Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2010 :Transparency and regulation dominate Cityscape agenda

Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2010 :Transparency and regulation dominate Cityscape agenda

“Greater transparency and improvements in the regulatory environment are set to dominate proceedings at what will be without a doubt the most comprehensive event to date on the future of the real estate investment industry in the region,” said Chris Speller, Cityscape Group Director.

In addition to the largest real estate exhibition, 162 experts from over 25 countries will be speaking at the conference which forms part of Cityscape Abu Dhabi at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from 18-21 April 2010. Cityscape Abu Dhabi is held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

“For the real estate investment community these have been difficult times so it is not surprising that the combined issues of transparency, regulation and project delivery are among the most important concerns as strategies are planned for the future,” Speller added.

“Those concerns will be directly addressed and have been woven into the 36 conference sessions of the conference across three days to provide both an overview of the dramatic changes that have impacted markets as well as focusing on economic recovery, policy reforms and investment opportunities regionally and globally.

“Allied to this will be a further session on how the wider Gulf Co-operation Council countries and the Middle East in general have confronted the global economic turmoil and how growth forecasts have been altered.”

From the institutional investor perspective, the key debate will be on establishing transparency and consistency in data and real estate market analytics, added Speller. “The role of institutional investors in the revival of the regional real estate industry is crucial and foreign investors in particular are looking for improvements in transparency and the regulatory framework. We will be looking at what long-term institutional investors think about Abu Dhabi and the regional markets and how to incentivise them to enter the market.”

“We will also be examining investment strategies in some detail including the viability of Middle East real estate investment trusts (REITs), including Shariah-compliant vehicles, where there is also concern over transparency.”

A recent wealth management report by Bank Sarasin of Switzerland said the lack of public data on the performance of Islamic REITs and real estate funds in general needed to be “addressed urgently if the sector is to mature.”

Other topics set to dominate at the conference are the merits of investing in emerging markets versus mature markets; maximising opportunities in distressed real estate; corporate and debt restructuring strategies; dissecting real estate boom and bust cycles in real estate to make strategic investment decisions. The conference will also examine the impact of the US stimulus package; the emerging potential of the Levant countries; Saudi Arabia, the economic powerhouse of the Middle East; opportunities in South and Latin America, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Russia; India versus China; investment and development opportunities in Africa; and the resilience of Asia in the global recession.

Among keynote speakers will be Rashed Mubarak Alhajeri, Chairman of the Department of Municipal Affairs; Mohamed Rashed Al Hameli, Director General of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry; John Bullough, CEO of Aldar; John A. Thomas, Executive Director of Mubadala Real Estate and Hospitality; and Dr Nimer Basbous, Legal Adviser, HSBC Bank Middle East.

The development of the Middle East and North Africa real estate sector will be on display at the Cityscape Awards for Real Estate, marked with a gala dinner on Sunday 18 April 2010. Awards will be divided in to the main categories of architecture and development and entries are judged on their contribution to world architecture culture, invention and imagination, respect for people, the planet, context, environmental awareness and appropriateness in the region.

Headline sponsor of Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2010 is Mubadala Real Estate and Hospitality. Platinum sponsors are Al Qudra Real Estate, Al Maabar and Aldar Properties. Associate sponsor is the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipal Affairs.

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