Architecture
News and information on the latest architectural delight to enter the real estate market worldwide. Read our latest news and articles on what is happening with odd and strange looking architecture from around the world.

2006 has been another formative year for property investment markets, with the likes of Bulgaria and Dubai dominating media coverage and experiencing phenomenal popularity. However, as they edge ever closer to their saturation peaks and 2006 draws to a close, investors are setting their sights on new property markets. With the number of budget airlines escalating, an increasingly wealthy ageing population and an escalating number of first time buyers attempting to get their foot on the ladder abroad, sales and growth in international property investment are likely to soar in 2007. Property Frontiers expect that 2007 will also see the market segment between lifestyle and pure investment purchases.

As previously mentioned, we predict that next year may pose substantial risks to the popular locations of 2006. The final quarter of next year will see a large proportion of Dubai’s off-plan properties complete, adding substantial stock to Dubai’s rental market. The current imbalance with limited supply and extensive demand may begin to equalise or even reverse. Much depends on the Emirate’s ability to continue attracting expatriate workers and other visitors over the next year. It is possible that the market will absorb the increase in property stock, but equally, the Dubai dream may begin to falter. Investors considering buying in this Arab Emirate should therefore be especially prudent before purchasing.

Similarly, Bulgaria’s exclusivity has been somewhat exhausted in the last 12 months. According to A Place in the Sun’s Hot Property Index, Bulgaria is now the number one place to invest ahead of both Spain and France. However, questions must be raised about whether Bulgaria has been overdeveloped and how much longer its investment bubble can withstand the market’s mounting pressure. We seriously question the market fundamentals in Bulgaria as prices have been pushed excessively high over the last 6 months of 2006. 2007 could well be the year in which a substantial and painful correction occurs.

The investment fever which swamped Bulgaria has however highlighted a region which continues to promise great investment potential – Eastern Europe. Its relative underdevelopment, low property prices, rapid GDP growth and increasing employment figures mean property values in countries such as Poland are set to rise rapidly over the next few years. Since joining the EU in 2004, FDI in Polish cities has risen continually and a palpable urbanisation ensued. The country currently attracts $6.5 bn of foreign investment per year and, as a result, is now ranked 5th in the World FDI Confidence Index. The rise in FDI is indicative of the country’s growing popularity, the confidence investors have in the market and intimates the future strength of Poland’s investment market.

Similar trends are likely to occur in Slovakia, Slovenia and the Baltic states. Slovakia, ideally located in Central Europe has one of the fastest-growing economies in the region and was nominated by the World Bank in 2004 as having the most rapidly improving investment climate globally. Real Estate investments in the capital Bratislava are stable and predictable and growth and demand are greater than the national and regional averages. Equally, the Tatras mountain regions offer excellent conditions for growth although at present the letting market is limited to ski resorts. Demand is set to stay higher than supply due to Slovakia’s strict protection rules for national park areas which cover much of the country’s ski zones

Another area likely to gain increased credibility as an investment hub is Asia. China‘s status as one of the World’s fastest growing economy (economic growth is expected to grow at around 10% per year in the near future) is having a huge knock on affect on various countries around it  namely Thailand and Malaysia with their rapidly growing middle classes. New areas to watch include Japan which is set to continue on its expansion voyage due to increased investment from small firms which should result in job growth, despite lagging consumption and Vietnam. Vietnam is considered by some to be the new ‘emerging China’ and will join the WTO on the 11th January next year.

As the third largest economy in the world we expect foreign investment in Germany to flourish next year. Relatively few Germans are home owners and as a result, consistently high rental yields can be counted on especially in the major cities. The full growth potential of the German economy may soon be realised as structural reforms such as Hartz IV are implemented. Germany’s GDP should reach 2.5% this year and the OECD estimates that this economic rebound will continue well into 2008 making Germany one of Europe’s hottest long-term investment hotspots.

Home to Panama, Costa Rica and Brazil, Central America boasts more of the world’s key emerging markets. Brazil especially is of significant interest for investors looking to take advantage of a relatively young market. Goldman Sachs predicts that it will be the world’ s fifth largest economy by 2035 and with increasingly frequent direct flights and extensive coastland available for development, Brazil is a very promising investment destination. What is more, the country, now home to a million millionaires, clearly has an increasingly affluent population which is another fact which should appeal to potential investors.

A short journey north from Central America takes us to another large growth market ” The Caribbean. Seen by many as the ultimate lifestyle second home destination, the spice islands are also an exciting investment hotspot with numerous new 5-star hotel and villa complexes being built on previously undeveloped islands such as Grenada and St Lucia.

Despite the complexities and considerations that must be taken into account when investing abroad, the number of opportunities continue to increase. And if investment is all about timing, then this greater choice means that 2007 will offer many opportunities to get your timing just right.

Source: Property Frontiers

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PROPERTY transaction centres in Shanghai now require foreigners to show immigration records when buying homes to prove that they have lived on the Chinese mainland for more than a year, the Oriental Morning Post reported today.

China unveiled a string of new policies in July to restrict overseas property investment on concerns of that an influx of foreign capital would aggravate speculation in the domestic housing market.

Under the new policies, foreigners can’t buy homes or apartments on the mainland until they’ve been here at least a year. Those who meet the residency rules must purchase property only for their own use and cannot lease it to others.

Shanghai property transaction centers can make up own rules on trading on the basis of these policies, according to Shanghai Municipal Housing, Land and Resource Administration Bureau.

Four Shanghai districts, Jing’an, Xuhui, Baoshan and Pudong New Area, have banned foreigners and overseas Chinese from buying second homes within their jurisdictions since October.

Among other measures, overseas institutions and individuals that want to purchase property for purposes other than their own use must set up a company in China, according to a joint circular issued by six government agencies.

Source: Shanghai Daily

A Saudi prince has already snapped up the tower’s penthouse.

Whatever next for the Arabian city that has an artificial ski slope covered in snow even when the temperature hits 50C? Not to mention the world’s tallest building, some 700 metres (2,300 ft) high, rising above palm-shaped artificial archipelagos in the warm waters of the Persian Gulf. Oh, and a growth rate of 16% and a population where foreigners in need of “luxury” homes outnumber locals.

Well, what about the world’s first rotating skyscraper?

Commissioned by the Dubai Property Ring, a firm of UK-based developers, the 30-storey apartment block will use solar energy to power 20 electric motors that will rotate the tower through 360 degrees over the course of a week.”This will be a fair building,” says Nick Cooper, the British engineer working with MG Bennet and Associates of Rotherham, which will build the mechanism. “Everybody will have the same views for the same amount of time.”

Mr Cooper is not referring to “fair” as in “funfair” – though the building is, it has to be said, the spectacular proposed centrepiece of the giant City of Arabia amusement park, complete with animatronic dinosaurs, which is due to open in 2009.

Time Residences will comprise 200 apartments. Its 80,000-tonne bulk will rest on a series of more or less friction-free polymer bearings. “It moves very slowly,” says Mr Cooper. “It is not a theme park ride.”

Will it work? Cooper has previously designed the drilling machine that bored for England and France beneath the Channel, allowing Eurostar trains to race between London and Paris. He has also designed a giant rotating rock-crushing machines for use in mines. Getting a 30-storey building to turn slowly should be a doddle. And, Cooper claims, the power required to make it spin should be no more than is needed to boil 21 electric kettles.

Rotating parts of buildings is nothing new: London’s Post Office tower, featuring one of the world’s first rotating restaurants (with a very British catering service ,provided by Butlins), opened in 1966. But, this side of an observatory, getting a whole building to turn around its axis is something else – a case of a “white hot” sixties technological dream realised in a blazing hot emirate half a century on.

The £41m building is designed by British architects at Glenn Howells Associates, the company currently converting the Birmingham Rotunda into a block of 230 flats, and the Dubai city developers Palmer and Turner.

It will be capped with a crescent-shaped Moon Lounge, which will feature a theatre and an observatory. From here, future residents may just be able to catch glimpses of the further 23 rotating towers the Dubai Property Ring plans to build in cities around the world – one for every time zone. The idea is enough to make anyone dizzy.

Source: Guardian Unlimited

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Interesting article from Peter Conradi Editor of Times Online Overseas section and Overseas Property Weblog. To view the full article click here or read below: Almost a year ago in this column, I sang the praises of Shanghai as a destination for the foreign property investor. China’s commercial capital appeared to have it all: some spectacular modern developments, high capital growth, decent rental returns all underpinned by one of the world’s most dynamic economies.

It was not, to put it mildly, the most prescient of pieces. The ink on the page was barely dry when the Chinese government stepped in with a raft of “market-cooling” measures that triggered a collapse almost overnight of as much as 20% in the price of some properties turning potential paper profits into immediate losses.

Like others selling property in the city, Dominic Keogh, managing director of the London office of agent Shanghai Vision, is putting a brave face on developments.

Prices, he insisted last week, have been recovering in the months since the crash and, in most cases, are back to their previous highs. The future prospects continue to be good, thanks to the growth of the Chinese economy and continuing shift of population into the cities. “Last year, 500,000 more people moved into Shanghai alone,” he says. “Even for a city of 17.5 million, that is a very big number.”

China is not the only property hot spot that has been given British property investors pause for thought in recent months: in Dubai, another favourite with foreign buyers, there have been gloomy predictions of a glut in property and perhaps even falling prices when the latest wave of new flat developments comes on stream next year.

As for the even more heavily hyped Bulgaria, the merest mention of Sunny Beach or one of the other Black Sea resorts is enough to prompt knowing looks from those in the trade.

Underlying it all is the growing question mark over the biggest one of them all: the US property market. After five years of unremitting growth which has seen prices increasing by an average 50% and doubling in some of the hottest citiesthere are signs the boom times may soon be over: sales have been falling, while repossessions and stocks of unsold houses are growing.

America’s authoritative National Association of Realtors has predicted a soft landing, much as we have seen in Britain in recent years, with annual growth set to slow to a more sustainable 5%.

Pessimists predict a crash, which, given the amount of money tied up in the US property market and the scary levels of household debt, could bring down not just the American economy, but also the global one as a whole.

Setting aside such doomsday scenarios, what is really going on? And what lessons should be drawn from it by the small property investor, looking to put his or her hard-earned cash into an investment property abroad? Liam Bailey, head of residential research at estate agency Knight Frank, which has just launched the first global house-price index, believes the international property boom, which spread from Britain and Ireland across the world in the late 1990s as interest rates fell, is drawing to a close. Average prices, according to its weighed index, rose 6.6% in the first quarter of this year – against 9.3% a year earlier.

“There is undoubtedly a slowing down and overall prices are growing less quickly than they were last year,” says Bailey. “But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t scope for growth in certain areas over time.”

So where has been doing well? Estonia, the Baltic tiger with one of Europe’s fastest growing economies, heads Knight Frank’s list, up 17%, with New Zealand, Bulgaria and South Africa all in double figures although the latter two have slowed down appreciably compared.

More unexpected, perhaps, are the second place for Denmark (up 16.1%) and seventh place for Ireland (up 10.7%), especially since prices in both have been accelerating rather than slowing this year. This is all the more surprising in the case of Ireland, given the amount by which the market has already gone up.

Where those investing should put their money is more difficult, since past performance is, of course, not a guide to future profits. As well as Estonia, and the neighbouring Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania, Bailey fancies Germany – particularly the southern regions of the western part. After stagnating and even falling for several years, prices have shown modest gains this year, with more to come, he predicts, as the German economy continues its export-led recovery.

To Bailey’s list, one could add Romania, Thailand, Turkey, Bali and, for the really adventurous, even Argentina and Brazil. As for China, though, I think it would be best if I kept my predictions to myself.

Doha – Two Qatari property developers on Sunday unveiled a $5bn tourism project, adding to a slew of major investments underway in the gas-rich Gulf emirate.

The complex is to include two hotels, a marina, chalets, “abstract-design” gardens and sports facilities on an area of almost eight million square metres according to Ghanem al-Saad, chairperson of Barwa, one of the developers.

The project in Al-Khor on Qatar’s northeastern coast will take about five years to finish, according to a statement issued by Barwa and its partner Diar.

Diar has already announced plans to build a new residential and leisure city called Lusail at a cost of more than $6bn.

Qatar, which has a population of 750 000, of whom only 150 000 are nationals, says it has nearly $50bn worth of infrastructure projects underway.

Record-high energy prices over the past few years have fueled a real estate development frenzy across the Gulf Arab states with countries competing to unveil the biggest and boldest projects.

The UAE’s Dubai, which is by far leading the development craze, announced plans last week to build the world’s largest hotel strip at a cost of $27.2bn rivaling that of famed US gambling town Las Vegas.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, announced in December plans to build the King Abdullah Economic City on its western coast at a cost of $26bn.

Source: FIN24.co.za

Dubai Lagoon, the 3 billion AED high watermark of living, announced their launch of the second phase of the contemporary property development based in the heart of new Dubai. Targeted at middle income, the Lagoon development is well located for the new airport and minutes from two main highways, Dubailand, Dubai Sports City and Dubai Knowledge Village.

The second phase boasts studios to two bedroom properties and all include fully furnished kitchens as standard. All Buildings of Dubai Lagoon’s second phase will be based around a stunning sapphire coloured lagoon. The second phase is expected to be ready for occupation by June 2008. It is expected the second phase will be as popular as the first phase, which sold out within 54 days, due to the flexible and extended payment terms. Sonia Husain, Executive Director of Dubai Lagoon said:

‘It is expected that the launch of phase two will be met with the same positive response as phase one. We have a unique proposition at Dubai Lagoon that caters for the middle management demographic, a previously ignored demographic by property developers. In addition to well appointed and good value investment opportunities we are offering flexible payment terms and fantastic options’.

Property buyers can take advantage of the payment terms which allow the purchaser to pay 60% over the initial two years with the balance to be paid over the next five years, like monthly rent. Dubai Lagoon is launching the second phase with a celebratory options scheme which will offer the buyer a variety of incentives dependent upon the property purchase. The incentive allows the buyer the option of a new Chevrolet motor vehicle (Spark, Aveo or Lumina), a PAN Emirates Furnishing voucher or a 5% discount upon booking.

Unlike other real estate incentives that wait until completion, with Dubai Lagoon as soon as one book an apartment the owner can drive away the vehicle or take away their vouchers to furnish their new home. In addition to these incentives the apartments are all ownership sub-lease hold title which means that all owners are eligible for family residence visas, subject to UAE immigration rules and regulations. The first phase of Dubai Lagoon proved very attractive to both investors and residents, largely due to the charming, tranquil and luxurious surroundings, resulting in sales of an equal split between the two groups.

Source: AME Info

Related links: Official Dubai Lagoon Website

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Overseas investors account for 30% of the total commercial property purchases in the UK

Public interest in commercial property investment has soared in recent years and is expected to increase more, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) annual commercial property forecast published this month.

With total returns in 2005 close to 20% for the second consecutive year, commercial property continues to attract individual private investors.

But RICS forecasts a decline in commercial property returns in 2006 and 2007 – 17% and 9% respectively – as a result of a slowdown in purchaser activity. This is expected to be partially offset by increased interest from private individual investors.

Overseas investors have been in the driving seat in 2005, accounting for around 30% of all UK commercial property purchases, amounting to the tune of £15bn. Buyers from the Middle East have been active as rising oil revenues pushed up their spending power.

Domestic institutional investment remained strong in 2005, representing £11bn of all direct commercial property purchases last year, though net investment receded to £2bn after peaking at £4bn in 2004.

Last year also saw the return of equities as the frontrunning asset class with returns outstripping those of commercial property for the first time since 1999.

But the advent of UK Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS), given the green light in the recent Budget, is expected to further entice retail investors into commercial property funds through tax sheltered personal finance vehicles, such as Individual Savings Accounts (ISAS) and Self Invested Pensions Schemes (SIPPSs).

Chartered surveyors, who, in a recent Rics poll said that the changes could not affect the market place nor appetite for commercial property in pensions plans, dismiss suggestions that a tightening of the borrowing rules governing Sipps could hurt the investment market.

Rising global interest rates likely to temper foreign investment demand

A rise in interest rates globally is expected to mitigate some of the impetus to the commercial property investment market from Reits. Demand for commercial property is expected to slow gradually over the next two years, as rising public investment, along with demand from institutional investors will partly offset a likely drop in foreign investment demand as the cost of funding for these overseas investors rises.

Office rental market set to outperform in 2006 and 2007
UK commercial rents have fallen by almost 9% since the stock market peak in 2000, while commercial values continue to rise – 12.8% in 2005, the largest recorded increase since 1988. A continued recovery in the office market will enable rents to rise, while retailers and industrial firms are expected to see a softer rental picture due to a moderate domestic climate, forcing them to focus on maximising efficiency rather than physical expansion. Rics expects rental growth to be strongest in the office sector, reaching 4.4% by the end of 2007 and retail growth to halve to 2% over the same period. Industrial rents are expected to experience marginal falls.

Background
Investment in commercial property has more than doubled in the last five years from £21bn in 2000 to £50bn in 2005. The largest increases in activity have been in the last two years, coinciding in the biggest rises in commercial property values since the late 1980s property boom.

Rics economist Oliver Gil-martin says: “The doors to commercial property are opening up to a much wider audience and individuals are beginning to appreciate that this kind of investment can generate income, whilst exposing them to comparatively reduced risk. We are seeing a rush into tax sheltered savings plans from those wishing to diversify their portfolios and spread their investments across different asset classes and geographical areas.”

“However, while the next two years will continue to see healthy returns for investors in UK commercial property, some will be disappointed if they are expecting the kind of stellar performance experienced in the last three years.”

Commercial property auctions warning
Around £2bn of UK commercial property went under the hammer last year, but experts are warning that private investors must beware of diving in. Low interest rates, the thrill of the chase and a red hot demand for alternative property investments means there is a booming trade in the UK for commercial space. Busy auctions are often held at hotels and the lots up for sale include shops, offices, industrial estates and a range of other buildings.

Peter Flemming, head of property at the law firm Betesh Fox, says private investors must be streetwise to avoid getting stuck with a bad deal: “Private investors need to make sure they don’t get their fingers burned at these auctions. Few people who make a success of this are rookies. Most investors have large portfolios where they can spread the risk.

“Smaller investors must beware that acceptance of a bid creates a legally binding contract and they must pay a 10% deposit. Doing your homework by inspecting the seller’s legal pack prior to the auction is crucial if you don’t want to end up in trouble. Property is usually “sold as seen” which means a buyer will inherit any problems it may have. Buyers are also asked to pay the balance of the purchase price within a month, so funding must be available.

“With commercial property, it is important to calculate the length of time left on the lease and work out what sort of return you will get. If a tenant quickly vacates the premises, it could prove hard to find another tenant. If the tenant goes bust, you may also have problems. Developers with years of experience often face these pitfalls, and it’s not for the faint-hearted. Getting professional advice is vital.”

Clive Gawsthorpe, tax partner at national accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young, says there are tax advantages to owning commercial property: “Tax breaks are available for commercial property owners in certain areas and it is worth knowing where savings can be made. For example, capital allowances are the main difference and property buyers quite often forget these when purchasing. The vehicle used to buy the property, whether through an individual, a partnership, limited liability partnership or a limited company has tax consequences. Mistakes can be costly.”


Bank of Scotland in £255m property deal

Bank of Scotland Corporate’s Joint Ventures team has secured a 44% stake in private property investment and development company Credential Holdings, based in Glasgow. The deal has an overall value of £255m, and Barrie Clapham, developer and entrepreneur, will retain 52% of the company.

Credential Holdings owns and manages a substantial portfolio of investment properties, valued in excess of £160m. This includes 450,000 square feet of retail, commercial and leisure space and £50m of residential property currently under development. This deal will enable the company to make further property acquisitions, consolidate its core regeneration property development work and spur growth in its newly established new build division.

Source: THE BUSINESS ONLINE.com

Donald J. Trump, Jr., son of Donald J. Trump, and Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions, The Trump Organization, is in Dubai this week to reveal details about the new design and discuss The Trump Organization’s increased involvement in the UAE. Speaking at the Arabian Hotel and Investment Conference (29th April to 1st May), he will discuss mixed use developments & condo hotels and feature in a round table discussion on private equity in the Middle East. On the 2nd May, he will be present on the Nakheel stand at the Arabian Travel Market.

Trump International Hotel & Tower, The Palm Jumeirah is the initial development in Nakheel and The Trump Organization’s joint-venture in the Middle East, which includes exclusive rights for 19 countries in the Middle East region and 17 major brands. It is also the first UAE property in the portfolio of Nakheel Hotels & Resorts, Nakheel’s hotel and resort investment company, which was launched in February this year.

On announcing the partnership in October 2005, Donald J. Trump, Chairman and President of The Trump Organization, who is known throughout the world for his luxurious real estate developments, stated that the organization’s architects and designers would engage closely with Nakheel Hotels & Resorts on the design. The results of the partnership have now been released.

The US$600 million Trump International Hotel & Tower, The Palm Jumeirah is a stunning 48 storey mixed-use hotel and residential building, anchoring the trunk of the 5 by 5km man made palm tree shaped island which lies off the coast of Dubai. The first of three such islands to be built in Dubai, The Palm Jumeirah will be one of the world’s premier resorts, offering a wealth of beachfront hotels, residences, retail and leisure.

The new ultra-modern design, features a split linked tower – an innovative open core design that minimizes shadows – constructed with stainless steel, glass and stone. Regarding the new design, Donald J. Trump, Jr. said:

In redesigning the property, we focused on creating a magnet for tourists and residents and a landmark icon on the Dubai skyline. Trump International Hotel & Tower, The Palm Jumeirah will soar into the sky, its twin sets of glazed diamond shaped structures at the top of each tower creating a sense of infinity as the glazed elements blur building and sky

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman, Nakheel stated: ‘The new design ensures that the property will be a striking landmark – a bold monument at the heart of the island. The property’s taller, more slender design allows for a linear view through the building to the top of the island and provides spectacular panoramas of the island, Dubai and the Arabian Gulf, with all rooms benefiting from a sea view.’

‘In building the vision of Dubai, Nakheel is committed to creating genuinely unique projects which are at the forefront of innovation”, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem continued. “The new design of the Trump International Hotel and Tower lives up to this commitment and will provide a fitting landmark centerpiece for The Palm Jumeirah, our flagship development.

Old design of Trump International Hotel & Tower The Palm Jumeirah

‘As the world’s fastest growing city, it is important that Dubai forms progressive partnerships with prominent international organizations. Our alliance with The Trump Organization is a fantastic example of how such partnerships can operate successfully. The Trump International Hotel and Tower is the first example of this success’

New Design of Trump International Hotel & Tower The Palm Jumeirah

Source: AME Info

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Timeshare and shared ownership properties have been endorsed by a major new study undertaken across the region.

Revealed for the first time at today’s exclusive conference at Dubai’s icon of hospitality, the Burj Al Arab, the symposium included 18 presentations and panel discussions covering every aspect of the leisure real estate market.

Commissioned by RCI Middle East, part of the world’s largest holiday exchange and rental travel group, RCI Global Vacation Network, the research findings formed the basis of a programme that attracted an audience of high profile executives from around the world.

Stephen Holmes, Vice Chairman of Cendant Corporation, parent company of RCI, provided the keynote address, along with Awadh Al Ketbhi, Director of Conventions at Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

The research focused on the burgeoning Arab tourist market and the holiday preferences of Arab travellers. More and more of them are expressing a preference to holiday within the region and this survey is essential reading for all those involved in the local hospitality and leisure sectors.

Fieldwork was undertaken during March across a sample of nearly 1,000 high-earning nationals from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Egypt and the UAE. Undertaken by the Pan Arab Research Centre, (PARC), the face-to-face interviews were analysed and edited by NorthCourse Advisory Services, a member of the Cendant group that provides comprehensive consultancy and turnkey solutions for prospective developers around the globe.

The research revealed that the concept of shared ownership products is ideally suited to the higher income Middle Eastern national. Also, that many Saudi and UAE nationals are more inclined to consider buying a timeshare property over and above other options. Longer stay purchases, known as Fractional Ownership, typically involving a share of a larger number of weeks rather than just one or two, were also a major preference, especially amongst Kuwaitis and Egyptians.

The study demonstrated that the entire sample travels regularly and that holiday choices are largely based upon destinations that offer good family solutions and shopping rather than activity and adventure tourism. Food and fine dining is definitely high on the agenda for all respondents in the survey.

Topics of particular focus during the research were 4 leisure travel options – family holidays, religious travel, big trips and festive travels; the clear leader is family holidays. Many travel in larger groups, with extended family, friends and household staff; the larger, luxurious type of accommodation found within shared ownership developments, can fulfil these requirements perfectly. Notably, 40% of Saudi Nationals take household staff away with them, and 46% of UAE Nationals take their parents.

Dubai and the UAE as a whole are the most popular destinations for all nationalities, especially when considering a timeshare purchase. The potential is significant – the Middle East market alone could support USD$540 million in annual timeshare sales. With regard to fractional ownership, the most attractive locations were Dubai, Sharm El Sheikh and Makkah. Although this is a smaller market in terms of volume, gross annual sales are estimated at USD $642 million, greater than for timeshare due to higher-value properties. Another exciting new shared ownership product is religious timeshare, which has received an extremely positive response amongst Muslim communities across the globe, who all have a common interest in travelling to Makkah.

These findings clearly demonstrate the major potential for shared ownership developments within the Middle East, where to date construction within the Gulf region exceeds USD$1 trillion, according to MEED reports. Within Saudi Arabia the value of new projects has doubled to more than USD$200 billion in the last 12 months.

Vivienne Noyes-Thomas, Managing Director of RCI Middle East, commented ‘today’s symposium is a unique forum packed with ground-breaking information for all those with an interest in property development, hospitality and sales. With close on 150 delegates from 15 different countries, it has drawn substantial interest from developers, government organisations and the entire leisure real estate industry.’

Other topics covered by speakers from the US, Europe and Asia at today’s symposium included The New Generation of Luxury Timeshare, Condo Hotels and Buy to Use and Let property models. Spanish tourism marketing expert Euologio Bordas set the background with a review of Global Tourism Trends and Shared Ownership within the ‘Dream Society’. Key business leaders from the local community – including Elaine Jones, CEO of Asteco, James Wilson, CEO of Nakheel Hotels and Resorts, Patrick Smith, VP Asset Management for IFA Hotels and Resorts – examined the opportunities for these new business models in the regional property and leisure development marketplace.

Source: AME Info

Pension funds extended their gains to nine consecutive months in the second quarter of 2005, the longest unbroken period of gains since the mid-1990s, according to research company Russell/Mellon on Friday.

Funds classed in the pooled balanced category achieved a median positive return of 4.7 percent, led by strong performance in stock markets, it said.

Pooled pension funds hold assets on behalf of several pension portfolios and run them as a single pot.

“This recent run of positive performance also brings pension funds that bit closer to where they were before the bear run at the start of the decade,” Daniel Hall, Russell/Mellon’s publications and statistics manager, said in a note.

On one measure, a typical balanced fund — holding a mix of bonds, stocks, cash and other assets — would be worth about 98 percent of its asset value at the end of 1999, he said.

Positive returns were achieved across all major asset classes, with UK equities returning 5.0 percent and overseas stocks logging 6.7 percent gains. UK bonds recorded a return of 4.7 percent, and property returned. 4.5 percent.

Pension fund managers shifted out of domestic UK equities and bonds over the quarter, continuing a trend seen in recent years. UK equity weightings fell by 0.6 percent to 50.6 percent.

-Reuters