Cityscape Global Directer Walter Molman on this year's show

In Depth – We Speak with Cityscape Global Director, Wouter Molman

With just a couple of weeks to go until Cityscape Global opens its doors at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre spoke with the shows Director, Wouter Molman in detail about the changes to this year’s show, what we can expect and how the industry has changed in the past few years.

How has Cityscape Global evolved over the past three years since the downturn in the market?

On the exhibition side, over the past three years Cityscape Global has gradually been attracting an increasing amount of international exhibitors looking to tap into the Gulf region for potential investors. This year, nearly 50% of the exhibition space will be occupied by international exhibitors, with pavilions from countries including Turkey, Russia, Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, UK and India.

This transition toward being a more global real estate event is following the repositioning strategy two years ago. Cityscape Dubai was rebranded to Cityscape Global to recognize international appeal of the event, and we are now really seeing the results.

This repositioning has allowed Cityscape to constantly keep abreast of the changing international real estate market and launch new initiatives alongside the show ensuring the event keeps the ‘fresh’ feel. 2012 has seen the introduction of the Country of Honour where Turkey have been positioned to emphasise their growing dominance in  the real estate market due to the recent reciprocity law attracting keen attention from international investors. This new initiative allows Cityscape Global to evolve with the market highlighting new regions of grown and interest to our event participants.

Having said that, confidence in the local real estate market is also increasing, and this is reflected by the amount of UAE based developers participating at this year’s show looking to showcase their most recent real estate project updates and launches – watch this space.

As a result, the Cityscape Global exhibition has grown by over 50% this year, which is a testament to the strength of the Cityscape brand as well as the growing confidence in Dubai as a leading business hub for emerging markets globally.

There have also been some significant developments over the past three years for the Cityscape Global conferences. Cityscape Global will host three dedicated conferences that reflect the changing dynamics of the current global real estate market.

The Global Real Estate Summit, Retail City, and the World Architecture Congress will spotlight the latest news, analysis and insight on the world’s foremost real estate markets, involving the most influential and respected leaders in the industry.

All of the big players in the UAE market, DAMAC Properties, Emaar and Nakheel have remained big supporters of the show. What role do they play in the industry and how important is it to support them while also expanding globally?

UAE developers, both big and small players alike will continuously play a crucial role in the development of Cityscape Global and of course their participation in the show is always highly valued.

Within the local real estate sector, it is important that the big names continue to propel the industry forward, as they set the benchmark and are essentially the measuring barometer of how well the industry is performing. 

While Cityscape Global is become more popular with international exhibitors, it will still always remain a ‘Dubai’ show and is the ideal platform for local players to drive growth in real estate investment and development both in emerging markets within the Middle East and globally. In that sense, supporting local players whilst also expanding globally go hand in hand, with the local developers benefiting from this further widespread awareness generated from the international investors looking to the event as a ‘shop window’ for international real estate investment opportunities.

How would you explain the importance of exhibitions at a time when more business is going online. How do you stay relevant?

While online commerce continues to gain traction, the face-to-face element of events will ensure it will always continue to have a unique benefit over any other means of conducting business.  Having said that, Cityscape Global embraces the online and digital age and we have incorporated several online campaigns in our communications strategies with exhibitors and visitors including business matching services, and native mobile applications.

We look to integrate these new technologies that become available with Cityscape events to further enhance our participant’s experiences, promoting further business interaction before the start of the event, and long after the doors close.

2012 will see the launch of the new Cityscape Global business matching service myCityscape, connecting exhibitors to pre-registered visitors allowing them to network and arrange their time during the event in a much more effective and efficient manner, by pre-scheduling meetings online with potential clients and investors.

To support this initiative, we have also introduced a mobile application allowing the audience to download a specific Cityscape app to their phone. The app lets users connect with each other during the show, keeping constant contact for organising and rescheduling meetings whilst in the exhibition halls. Directly linked to the business matching service, the app ensures participants take full advantage of the business opportunities on offer at Cityscape Global 2012.

What key developments are needed at UAE Government level to ensure the Dubai property market remains strong?

There has been a lot of talk about introducing a long term property visa, and this certainly wouldn’t harm investor confidence in the Dubai property market, however there have been some mixed views on how strong the impact of such a regulation (once implemented) will be.

The market is also now awaiting a new set of regulations to be implemented by the Dubai Land Department, which will protect investors from delays and unilateral changes to the real estate projects they have invested in, allowing them to get their money back when developers violate the terms and conditions. This will further improve transparency and investor confidence in the Dubai real estate market.

Can you share some statistics on how the market is currently?

According to the Jones Lang LaSalle’s Dubai Real Estate Market Overview Q2 2012, the signs are that Dubai’s real estate sector is set for double digit growth in the next three years, due to a constant stream of fresh project handovers across the commercial, residential and hospitality sectors.

In the residential sector, 6,000 units were completed in the first six months of 2012, bringing the total number of residential units in Dubai to 344,000.  A further 24,000 residential units are expected to be delivered for the remainder of 2012, while another 15,000 units should be ready for handover in 2013 and 2014, presenting a supply increase of 11 per cent from the current amount of stock.

Office space in Dubai is also expected to increase by 24 per cent by the end of 2013, reaching 7.2 million square metres. The emirate is likely to add an extra 1.1 million sq m to the current 6.1 million sq m, though it must be mentioned there is currently 2.2 million sq m of office space currently on hold.

Meanwhile, the hospitality sector in Dubai continues to show no signs of slowing down, with the opening of Millennium Plaza on Sheikh Zayed Road, the Rixos The Palm, and the Melia Bur Dubai in the first half of this year adding a further 850 hotel rooms to Dubai’s booming tourism industry, amounting to a total of 54,300 rooms. Another 11,300 rooms are expected to be injected by the end of 2014, up 20 per cent from the current amount of rooms.

Residential, hospitality and retail sectors all are generally expected to have bottomed out, with villas and apartments showing a double digit growth on 2008 levels. Over the first half of 2012, the Dubai Land Department reported just under 19,000 land transactions totalling US$ 1.7 billion, up 21 percent on the same period last year.

Cityscape Global takes place from 2 – 4 October 2012 at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Dubai Property Invest will be at Cityscape all three days bringing the latest news and updated from the developers

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