Can you tell us about Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2019? Are there any central themes that will take centre stage during the three-day event?
This year’s Cityscape Abu Dhabi marks the 13th edition of the leading real estate event in the region. From 16 to 18 April, we will connect investors, homebuyers and industry professionals to leading property developers to buy, sell, network and exchange ideas. Cityscape Abu Dhabi will comprise an exhibition, workshops, talks and a two-day conference. We expect to see trends revolve around key themes at this year’s Cityscape Abu Dhabi: technology and affordability.
We expect a continued flight-to-affordability at this year’s Cityscape Abu Dhabi as agents and financial institutions provide attractive deals, payment plans and smart solutions to attract long-term investors.
Real estate companies continue to adopt and invest in technologies to enhance consumer experience. These technologies, such as big data, blockchain and IoT, provide new methods of payment, artificial intelligence-deduced market data and virtual reality to help buyers discover properties remotely. Proptech will be a major part of the conference this year. As technology takes off, we look at its effects locally in the property sector, looking at how innovative technologies such as AI, Blockchain and big data, have become much more powerful and disruptive, transforming many players in areas such as property management, construction, maintenance, land registration and legal services into high-tech ventures.
Since its inception, Cityscape has emphasized on market intelligence and education. What key insights will be shared with visitors of this year’s event?
This year’s Cityscape Abu Dhabi will feature a headline conference counting on an international line-up of expert speakers. The Cityscape Conference on 16 April will centre around four key themes to give delegates as much insight in Abu Dhabi’s real estate market as possible: emerging trends in real estate; Abu Dhabi’s growth strategy; new government initiatives; and innovative technologies in real estate.
On the 16th, we will also turn our focus on the architecture and design industry. Our sessions for the afternoon delve into the built environment, wellness, and happiness.
The past year has been a challenging one for the UAE’s real estate market. Do you expect these challenges to reflect at this year’s Cityscape Abu Dhabi, or are you expecting good activity?
More than 80 exhibitors and suppliers, as well as over 15,000 buyers and investors are expected at this year’s Cityscape Abu Dhabi. There is a degree of optimism in the market following widespread economic stimulus moves from the government, and Cityscape Abu Dhabi will put this rising sentiment to the test. In addition to the government’s raft of incentives to boost the sector, Abu Dhabi’s real estate market is currently skewed towards buyers and tenants, with more bargaining power when it comes to negotiating sale prices and other terms and conditions.
Does Cityscape Abu Dhabi have a global presence? Are you expecting international visitors?
Last year, Cityscape Abu Dhabi saw 75 exhibitors and welcomed nearly 16,000 visitors from 60-plus countries. With a number of solid initiatives designed to boost the real estate sector announced in recent weeks and months, we are confident international attendance figures will increase year-on-year.
With subdued real estate market activity, do you think Abu Dhabi is still appealing for investors from outside the UAE?
Abu Dhabi remains a leading real estate destination. Only last year, Abu Dhabi’s Department of Economic Development launched the Abu Dhabi Investment Office. This initiative serves as a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) promotion vehicle. It addresses challenges facing international investors as part of its remit to attract inward investment and supports the ongoing diversification of the emirate’s economy.
The Abu Dhabi Investment Office can cite a lot of government support: the emirates’ capital is investing billions of dirhams in building infrastructure, creating free zones and developing tourism and leisure sectors to boost growth and diversify the economy – all this helps increase Abu Dhabi’s allure as an attractive investment destination for foreign investors.
In 2017, the emirate registered an FDI worth Dh108 billion – a 7.1 percent increase from the previous year. According to the results of an annual report on direct FDI into Abu Dhabi, real estate activities (including sales to non-residents) contributed the most to direct FDI in the years 2016 and 2017.
What positive outcomes lie ahead for visitors and exhibitors of this year’s Cityscape Abu Dhabi?
Real estate trade shows and exhibitions remain the most effective way to accentuate upcoming projects, establish new partnerships and meet with potential clients. This year, the range of exhibitors and visitors will span the full spectrum of the emirate’s real estate industry and Cityscape Abu Dhabi serves as a networking platform and investment conduit to seek our opportunities and partners.
On the networking and knowledge exchange side, the Cityscape Abu Dhabi conference is a great opportunity to hear industry leaders debate strategies and reveal insights on the real estate market in Abu Dhabi, the UAE and beyond. Informative, dedicated sessions will shed light on global, regional and local market conditions, what to expect in real estate and new technologies coming into the market. In addition, this year’s conference features government representatives who will outline the role of the real estate sector in Abu Dhabi’s wider economic diversification initiatives.