Nakheel Group - Dubai

May 20, 2010 10:36 AM ET
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After a short bus ride, we arrived at the modern and lavish corporate offices of Nakheel Group, a local, major real estate developer. We were welcomed by an HR Rep (Name) who led us into a large movie theater style room where we comfortably sat in lounge chairs for an interactive, and creative presentation. The proceeding 20 minutes highlighted the advances that Nakheel group has made in developing the Jumeriah Islands, the features of the islands and how they were engineered. The presentation also highlighted further projects including the World Islands, and three more manmade land reclamation undertakings Nakheel has envisioned.

It was Shiek Al Maktoum's vision to increase Dubai's coast line from the existing 70 kilometers to 1,000 kilometers. Nakheel's goal is to make this vision a reality and has extended the coastline to 800 kilometers already with the extra 200 on the horizon. A note that the HR Rep (Name) made at the end of the presentation was that Nakheel group was undergoing upper level management change and would shortly become one of many state run corporations, although the details are were not fully given, a new board of directors and chairman were in the process of being implemented.

Post-meeting Nakheel was gracious enough to offer a boat tour of the Palm Jumeriah Islands to our entire group. Although the day was overcast due to turbulent winds and sand interference, the islands are still a sight to be seen. The engineering behind these manmade islands is advanced and intriguing. Now that the work has been completed I only hope that permanent investors will be found.

A recurring theme throughout Dubai is the amount of fleeting foreign direct invest the Emirate is experiencing. To explain, we were informed that the Houses on the Palm Jumeriah Island were sold out within 72 hours; this was before any of them were even built. Investors lined up to get a piece of property on the manmade palm in the Arabian Gulf, but most of the houses were flipped quickly in a fast rising housing bubble. Properties were passed from hand to hand until the value of these properties soon were exceeding 500% of their original value, of course this was halted during the global real estate crash.

But I begin wonder what the long term intentions of these investors are, and whether enough of them plan on becoming a major source of economic stimulus for the economy. Can Dubai become an attractive enough city for a large middle class population to support the infrastructure? From all that I have observed so far, I am beginning to have my doubts. Although the scenery and lavish lifestyle here are attractive, the longevity of this economy comes into question. The opulence of this country is unmatched but I wonder if Sheik Maktoum's vision of an Emirate entirely supported by tourism will ever be possible.

Disclosure: no positions

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