The Al Futtaim Group has secured partial financing for the Dubai Festival City Centre, a two-million-square-foot real estate development.

"This financing, arranged and syndicated by National Bank of Dubai [NBD], with participation from leading regional and international banks, is unique in terms of both its size and complexity.

"This financing will go towards the Festival Centre, the core component of the Dubai Festival City development," Omar Al Futtaim, the Al Futtaim Group's chief executive, said yesterday.

The Al Futtaim Group is developing the 640-hectare Festival City project. The agreement represents the single largest financing deal for any component of Dubai Festival City.

It ranks as one of the largest syndicated real estate project financing deals in the emirate.

Set to open in September 2006, the Festival Centre is located on a waterfront marina at Dubai Festival City.

It will be a lifestyle, retail, and entertainment development, comprising a high street boulevard with over 450 stores, a canal walk, cafés and several themed waterfront pavilions.

"This transaction is a demonstration of NBD's commitment to take a leading role in structuring and arranging financing for high quality projects in Dubai.

"This project will be important for the region, and it will further emphasise Dubai's status as the pre-eminent tourist destination and business hub in the Middle East," said Omran Sultan Al Owais, Managing Director of the National Bank of Dubai.

National Bank of Dubai served as lead arranger and facility agent for the instrument. The Arab Bank and Barclays Bank were co-arrangers.

Clifford Chance acted as legal advisers to the financing banks.