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Dubailand project continues as it adapts to new market realities

Developers bring pace in line with current economic conditions

Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon /Gulf News
The Definitely Dubai exhibit was a hive of activity at the Arabian Travel Market 2010. Rather than forcing third-partydevelopers to surge ahead, Dubai Properties Group worked out a new timeline and negotiated payment plans.
Gulf News

Dubai : The global economic crisis was an opportunity for Dubailand to reprioritise and restructure the massive project and bring it in line with new realities without cancelling any projects, a senior official said.

"The future depends on market conditions. Dubailand is a huge destination and so it is good that the crisis slowed things down, giving us the time to know what components we need and plan it properly and realistically," Khalid Al Malek, chief executive officer of Dubai Properties Group (DPG), told Gulf News.

Dubailand covers 2 billion square feet and $5 billion (Dh18.3 billion) worth of development on both sides of Emirates Road.

The project continues to move ahead, although the pace of development may not be as frenetic as in the past. The Global Village, Dubai Sports City, Outlet Mall, Al Sahra Desert Resort and Motor City have already emerged out of the desert.

"We have so many sub-developers and yes, some wanted to quit because of financial problems or otherwise. In such cases, the contract clauses would apply. But we have few defaults and resolved most issues amicably," Al Malek said.

Rather than forcing third-party developers to surge ahead, DPG sat down with them and worked out a new timeline and negotiated payment plans for land, he said.

"The objective is to complete the projects. But our obligation is balance, taking market demands into account. We can't force a developer to build for the sake of it," Al Malek said.

The master-developer continues to put the infrastructure in place for those who want to proceed. Mizin's Arjan, Liwan and Majan projects, launched in 2006, have slowed down, with only a couple of projects in each development moving ahead.

There seems to be a fresh impetus with some obtaining their building permits this year.

"We continue to be dedicated to infrastructure. And even the master plans are still there. For example, it would be a shame to change Mudon's beautiful plan. It is simply a question of building it in phases," Al Malek said.

Mudon will eventually take up over 70 million square feet depicting Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Cairo.

"All projects will continue, but our focus has been and is on those developments where we have obligations to the customer to make them an attractive place to live in. Mudon hadn't been sold yet," Al Malek said, explaining the slow pace.

The focus is on completing Mizin's Remra'am and The Villa. The Al Waha and Layan residences have been handed over or leased out, but retail components are to be added. Other projects under construction include the City of Arabia, Dubai Lifestyle City, Palmarosa, Al Barari and the Taleem Beacon Education project.

As far as Dubai Golf City is concerned, DPG is demanding to see the Tiger Woods golf course kick into action. When to sell and complete the surrounding residential part is up to the sub-developer, Al Malik said.

Even the Al Bawadi strip of hotels and entertainment venues will one day fill up, but the developer again will base what's coming up on market needs, he said.

"Eventually we need more attractions for tourists coming in so they have the best of destinations to visit. We can create events along the strip and intend to keep working on attracting more investors into Dubailand," Al Malek said.

Theme parks still on the list include Universal Studios, Six Flags and Legoland, he said.

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