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The Pearl-Qatar

UDC

The Pearl-Qatar

Residents of the Pearl-Qatar, rejoice. Developers have announced plans to possibly build a new access road to get on and off the island.

Currently, there’s only one road linking the Pearl to the rest of Doha, which can make it difficult to leave during peak traffic times.

Residents have previously expressed concerns about the safety and security implications of only having one exit point. Developer UDC had previously said they had no plans to change this.

Traffic on the Pearl-Qatar

Alfredo Marques

Traffic on the Pearl-Qatar

However, in a statement today, UDC now said a feasibility study is being conducted to look at “possible alternative routes.”

The impact on the surrounding environment will be considered and “modern traffic control solutions” that will regulate entry and exit from the island will also be part of the study.

“This study further reflects UDC’s awareness of the severity of the traffic jam situation, particularly during evenings and weekends. Accordingly the company hopes to complete the study soon,” it added.

The developer has not given a timeline for the project.

Congestion

The Pearl has been launching a number of restaurants and leisure options on the island to attract more visitors.

Additionally, more apartments and villas are also being completed and open for rent.

Traffic in and around the Pearl

Alfredo Marques/Twitter

Traffic in and around the Pearl

This development on the island, as well as Doha Metro and Lusail Expressway construction near its access point, have caused many backups in the area.

The existing artery route onto and through the island has four lanes in each direction.

However, with around 30,000 vehicles entering the island every day and more expected in the coming years, the organization acknowledged more roads are needed.

“Based on the new traffic data extracted by UDC through specialized traffic monitoring techniques, an updated study is now needed to ensure smooth traffic flow is restored, especially during rush hours,” UDC said.

The island is being built in stages and by 2018, is expected to have nearly 19,000 villas, apartments, chalets and townhouses. So far, only a fraction of these are occupied.

Plans are also underway for construction of a new kindergarten and school on the island. In June this year, UDC began accepting proposals from potential investors.

It will be located in a new residential development called Giardino Villas.

Thoughts?

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Abdulla Almesleh/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar-based United Development Company (UDC) has seen profits plunge in the first half of 2016 amid a softening home rental market.

The Pearl-Qatar developer reported a net profit of QR353 million (UD$96.98 million) for the first two quarters of this year, down 39 percent from the QR577 million (US$158.52 million) reported at the same time last year.

In a statement, UDC’s President and CEO said the results actually beat expectations and “reflect the soundness of our strategy.”

Abraj Quartier Commecial Towers

UDC

Abraj Quartier Commecial Towers

Ibrahim Al Othman added that to keep business going, the company has been working with unnamed “strategic developers” who are investing in several of the Pearl’s properties this year.

So far in 2016, UDC has sold a tower plot in Viva Bahriya, various plots in the planned Giardino Villas and is in the process of selling one of the new Abraj Quartier’s commercial towers, which stand at the entrance of the island.

Demand for luxury rentals down

In its statement, UDC said leasing of residential units at the Pearl went up 4 percent in the past six months, compared to the same period last year.

While that growth appears small, it comes amid an overall decline in demand for luxury apartment rentals, real estate analyst Mark Proudley told Doha News.

This is in large part because thousands of white-collar expats have left Qatar this year, due to belt-tightening layoffs and other opportunities.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Damon McDonald/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

According to Proudley, the head of DTZ Qatar, many upper-end apartment towers around the country are starting to see vacancy levels in the double digits.

“Rentals have also softened by around 5 percent to 10 percent, though a lot of landlords are offering tenants a rent-free period as an additional incentive,” he said.

The Pearl has been no different. UDC has been offering a promotion on several of its apartments there, offering tenants two months’ free rent if they sign up for a 14-month lease.

Retail a boon

One bright spot for the Pearl has been retail leasing, which is up 39 percent from last year, UDC said.

Commenting on this growth, Proudley told Doha News that this is likely due to the opening of Medina Centrale, a mixed-use walkable area with several midrange eateries, a cinema and new gaming center.

Shops there are more “attractive to retailers than the retail available around Porto Arabia, which is spread out over long distances,” he said.

The Pearl's Medina Centrale district

UDC

The Pearl\’s Medina Centrale district

Medina Centrale is the result of a strategy shift for the Pearl, which originally had a high-end focus.

After sales slowed at upscale restaurants over an alcohol ban, UDC announced it would pivot to make the Pearl a “comprehensive, welcoming, flexible and balanced” place instead of a high-end, “heavily upscale” shopping hub.

According to management, it will continue in that direction by opening an indoor shopping arcade inside of Medina Centrale called Souq Medina and welcome retailers at its new Abraj Quartier tower.

Thoughts?

Qatar developer UDC boosts profits by 8 percent in 2015

United Development Co. (UDC), known for planning and overseeing construction of the Pearl-Qatar, said its 2015 net profit climbed 8 percent last year to reach QR689.6 million.

UDC, which also has holdings in petrochemical firms, marine activities and utilities, is among the first of Qatar’s major real estate companies to report its full-year financial results. While the slump in oil prices has lowered growth projects for the wider economy, the property sector appears to remain a bright spot as Barwa and Ezdan Holdings also posted large increases in profits through the first nine months of 2015.