Perfect timing

By Mohanad Alwadiya
CEO, Harbor Real Estate
Senior Advisor & Instructor, Dubai Real Estate Institute
Published: Property Weekly
Dated: August, 2016

Cityscape Global is just around the corner, and the 2016 edition promises to be the best Cityscape exhibition yet. Having been a professional in real estate for over a decade now, I get more excited when Cityscape time rolls around as Cityscape Global showcases to the world what has been made possible in the world of Dubai real estate and, as a proud professional in the industry, that is something I take pride in.

Every industry has its shows, whether it’s the myriad of motor shows held around the world, film festivals, fashion events and airshows, real estate is no different. What many don’t understand is that Dubai’s Cityscape Global is up there with the best real estate and property events globally.

Many times, I have been asked questions about this year’s event as the level of interest in the Dubai property industry continues to grow, partly because of the cyclical slowdown that the industry has experienced over the last two years, and also because of the opportunities that many investors are predicting will emerge as the emirate accelerates rapidly towards the Global Expo in 2020.

The usual questions I receive from a broad base of industry participants are about the significance of the event as it relates to current market conditions – whether the event will provide a boost or momentum to the market, going forward, and who will eventually benefit most from such an event.

Spanning in excess of 41,000 sq.m. of exhibition space at the Dubai World Trade Centre, the 15th edition of Cityscape Global will run from the 6th of September to the 8th of September. The show will be open from 10am in the morning until 7pm in the evening. It is expected to attract over 40,000 overseas visitors to Dubai coming as investors, representatives of financial institutions and high-net-worth individuals to attend the world’s largest property exhibition where over 150 developers from both Dubai and overseas will showcase hundreds of property project launches.

Cityscape Global has grown to become the world’s largest networking exhibition and conference on property development, and this 2016’s will be the largest and most influential real estate investment and development event for emerging markets globally. Bringing together investors, developers, government officials and real estate professionals, there is no better place to find investment opportunities, new business partners and have the opportunity to engage with a wide variety of internationally renowned industry experts.

Past events have revealed the breadth of its global appeal as it attracts visitors from every corner of the world. Indian nationals typically represent around 25 percent of attendees with Pakistani nationals making up around 10 percent. UAE nationals and British citizens make up about 8 percent of the audience each with the remaining 53 percent of attendees arriving from virtually every other nation in the world.

There will also be a one-day Cityscape Global conference on the 5th of September at the Conrad Dubai Hotel which will feature a comprehensive program covering the full spectrum of real estate development with the highlight being an exclusive talk from leading futurist Rohit Talwar on “The Disruptive Futures Reshaping the Property Sector.”

The conference will focus on topics relevant to today’s industry and market environment and will encompass three distinct programs which will focus on the Market, Architecture and Real Estate Brokers. The sessions are designed to be dynamic and will feature official keynote speakers, exclusive reports, and explore concepts and ideas by utilizing panel discussions and case studies.

The intrigue that surrounds the 2016 Cityscape Global lies with the state of play of in today’s real estate market. The Dubai economy experienced a significant post-recession boom and its real estate industry, a major beneficiary of Dubai’s rapid growth in tourism, trade and commerce, experienced a boom of its own. So much so that it attracted the attention of the IMF and various central banks which began voicing concerns about asset bubbles developing as a result of the market becoming too hot.

However, things have cooled a little over the last 2 years and the slowdown was being eyed nervously by some while many others, including myself, considered the market to be experiencing a healthy correction, not a recession. We all knew that the growth rates of 30+ percent experienced in 2013 were unsustainable. So, in that regard, a slowdown has been welcomed in the interests of a more sustainable and profitable future.

High interest

So next week’s Cityscape Global can be regarded as being held in a very interesting time for the industry. We all know that the industry is cyclical in nature and, as the industry matures, as it has done so rapidly over the last 5 years, the peaks and troughs of cyclical fluctuations become shallower and cycles are characterized by corrections, not boom and bust scenarios. What is pleasing is that the industry has shown itself to being much more resilient to global economic and geo-political influences and events. Therefore, it can be considered that the industry is actually at the bottom of its first true correction of this century. I say this because I do not consider the events of 2008 and 2009 to be a cyclical but rather an anomalous event.

I think this year’s event, while dynamic, rich in content and exciting, will definitely be surrounded by a heightened level of intrigue and discussion as to where the market will be going for the remainder of the decade. Regardless of mood and sentiment, Cityscape Global 2016 will play an important role in allowing participants to opine debate and determine what the future opportunities are for Dubai’s real estate industry and how they can participate, contribute or help shape its realization.


It is highly likely that keynote speakers will highlight the positive outlook for Dubai’s property market, promoting investment in the emirate while the city is at the bottom of its cycle. No doubt, the positive effect that the Global Expo 2020 will have on the industry will be a topic that will be explored exhaustively.

The importance of Cityscape Global to the industry cannot be overstated. As with many exhibitions, it provides a concentrated and focused forum which allows the industry to showcase its vision and capabilities, and demonstrate what shape Dubai will take in the future. But Cityscape is much more than that.

Cityscape Global is an open invitation for all stakeholders to understand, evaluate, participate and prosper in an industry that continues to literally shape Dubai. It is a meeting place for some of the biggest and brightest minds in the industry representing all stakeholders in the industry, and a confluence of opinions, ideas and opportunities which are shared, debated and developed. It allows these stakeholders to gain a macro sense of industry direction and a micro understanding of the various elements that will shape the industry going forward.

So, for those of us with a passion for the industry, it will certainly be an exciting three days.  My personal interest and intrigue goes way beyond the concepts on display – to harnessing, considering and evaluating the thoughts, opinions, concerns, visions and ideas of those assembled in one of the most diverse and informative real estate forums in the world.

Let the show begin, again!

Make the most of your Cityscape visit…

  • Check online which developers/establishments are exhibiting, make a short list of those projects/exhibits which you want to visit
  • Know your objective – to buy a new home or to invest?
  • What is your price range?
  • Are you interested in a specific location?
  • Make your rounds – find out which projects will likely support or satisfy your goal(s)
  • Don’t decide in haste – there will be a lot of good offers; be on the lookout for the best deals
  • Always read between the lines, ask questions and haggle
  • Attend as many conferences as they are usually free