Volume 10 appendix: defying the downturn

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There can be few areas of the world that show so clearly the dangers of over-development than the skyline of Dubai, which once had the highest concentration of construction cranes in the world. Today, the cranes are idle, the market has stalled and there is a new mood of sobriety.

The importance of local knowledge 14 of 15 Panellists 12 of 15

Residents of the United States, please read this important information before proceeding

Please read this important information before proceeding.

“Just a couple of years ago, anyone could buy a piece of land and become a developer,” says Ahmed Al Hatti, Chairman of Cayan Property, a leading regional construction company. “Today, everything has changed. It is much more focused on quality of project, location and the developer’s previous projects. But for established, successful developers with a good track record, there are good opportunities.”

In an environment where developers have slowed down, closed or indeed gone under, Cayan is still expanding and recruiting. Cayan is focusing a lot of attention on the Saudi market, which Mr Al Hatti believes has many interesting characteristics, including demographics. “There is a population of around 27m people with some 40 per cent of the population under the age of 15,” he says. “As a result, there is a big demand for accommodation and a government that is working hard to develop the mortgage market.”

The demographic and regulatory changes currently underway in Saudi Arabia could represent a valuable opportunity for investors. In a report published in late 2008, Jones Lang LaSalle forecast significant growth in both the residential and commercial sectors in the country. They highlighted a number of important drivers of growth, including new mortgage laws aimed at solving the current lack of mortgage finance and extending home ownership, a shortage of residential units and growth rates in the office sector that are ahead of those in other GCC countries.