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  • Saudi group eyes Fannie Mae-style $1.1bn sukuk sale

    Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC) is planning to issue up to SR4 billion ($1.1 billion) of long-term sukuk which is being modelled on the lines of US mortgage finance firm Fannie Mae, reported Reuters citing its top official.
    The plan by SRC, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia's sovereign Public Investment Fund, comes as it prepares to purchase more home loan portfolios from mortgage financing companies and banks to boost the kingdom's secondary mortgage market.
    SRC, formed in 2017, is also keen to tap foreign institutional investors for its debt sale this year, stated CEO Fabrice Susini in an interview.
    "Our strategy is clearly to tap the market twice this year," he said. "We are really looking at probably issuing something between ... SR2 and SR4 billion that we may be issuing in two tranches," revealed Susini.
    He said SRC was looking at sukuk in the 10 to 15-year range, to help minimise refinancing risks. "Generally speaking we are trying to issue as long as possible," he added.
    Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company, said Susini, was assessing whether it could also issue bonds in currencies other than the local riyal.
    In March, SRC completed a SR750 million sukuk issue with multiple tenors, under a programme that allows it to issue up to SR11 billion of local currency denominated Islamic bonds, he added.
  • Grohe launches new ceramic bathroom line-up

    Germany-based Grohe, a leading global brand for complete bathroom solutions and kitchen fittings, has launched a new line of ceramic bathroom products.

    Based on the reduction to pure elegance, a bathroom design line has been created that exposes the beauty of ceramics presented in its purest form – Essence. The washbasins and vessel basins as well as toilets and bidets feature natural, delicate lines. As a full bathroom solutions supplier, Grohe will also be offering bathtubs as part of the new Essence ceramic line starting in April, completing its product portfolio.

    Subtlety, clarity and lightness are qualities that differentiate Essence. The design line’s characteristics are its gentle organic forms that are based on their reduction to the essentials. Simple, elegant ceramics solutions reflect the natural beauty’s spirit of time. The new vanity washbasin models are a highlight of the Essence design series. With a rim thickness of a mere 17 mm, they come with a particularly slim and smooth design. The overflow has been positioned opposite the faucet, complementing the harmonious look and design even in the smallest of details.

    The freely positionable wash bowls (available in oval or round designs starting in May 2019) feature a ceramic drain cap. These models come without an overflow. The toilets also fit seamlessly into the design series’ elegant look, thanks to their particularly slim toilet seats. These are available with or without the SoftClose feature. Essence, in line with the Grohe PerfectMatch philosophy, harmonises perfectly with the Grohe Atrio, Essence, Plus and Line are faucets and enables planners and installers to easily respond to individual customer requests without having to compromise when it comes to bathroom aesthetics.

    With the new Grohe Essence collection, for the first time, three versions of bathtubs are at the heart of the collection and complement the complete bathroom solution. Available for back to wall, build-in or freestanding installation, the Essence bathtubs are a design object in every bathroom. They too are characterized by the clear and sleek lines of the Grohe design.

    The tub models are made of high-quality titanium steel, which stores heat for an extended period of time, making bath time joys last even longer. In addition, the finish boasts a special coating that provides increased slip resistance and its Easy to Clean properties make it easier to clean the bathtub in everyday life.

    Essence series toilets come with rimless flushing technology, preventing bacteria from settling in angles and corners underneath the rim. The large flush requires 4.5 litres of water; the small flush is even more economical and only uses three litres of water. In addition, the Quick Release feature makes it easy to remove the toilet seat with just one hand. Depending on the model, the toilet seat is complemented by the comfortable SoftClose technology.

    Thanks to Grohe PureGuard, Essence features a strong and durable glossy finish. Special ions with antibacterial properties prevent bacterial growth and ensure a clean and germ-free ceramic surface. Deposits such as limescale and dirt can be easily removed.

    Designing individual bathroom is now even easier with the Grohe collections. Essence complements the existing Grohe Bau, Grohe Cube and Grohe Euro ceramic lines. The four design lines, each having their own distinctive character, meet everyone’s taste: whether it’s the natural elegance of Essence, the geometric minimalism of Cube, the flowing lines of Euroor the universal look of Bau. Another plus: Each of the Grohe bathroom ceramic products harmonises perfectly with the most popular Grohe faucet lines.

    Grohe’s recommended combinations not only make it easier to create a harmonious design in your own bathroom, they also offer the best possible water experience for the consumer, as faucet and ceramic perfectly match in form and function preventing unwanted water splashes when handwashing. – TradeArabia News Service

  • Dar Al Arkan set to redeem $400m Islamic bond

    Saudi  Arabia’s Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Company said it aims to redeem its $400-million sukuk (Islamic bond) by using internal cash reserves.
    The sukuk, listed on Irish Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Dubai on May 27, 2014, is set to mature on May 28. It was the seventh such issue by Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Company. 
    Over the last decade, Dar Al Arkan has issued nine international sukuks and post redemption of 2019 sukuk and Dar will continue to have $1 billion of sukuks, divided equally over the 2022 and 2023 maturities.
    The sukuk, listed on Irish Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Dubai, is due to mature on May 28, 2019.
    CEO Andy Raheja said: "Dar Al Arkan is in an enviable liquidity position at present, with cash and cash equivalents near SR5 billion, we plan to redeem the coming 2019 redemption out of cash reserves. Given the health of the business and our strong free cash flow conversion expectations, we see no immediate need to issue any new Sukuks for the foreseeable future."
    "We see our decision to pay down debt from cash reserves as a sign of confidence in our current strategy and belief in our ability to meet our commitments through operating cash flows," stated Raheja.
    "We are very proud of our relationship with global debt capital markets, and we expect our debt investors to see this redemption positively. We take this opportunity to thank them for their continued trust and support to the company, its board and its management," he added.-TradeArabia News Service
  • Emirates REIT posts 15.3pc income growth in 2018

    Emirates REIT, the world's largest Shari'a-compliant REIT, has recorded a year-on-year total property income growth of 15.3 per cent for one year ending December 31, 2018 to $69.9 million,  said Equitativa, the largest REIT manager in the GCC.

    The income growth was driven by a 35 per cent increase in annualized rent in Index Tower, it added.

    Index Tower’s occupancy has now reached 50 per cent, a significant increase from 2017.

    Following the acquisition of Lycée Français Jean Mermoz, a French curriculum school in Al Quoz, in the second quarter of 2018 and of three additional fully leased floors in Index Tower in December 2018, the Net Leaseable Area (NLA) for the period increased by 9.3 per cent to 223,192 m2 (2.4 million sq.ft.).

    Focusing on future growth, these strategic acquisitions will help prepare for further increase in revenue in the coming years.

    In the current challenging market, Emirates REIT recorded a 54.6 per cent drop in valuation gains due to a significant one-off provision on one of its assets.

    In 2018, Emirates REIT's asset value passed the $1 billion threshold for the first time, marking an increase of 6.4 per cent over the previous financial year.

    Sylvain Vieujot, CEO of Equitativa, commented: "Emirates REIT continues to deliver promising results to its shareholders, despite a challenging real estate market. Our focus on maintaining a high-quality diversified portfolio of real assets, and on enhancing the REIT’s rental revenues and improving its operational efficiencies, have proven to be a successful strategy in these challenging times.”

    Equitativa also reported that the Index Mall fit-out of the retail outlets is now completed and ready to open shortly, thereby connecting tenants and visitors to Index Tower directly to the DIFC’s Gate Avenue. – TradeArabia News Service

  • Saudi's Qassim Cement Q1 profit hits $15m

    Saudi-based Qassim Cement has registered a net profit of SR56 million ($15 million) for the first quarter, beating the estimates of NCB Capital, a Saudi Arabia-based wealth and asset manager.
    This earnings’ beat was driven by higher-than-expected selling prices, NCB Cap said, expecting improved selling prices to reflect positively on the whole industry.
    The Saudi company which has an authorised capital of SR900 million (divided into 90 million shares) produces three main types of cement: Ordinary Portland (OPC/Type I); Sulphate Resistant (SRC/Type V) and Limestone Cement.
    NCB Cap has cautioned that sales volumes will remain weak in H1 2019, which may pressure selling prices. 
    "Clear deadlines of domestic mega projects will represent a main catalyst for improved demand in the Kingdom," it added.-TradeArabia News Service
  • Sohar Freezone, RFX sign development pact

    Sohar Port and Freezone together with RFX Industrial parks have recently signed a development agreement encompassing 58 hectares within the Sohar Freezone, a media report said.

    This collaboration will see the development of turnkey, bespoke new built-to-lease logistics and light industrial units for tenants requiring modern accommodation within Sohar Freezone, reported Oman News Agency (ONA).

    Mark Geilenkirchen, CEO of Sohar Port and Freezone, said: “With several potential investments in the pipeline, Sohar is committed towards providing tenants with the best high quality services to ensure an unmatched business experience. Our partnership with RFX will see the creation of new and innovative methods to further support existing tenants, as well as encouraging newer ones to set up at the Port and Freezone.”

    The entire development will comprise up to 290,000 sq m of leasable space, which will offer various logistics size formats, including box and flex-log while also providing an easy solution of moving to larger units as tenant businesses expand.

    Phase One, which is due to commence construction in July 2019, will cover 10,000 sq m of leasable area and be available for occupancy by the end of the year.

    Mark Wrong, CEO of RFX commented, “We are delighted to be selected by Sohar as their development partner to deliver brand new bespoke logistics and light industrial facilities for businesses looking for modern rental accommodation in Sohar Freezone. With our flexible leasehold solutions, tenants at Sohar Freezone will be able to reduce their capital expenditure and benefit from high quality facilities and competitive market rents.”

  • Damac awards contracts worth $117m in Q1

    Dubai-based Damac Properties, a leading real estate developer, has announced the awarding of multiple contracts worth Dh430 million ($117 million) in the first quarter of 2019, as it moves ahead with key UAE projects.

    The contracts range from large construction works at Damac’s second master community, to final touch-ups for developments that are near completion in the UAE.

    Damac awarded 41 per cent of contracts for works at their master development Akoya, while16 per cent of contracts were awarded for Damac Hills. Consecutively, four per cent was awarded for the final works on Ghalia Tower, the first Sharia-compliant luxury furnished apartments, 12 per cent for the completion of Damac Towers by Paramount Hotels and Resorts, and 21 per cent more for other projects.

    Additionally, the developer has signed six per cent contracts, which cover feasibility studies on perspective projects and opportunities.

    Ali Sajwani, general manager of operations at Damac Properties, said: “There is a renewed sense of positivity in the UAE’s economy, spurred by dynamic government initiatives to diversify growth. These contracts are a sign that Damac is on board, as we continue to focus our efforts on timely handovers.”

    On the developer’s growth, Sajwani added, “For global citizens, Dubai is not just a place to grow professionally, but also an ideal destination to raise a family. As a perceptive real estate developer that evolves in tandem with its vibrant home city, we have amplified our focus on building holistic communities which attract a sizeable portion of Dubai’s diverse cultural and economic demographic; hence, over 50 per cent of these contracts were awarded towards our master community projects, with 97 per cent of contracts awarded within the UAE.”

    2018 was a busy year for Damac as it delivered 4,100 units, the highest number of units completed by the company within a calendar year. This year will see a slew of handovers including Ghalia Tower, which is expected to be handed over in the next 60 days.

    Specific clusters of Akoya will also be delivered in Q2 2019, whereas Q3 will see the final unveiling of Damac Towers by Paramount Hotels and Resorts Dubai, which started welcoming residents in 2018. Aykon City, one of Damac’s largest master developments in the heart of Dubai, is rapidly rising above ground and is expected to be ready by 2021, with 15 floors of Tower B already completed. – TradeArabia News Service

  • 20 projects shortlisted for 2019 Aga Khan Award

    The 20 shortlisted projects for the 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture were announced today in Kazan at an exhibition on the awards. Among them were the Bahrain's Revitalisation of Muharraq, Oman's Muttrah Fish Market in Muscat and Sharjah's Wasit Wetland Centre.

    The expo was inaugurated by Rustam Minnikhanov, President of the Republic of Tatarstan.  The shortlisted projects, which are located in 16 different countries, will compete for $1 million in prize money.

    President Minnikhanov welcomed the decision of the Award’s Steering Committee to host the prestigious prize-giving ceremony in the historic city of Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation, in the autumn of 2019.

     In January, an independent master jury reviewed hundreds of nominations. The 20 shortlisted projects are now undergoing rigorous investigations by a team of experts who visit and evaluate each project onsite.

    Their reports are the basis for the Master Jury’s selection of the eventual laureates. It should be noted that projects commissioned by the Aga Khan or any of the institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) are ineligible for the Award. To be eligible for consideration in the 2019 Award cycle, projects had to be completed between 1 January 2012 and 31 December 2017, and should have been in use for at least one year.

    The 20 shortlisted projects are:


    Revitalisation of Muharraq, offers testimony on the pearl trade in the Arabian Peninsula over the centuries, especially when Bahrain thrived during the 19th century.


    Arcadia Education Project, in South Kanarchor, a modular amphibious structure –incorporating space for a preschool, a hostel, a nursery and a vocational training centre – which is tied down on a riverine site that is often flooded for five months every year.
    Amber Denim Loom Shed, in Gazipur, a new design that combines traditional Bangladeshi residential architecture and contemporary elements in a large open space that accommodates machines, a buyers’ lounge, a dining space, a prayer area and washrooms.


    Courtyard House Plugin, in Beijing, a prefabricated modular system first developed as a prototype for installation within courtyard houses in the traditionally Muslim district of Dashilar, which is home to communities who do not have the means to renovate.


    Tadjourah SOS Children's Village, a design based on a traditional medina and a layout of narrow streets that maximises shade and ventilation while providing shelter for the most vulnerable in society.


    Warka Water, a prototype first implemented in Dorza, consists of an elegant triangular frame made out of local bamboo that encloses a thin polyester mesh – which captures droplets from high humidity in the air.


    Enghelab Street Rehabilitation, in Tehran, encompasses both the rehabilitation of the façades of 114 existing buildings and the creation of public cultural space between the national theatre and opera house.


    Taman Bima Microlibrary, in Bandung, aims to help combat Indonesia’s low literacy rates by adding a microlibrary above a pre-existing stage used for community events.
    AM Residence, in Jakarta, a design inspired by Indonesian vernacular stilt houses that favour natural ventilation; walls are minimised and windows kept simple for a seamless interior-to-exterior relationship.


    Jarahieh School, in Al-Marj, which provides educational facilities for children from 300 Syrian refugee families, creates a hub for community activities and offers the settlement’s only secure shelter in the event of snowstorm or earthquake.


    Muttrah Fish Market, in Muscat, which highlights the region’s trade and fishing traditions while also catering to Oman’s growing tourism industry.


    Palestinian Museum, in Birzeit, which crowns a terraced hill overlooking the Mediterranean and is the recipient of the LEED Gold certification because of its sustainable construction.


    Msheireb Museums, in Doha, which incorporates four historic courtyard houses dating from the early 20th century that together comprise an element of the cultural development of downtown Doha.

    Russian Federation

    Tatarstan Public Spaces Development Programme, a programme that, to date, has improved 328 public spaces all over Tatarstan in areas ranging from major cities to small villages.


    Alioune Diop University Lecture Building in Bambey, where a scarcity of resources led to the use of bioclimatic strategies: a large double roof canopy and latticework that avoids direct solar radiation but allows air to flow through it.


    Beyazıt State Library Renovation, in Istanbul, the renovation of a 19th century library – housed within a 16th century building – that displays rare manuscripts and architectural heritage.


    Ashinaga Uganda Dormitory, in Nansana, a residential school that prepares outstanding students from sub-Saharan Africa for entry into higher education.

    United Arab Emirates

    Concrete at Alserkal Avenue, in Dubai, the major element of a former industrial complex that has been transformed into a cultural hub.

    Al Mureijah Art Spaces, in Sharjah, the renovation of five dilapidated buildings that offered the perfect urban and architectural setting for a contemporary art venue.

    Wasit Wetland Centre, in Sharjah, a design that transforms a wasteland into a wetland and functions as a catalyst for biodiversity and environmental education. – TradeArabia News Service

  • Dilmunia ready for developers

    Ithmaar Development Company (IDC), the main authority behind the landmark Dilmunia Project, has completed the Phase Three infrastructural works for the $1.6-billion project, according to Mohamed Abdulrahman, manager, ID Capital.

    “So, infrastructure work-wise we have reached the Phase Three of the project,” he said at the Gulf Property Show 2019 and added: “The island is pretty much ready … now it is up to the developers to develop the rest of the project.”

    Dilmunia Project is a mixed-use development being built on a man-made island off the coast of Muharraq with a unique health and wellness anchor including residences, a hotel and leisure element and shopping districts anchored around a health and wellness cluster.

    Giving an update on the construction of the project, Abdulrahman said that Dilmun has at present completed the construction of two main residential buildings and all the individual houses as per the construction timeline.

    “We have the shopping mall opening at the end of the year, so that will give a huge boost to the development of retail services on the island,” he added, referring to the opening of Mall of Dilmunia, a family-centric and entertainment facility which is set to open by the end of 2019.

    According to Abdulrahman, IDC is now looking to sell small plots of land of 500 to 700 sq m for residential houses on the man-made island in addition to plots of land suitable for a marina; a hotel and retail services.

    Dilmunia offers a range of residential and commercial amenities, with developments completed including The Treasure by Bin Faqeeh Development Company, The Essence of Dilmunia by Ahmed Al Qaed Group, and Seavilla by IDC.

    Projects under construction include: CanalView by Naseej, The Hanging Gardens by Ahmed Al Qaed Group, Al Tijaria resort project (The Commercial Real Estate Development Company) and the Mall of Dilmunia.

    The development of the ambitious 125-hectare man-made island is being managed by IDC, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ithmaar Bank, a Bahrain-based Islamic retail bank with its shares traded on the Bahrain Bourse, Dubai Financial Market and the Kuwait Stock Exchange. Ithmaar Bank is also the investment manager of Dilmunia Development Fund. - TradeArabia News Service

  • Bahrain Marina focuses on residences

    Bahrain Marina, an iconic development on the eastern coastline of the capital Manama, has returned to the Gulf Property Show 2019 for the third consecutive year as its Diamond Sponsor.

    Bahrain Marina is a mixed-use development that aims to add a new distinctive waterfront to the kingdom’s pristine coastline in Manama.

    The new destination will include a five-star hotel, suites, waterfront villas and freehold apartments, a fully-integrated family entertainment centre, cinema complex, boardwalk, marina, yacht club and a recreational waterfront space with dining and retail facilities.

    Commenting on the show, a spokeswoman for Bahrain Marina Development Company, said: “Gulf Property Show is a great platform; the number of visitors, the exposure you get and the organisation are key factors why Bahrain Marina keeps on coming back to the show.”

    She said at the show in 2017, the company revealed the masterplan for the project to gain interest, with the 2018 event continuing to consolidate efforts towards this end.

    “This year we are focusing on the residential building, the Bahrain Marina Residence, showcasing various types of residences offered.  The highlight of this year is the real-time visualisation experience (via a large video screen at the stand) for the three types of homes – the apartments, the water villas and the townhouses.  The whole idea is to give visitors a full experience of the residences,” the spokeswoman said.

    The residential complex comprises three towers, offering apartments, penthouses, water villas and townhouses, each offered in three to four-bedroom configurations. All Bahrain Marina residences have been thoughtfully designed and built to ensure a comfortable modern lifestyle that focuses on beautiful views, either overlooking the marina, the sea or a scenic centrally-positioned courtyard.
    The water villas feature dedicated mooring facilities to enable occupants to have direct boat access to their homes.

    Piling work, being undertaken by Bahrain Foundation Construction Company (BFCC), is currently in progress on Phase One of the development and is scheduled for completion in August this year. Phase One comprises the retail facilities and the marina.

    The second phase – which includes the residential complex and the five-star hotel with a private beach and unique waterfront, operated by Hong Kong- based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts – is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2022. - TradeArabia News Service

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