Browsing 'cityscape' News

The Bay community on the Pearl-Qatar is being developed by Al Bandary Real Estate.

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

The Bay community on the Pearl-Qatar is being developed by Al Bandary Real Estate.

Qatar’s largest real estate show opened its doors yesterday against the backdrop of a slowing economy and declining demand for homes, offices and retail space.

But that hasn’t stopped several of the country’s largest developers from unveiling plans for entirely new “urban communities” and luxury homes – including a cluster of QR30 million villas on the Pearl-Qatar – at the annual Cityscape real estate conference, believing that there is still plenty of demand for high-end and upper-middle-class homes.

“The population is growing. There are lots of expats coming in,” Osan Ghaddaf, the marketing manager of Al Bandary Real Estate, told Doha News. “Even though the market is slowing … we’re not looking at the short term. These are long-term projects.”

The company – which made waves last year with its plans for a waterpark-themed residential tower in Lusail last year – unveiled three new projects yesterday, all of which are scheduled to be completed within three years, according to Ghaddaf.

These include villas and complexes known as “The Bay,” branded as “the epitome of elite luxury living,” in La Plage South on the far end of the Pearl. All the villas have a private beach, while the apartments are built in a series of semicircular developments facing the water.

Lusail Azure is being developed by Al Bandary Real Estate.

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

Lusail Azure is being developed by Al Bandary Real Estate.

Elsewhere, Al Bandary has also started to market its twin 28-story tower Lusail Azure development, which features “villa” units spread out across multiple floors.

“It’s very high-end luxury,” Ghaddaf said. “People always demand (luxury) and we’re still seeing demand.”

New communities

Al Bandary is also targeting middle-class residents with a new 77-building development dubbed Alswida Village, adjacent to Barwa City near Industrial Area Road in Al Thumama.

Alswida Village is being developed by Al Bandary Real Estate.

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

Alswida Village is being developed by Al Bandary Real Estate.

The suburban area is becoming increasingly popular among families in Qatar, especially as new streets – particularly F-Ring Road – make it easier to commute into central Doha and additional shops and schools open.

“The whole area is growing into one for expats who want to pay an average rent and get a decent lifestyle,” Ghaddaf said.

Al Bandary is looking to sell each of the six-floor buildings to other property firms or individual Qatari investors, who would then rent out individual units to tenants.

Meanwhile, Ezdan Real Estate is building a brand-new town consisting of two schools, an office building, hypermarket, sports clubs, mosques, hundreds of shops and some 9,500 apartments in Wukair.

The first 2,500 units of the Ezdan Oasis are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, Kais Ouni, Ezdan’s senior sales and marketing executive, told Doha News. The remaining phases will be finished by the end of 2017, he added.

Ouni said lower prices and easy access to amenities are encouraging more and more people to move to towns and villages outside Qatar’s capital.

“People work in Doha, but prefer to live here,” he said.

Unlike Al Bandary, Ezdan will own and manage its development and lease units to tenants directly. Ouni estimated that rents would range between QR5,000 and QR8,000 a month.

Housing stock increases

Plans for these new projects come as developers wrap up construction on thousands of new housing units this year, which should provide some financial relief to tenants who have endured several years of rent increases that reached 10 percent in some cases.

For illustrative purposes only.

Omar Chatriwala

For illustrative purposes only.

The supply of apartments in the Pearl, Diplomatic District and Lusail is expected to jump by one-third in 2016 to reach 22,000 units, according to real estate firm DTZ Qatar.

At the same time, layoffs in the public and energy sectors have reduced the demand for high-quality residential accommodations, DTZ said in its latest market report, released at Cityscape.

“The changing dynamics in the market suggest that recent signs of falling rents … may continue throughout 2016,” the company said.

Although landlords may be reducing the rates of their vacant units, some residents say they are still being asked for more money when it’s time to renew their leases.

And, even with a slight softening of rents, housing is still expensive in Qatar and consumes more than a third of the average household’s budget.

Furthermore, much of the new residential construction in Doha has been of premium flats, meaning individuals looking for villas as well as affordable and centrally located flats may still find it difficult to find space.

Thoughts?

A number of major projects have been unveiled during the opening of the second Cityscape Qatar exhibition, including Barwa Real Estate’s $5.5 billion (QR20 billion) Oryx Island, which will include villas with private beaches, a water park and five floating hotels to accommodate 2022 World Cup fans.

The man-made island, which will be located off the coast of Doha, is currently in its concept phase, with Barwa’s Chief Executive Abdulla al-Subaie ambitiously announcing that it will ready by 2020.

According to Reuters, al-Subaie added that some 25,000 football fans will be able to stay there during the World Cup, with the help of cruise ships:

“We anticipate that there will be a short-term demand for hotel rooms, so maybe it is not wise to offer all these hotel rooms for only a short time.

Oryx Island can accommodate 20,000 to 25,000 people. Cruise ships can be docked for one week, two weeks. It can be mobilized and demobilized for a short time.”

Also on display at Cityscape, which is being held at the Doha Exhibition Center and will run through Wednesday, is a scale model of the $824 million Mall of Qatar project, announced last week.

Adjacent to the soon-to-be-renovated Al Rayyan Stadium, the mall is scheduled to open in the third quarter in 2015. It is slated to have more than 400 shops, an entertainment complex for kids as well as 100 restaurants and cafes.

Ezdan Holding Group, United Development Company and other major Qatar developers are also shared their upcoming real estate plans.

Thoughts?

Cityscape Qatar winds down at the Doha Exhibition Center tonight after offering a glimpse of things to come for the city, the country and the region.

Many of the big developers in town – Barwa, UDC, Ezdan and Al Futtaim – were touting their latest and greatest projects at the three-day conference and show.

IKEA update

Al Futtaim group, which is developing Doha Festival City and Qatar’s first IKEA, had a model of the sprawling mall on display.

A representative there confirmed to Doha News that construction of the IKEA store is slightly behind schedule, and is due to open in the beginning of 2013, rather than by the end of the year, as initially announced.

She also joked that the development, expected to be the second-largest mall in the world (after Dubai Mall), will be renamed IKEA Festival City due to the sheer number of inquiries they’ve had about the Swedish home goods store.

BARWA

Over at the Barwa booth, the company was showing off three of its big projects:

Barwa Commercial Avenue: A sprawling 1,000,000 square meter commercial & residential strip being built on Al Muntazah Road. It stretches over eight kilometers and seeks to offer everything from hotels to office space, housing, food courts, groceries, doctors, and pretty much anything else you could ever need. (It isn’t clear when it will be fully open, but office and retail space are already being leased.)

Barwa Al Baraha: Also known as Workers City, the residential development will house some 53,000 low-income laborers; the largest such project in the Gulf. Announced in 2008, the project’s first phase – a large truck park – has already been completed. But the housing phase, which has yet to go to tender, won’t be done until 2014.

Barwa City: The square kilometer residential and commercial development is just south of Commercial Avenue. Barwa City’s 6,000 apartments are currently only being offered to government and businesses, with tenants due to move in on July 1. Phase two would see it expand to include schools, a hotel and hospital.

The company also used Cityscape to announce a new project: the Lusail Golf Residential Development. The 3.7 sq. km development will have both residents and sports facilities, including an 18-hole golf course and country club.

EZDAN

At the Ezdan booth, visitors could get a glimpse of the company’s upcoming Al Gharafa Mall. The three-floor, 37,000 sq. meter shopping complex on Al Shamal Road is expected to open this September across the road from Landmark Mall. No details yet on specific retailers that will be setting up shop there.

Ezdan Al Gharafa Mall


Credit: Photos from Cityscape Qatar 2012 by Omar Chatriwala. Video courtesy of Barwa, rendering courtesy of Ezdan Real Estate.