011 is Mubadala Real Estate & Hospitality Holding Company LLC, Foundation Partner is the Department of Municipal Affairs and Platinum Sponsors are Al Qudra Real Estate LLC, Aabar Properties and Al Mabaar, The next Cityscape Connect business breakfast will be taking place on Thursday 31 March at the JAL Hotel in Dubai.  For further information or to register to attend, please visit

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