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Cityscape Market Intelligence Service report looks at emerging markets — India top overall rankings

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Middle Eastern developers looking to expand and diversify their interests outside the region have been given a boost by a new report commissioned by Cityscape Market Intelligence Service (CMIS) and launched at Cityscape Dubai 2007, a global B2B real estate show.

The Market: Real Estate 2007, published by Oxford Business Group (OBG), has been hailed as a groundbreaking guide for real estate investors in 23 emerging markets in Asia and Africa, as well as the Middle East.

The report, available at Cityscape Dubai 2007 in Dubai International Exhibition Centre and via a new online subscription service from CMIS, has ranked emerging markets according to investment opportunities in residential, commercial, hospitality and retail development.

Topping the overall rankings was India, with the Philippines in second place, Turkey third and Morocco and Egypt placed fourth and fifth, respectively. Saudi Arabia was identified as the strongest investment prospect in the Arabian Gulf, while Syria presents a “notable opportunity” for hotel and tourism development.

“It is not necessary that countries be wealthy to perform strongly,” said the authors of the report.

“That India ranks first in three of our four indices, and second in the fourth is unlikely to surprise most people working in the Gulf, who are able to see India’s market potential and attractive, well-designed investment context,” said OBG consultant Kate Godfrey.

“What the OBG indices do show, however, is that there are other sizeable and investment-friendly markets that have attracted less global attention. The position of the Philippines at the top of our residential rankings will be a surprise to many, but strong growth combines with a population of over 90 million and GDP per capita approaching that of such oil-rich states as Libya.

“Growth in its residential and commercial markets has been exceptional, but international developers have been put off by continued restrictions on land ownership. The Philippines government is now in negotiations with a number of Gulf developers and OBG would hope to see a project on a large scale announced soon.”

The OBG report for CMIS follows the latest Jones Lang LaSalle Global Real Estate Capital report that indicates Middle Eastern cross-border investment increased 47 per cent to US$8 billion globally in the first half of 2007, with a marked preference for hospitality and commercial sectors and a general shift in investors’ focus away from traditional European and US markets to the emerging Asian and African markets covered in the OBG study for CMIS.

“The largest developers are now perfecting criteria for selecting markets, in some cases building complex models to help them understand potential in highly variable situations,” said Godfrey.

“Availability of land is one of the key factors taken into consideration, and probably more than anything else, defines the countries and large-scale projects under development, with the emphasis on hospitality and resort development made easier by the availability of large tracts of coastal land, particularly in North Africa.

“The great progress made with the liberalisation of investment laws across the region means that barriers to entry are disappearing rapidly,” she added.

Rohan Marwaha, group director of Cityscape for organisers IIR Middle East, said the findings of The Market: Real Estate 2007 are a boost for Middle Eastern developers and for the Cityscape brand.

“The research conducted by Oxford Business Group for Cityscape Market Intelligence Service uncovers a world of possibilities – and a few pleasant surprises – for Middle Eastern investors who have the cash to deploy and a better idea now of where to deploy it.

“Based on the conclusions of the report, we would hope to see many more exhibitors from these emerging markets participating in future Cityscape exhibitions in order to exploit the huge opportunities that exist for cross-border investment.”

Cityscape Dubai 2007, which concluded at Dubai International Exhibition Centre on 18 October 18, had attendance by regional and international investors, property developers, governmental and development authorities, leading architects, designers, consultants and industry professionals.

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