Abu Dhabi’s leading property developer seeks partners for projects

Abu Dhabi‘s leading property developer ALDAR is in Singapore looking for both investors and skilled partners for its real estate development projects in the Middle Eastern city.ALDAR was set up by the UAE authorities to promote the development of Abu Dhabi.

ALDAR’s Chief Investment Officer John Straw explains why the developer is participating in the Global Entrepolis @ Singapore.

“We are always looking for new sources of capital and in particular expertise. The market we’re in has huge development opportunity, and we need two things to deliver that opportunity – one, is expertise, and the other, is money,” he says.

“We also must identify end-users, because we are not speculative. We are cautious of our source of money and we’re cautious about making sure that our properties are actually occupied by end-users. It doesn’t add value in terms of our model if a property bought by somebody just lies empty.

“We’ve been mindful in investing in infrastructure to keep it well ahead of development. So the market which we require is aimed quite squarely at much of Asia, in terms of who our end-customers might be. They might be commercial, residential or industrial. At the same time, we are looking for partnerships.”

To a question of what Asia investors can look forward to when they want to invest in, or work in Abu Dhabi, Mr Straw says: “We’ve got money; what we need is skills. And the skill to build something and to manage it is a very productive opportunity for contractors in the future.

“Concrete is a big issue to us and we need guaranteed supplies of that. We need to have the management skills of the contractor. The labour can be delivered by some of the local contractors – notably from India. But the management skills are not in great supply, and I think there is a very good opportunity for Asian contractors there.

“From our side of the fence, we are looking for new types of relationships with contractors. Going to tender is not the answer; it doesn’t guarantee you anything anymore. Whereas working in partnership with contractors definitely gives us a better product and it gives them security and a long-term business opportunity.”

For people who are looking forward to investing in Abu Dhabi, Mr Straw advises them to have a clear understanding of the society and the culture of the people they are dealing with.

“Most people in the world regard the Middle East as something to be wary about. I think one should start by understanding the nature of the society in Abu Dhabi and the nature of the opportunity. Then, I would look at the sustainability issue.

“You look at investing in any growing real estate market in the world and you ask yourself – what is the medium-term investment and what is the long-term investment, and what do I really need to get in and to often turn it quickly? I don’t think Abu Dhabi is a market which is going the try-to-turn-it-quickly route. I cannot think of anywhere else in the world that offers the same opportunities for medium and longer term investors.”

Source: Channel NewsAsia, 30 October 2006

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