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by Executive Editors

Ashrafieh reaching higher

A study recently conducted by Al Iktisad Wal Aamal magazine on real estate projects in the Achrafieh area of Beirut showed that there are currently 91 projects under construction, of which 88 are residential buildings. These add up to 1,366 floors, and 1,988 apartments with an overall area of 804,452 square meters. The selling value of the projects amounted to more than $2.8 billion, said the study, with numbers being supplied by developers of the projects.  Some 47 percent of the developments are located in the areas of Sioufi, Hotel Dieu, Sodeco, and Nasrah. More than 25 percent are located in Sassine, Mar Mtr, and Fern el Hayek, while 16.5 percent are in Al Rmel, Modawar, Jeitawi, and Karm el Zaytoun. The remaining 11 percent are located in St. Nicolas, Al Saifi, Tabaris, and Sursock. Only six projects have been completed and handed over while most of the others are to be completed in 2010 and 2011. Apartments of less than 250 square meters constitute 46.1 percent of the total, while those between 250 and 350 square meters constituted 33 percent. The remainder is divided into apartments between 351 and 450 square meters (11 percent) and over 450 square meters (9.9 percent). As for the prices, information supplied by owners and developers said that prices range between $1,800 and $9,000 per square meter. Apartments priced at less than $2,000 per square meter constituted only 3.7 percent of the total, while 42 percent of apartments were priced between $2,000 and $2,999 per square meter. Some 24 percent of units were priced between $3,000 and $3,999 per square meter, 23 percent between $4,000 and $4,999 and the rest over $5,000 per square meter (5 percent).  As of January, 1,224 of the 1,988 apartments were sold (62 percent) with an approximate value of $1.6 billion.

Ashrafieh reaching higher

A study recently conducted by Al Iktisad Wal Aamal magazine on real estate projects in the Achrafieh area of Beirut showed that there are currently 91 projects under construction, of which 88 are residential buildings. These add up to 1,366 floors, and 1,988 apartments with an overall area of 804,452 square meters. The selling value of the projects amounted to more than $2.8 billion, said the study, with numbers being supplied by developers of the projects.  Some 47 percent of the developments are located in the areas of Sioufi, Hotel Dieu, Sodeco, and Nasrah. More than 25 percent are located in Sassine, Mar Mtr, and Fern el Hayek, while 16.5 percent are in Al Rmel, Modawar, Jeitawi, and Karm el Zaytoun. The remaining 11 percent are located in St. Nicolas, Al Saifi, Tabaris, and Sursock. Only six projects have been completed and handed over while most of the others are to be completed in 2010 and 2011. Apartments of less than 250 square meters constitute 46.1 percent of the total, while those between 250 and 350 square meters constituted 33 percent. The remainder is divided into apartments between 351 and 450 square meters (11 percent) and over 450 square meters (9.9 percent). As for the prices, information supplied by owners and developers said that prices range between $1,800 and $9,000 per square meter. Apartments priced at less than $2,000 per square meter constituted only 3.7 percent of the total, while 42 percent of apartments were priced between $2,000 and $2,999 per square meter. Some 24 percent of units were priced between $3,000 and $3,999 per square meter, 23 percent between $4,000 and $4,999 and the rest over $5,000 per square meter (5 percent).  As of January, 1,224 of the 1,988 apartments were sold (62 percent) with an approximate value of $1.6 billion.

Syria’s star island

The Lebanese real estate developer Noor International Holding announced at the beginning of March that is has proposed a plan to the Syrian authorities to build a $10 billion real estate development, according to Zawya Dow Jones. The Arab Stars Islands projects will consist of two star-shaped artificial islands covering some 907,000 square meters off Syria’s Mediterranean coast. Once the license is given, the project will be completed in four years, Mohammed Saleh, the chairman of Noor International told Dow Jones. The islands will include commercial, residential, tourist and recreational complexes. Noor International proposed plans to build a Cedar Island on the Lebanese coast but so far has failed to obtain the license required to start the project.

Quality clampdown after collapse kills workers

Following the collapse of a seven-story building in Amman in the first week of March, Jordan’s Prime Minister Samir Rifai called for intensifying inspections of new construction sites to ensure safety and engineering standards are met, according to the Jordan Times. The building collapse killed five workers and injured seven. The Jordan Engineers Association (JEA) also said last month that most of the new buildings constructed in Jordan, excluding the capital, do not comply with the National Building Code. “Due to poor enforcement of the regulations by authorities and the widespread influence of favoritism, licenses are issued after the construction is complete, which is a clear violation of the rules,” Mahmoud Subhi, head of JEA’s technical affairs and engineering supervision committee told the Jordan Times. He said most buildings would not withstand possible earthquakes and stressed that municipalities should not give permits before the JEA’s approval of blueprints. He also added that even buildings constructed under The Ministry of Public Works and Housing’s “Decent Housing for Decent Living” initiative are not compliant with the building code.

US firm targets distressed assets in Gulf

The United States-based investment firm Blumberg Capital Partners announced last month the launch of a $1 billion property fund targeting distressed properties in the Gulf, the US and Brazil, according to Arabian Business. The Chief Executive Officer and founder of the company Philip Blumberg announced that a third of the fund — which has already attracted interest from local sovereign wealth funds — will be invested in the Gulf. “We’re seeing very significant interest from the Gulf region in particular. The commitments, both soft and hard, are in excess of $100 million,” the CEO announced. The firm made plans to meet with fund managers and developers in Abu Dhabi in order to discuss possible investment, while also aiming to invest in a mixed-used development in Oman, said the publication. “We’re pretty convinced there are opportunities here in the Gulf. [But] Dubai, I think hasn’t sorted itself out yet,” said the CEO. “Certainly on the residential side, there is a huge legal grey area. As an investor, it concerns me. I would clarify the legal situation importantly now, knowing that investors are the fuel, not the developers.”

Gulf sees slump in real-estate values

According to the regional real estate tracker MEED projects, the value of ongoing and announced real estate projects in the Gulf Cooperation Council has decreased by 13.7 percent year-on-year as of February 2010. The United Arab Emirates witnessed the greatest decline of 26.2 percent, with the value of projects on hold amounting to $468 billion. The second greatest decline was in Kuwait, followed by Oman, and Qatar, while only Bahrain and Saudi Arabia witnessed an increase in the value of ongoing and announced projects, by 0.2 and 3.9 percent, respectively. Despite Saudi Arabia’s increase in total project value, $53 billion worth of developments are currently on hold.

Burj holds up Armani opening

The opening of the Armani Hotel in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, was delayed by more than one month being rescheduled from March 18 to April 22, reported The National.

“We needed additional time to make sure everything was 100 percent perfect,” a source close to the company told the newspaper. Moreover, up until the third week of March, the observation deck at the Burj Khalifa’s 124th floor, which was closed for maintenance on February 7, was still inaccessible to visitors. The National said that no opening date for the deck has been set yet.

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Executive Editors

Executive Editors are the collective voice of the magazine. Stories written by Executive Editors are the culmination of discussions, brainstorming, research and information-gathering by our editorial team. Over decades, our editorial team has applied a blend of seasoned expertise and a discerning eye to bring you insightful and engaging and substantive reads that eschew sensationalism.
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