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Abu Dhabi's freehold areas 'must be extended'

Abu Dhabi's freehold areas 'must be extended' - Property - Real Estate - UAE - Hani Shammah - Bloom Properties - Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi should think about extending the freehold areas in which expatriates can purchase properties in the city beyond the upcoming waterfront and island-living luxury developments, according to Dr Hani Shammah, CEO of developer Bloom Properties.

Dr Shammah told AME Info that, in order to continue its development into a normally functioning real estate market, the UAE capital needed to extend the scope of areas in which expatriates could purchase property.

'You need to focus on the economics of the situation. An expat school teacher, significantly contributing to the well being and advancement of society, should be enabled to buy. It's a reality of life that he or she may not be able to afford a waterfront development. Therefore you need to expand the areas that are covered by the freehold laws,' said Dr Shammah.

'In reality Abu Dhabi does not need the restrictions, expand it so that you have a coherent development of the whole island. It should not only be a policy supporting specific developments by keeping restrictions in place.'

As well as an expansion of the areas designated for freehold purchase, Dr Shammah is convinced that in the short term, in order to foster a 'normal' real estate market, development should focus around Abu Dhabi itself, rather than on mega-projects located outside of the commutable zone.

''Greater Abu Dhabi' extending all the way to the future Khalifa Port Project is great for development, involves huge areas yet to be developed as per the Urban Planning Council's Vision 2030. On the other hand, projects in the middle of nowhere should be either cancelled or shelved for several years to come.'

New brand

Bloom Properties, which operates as the development and lifestyle arm of Abu Dhabi's National Holding, came into being last year as a rebranding of its predecessor Emirates International Real Estate, with an asset base of close to Dhs10bn.

The group focuses on projects in emerging markets, such as its 800-hectare Dounya project in Algeria, as well as Abu Dhabi, where it has a range of projects on the go. As a result, current market conditions have forced it to suspend its mixed use projects scheduled in Romania.

Market conditions have also prompted a focus on executing currently launched projects while prioritising and phasing the launch of other projects. Bloom Gardens, a 640-unit villa and low-rise apartment block development is a high priority for Bloom: 'Bloom Gardens is our first project launched for sale under the new brand. Phase one will be delivered on time, in the first half of 2011. The rest of the project will be delivered by 2012.

'I think it's important for us now to deliver on Bloom Gardens. What we've done is go back and review the prices significantly to reflect the lower construction costs. Existing buyers will benefit from the revised lower prices and payment plans. It is initiatives such as these that will support Bloom's development plans through the downturn.'


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