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8,000 buildings damaged by Beirut port blast

8,000 buildings damaged by Beirut port blast

The damaged buildings include 50 ancient buildings reports Hassan Darwish of Anadolu as 8,000 buildings damaged by Beirut port blast last week are increasingly showing that it is merely the result of a degree of negligence never attained anywhere else in the world.

8,000 buildings damaged by Beirut port blast

11 August 2020

By Hassan Darwish | Anadolu

BEIRUT: At least 8,000 buildings, including 50 ancient structures, were damaged by last week’s massive explosion at the Beirut port, according to the High Relief Commission in Lebanon (HRC) on Tuesday.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, HRC Secretary-General Mohammed Khair said the calculation of all damage from the blast will be concluded on Wednesday.

According to Anadolu Agency reporter, the scale of damage differs from one area to another.

The HRC is affiliated with the Cabinet and its functions include aid distribution and disaster management.

The government has blamed a neglected stockpile of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse for the explosion, which killed at least 160 people, injured thousands and left a vast trail of destruction across the capital.

Last Tuesday’s port blast, which rocked Beirut to its core, came at a time when Lebanon was already dealing with a severe financial crisis, and the coronavirus pandemic.

Protesters have taken to the streets with violent anti-government demonstrations for the past two days, storming official buildings and clashing with police.

*Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara

8,000 buildings damaged by Beirut port blast
Locals look at a destroyed house where the wife and two of the daughters of Syrian refugee Ahmed Staifi were killed following a massive explosion, in Beirut, Lebanon, August 11, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Further cuts to MENA construction sector expected for 2020

Further cuts to MENA construction sector expected for 2020

Posted in Construction, on July 5, 2020, Further cuts to MENA construction sector expected for 2020 as the region appearing to be hit with a triple whammy, per GlobalData, would sound in our opinion as a realistic assessment at this conjecture of the construction industry in the MENA.


The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) construction sector is expected to be bit by the triple whammy of lower oil production, low oil prices and contracting non-oil sectors. Leading data and analytics company GlobalData has further cut its construction output growth forecast for the region for 2020 to -2.4%, down from the previous forecast of 1.4%, in light of continued spread of COVID-19.

Yasmine Ghozzi, Economist at GlobalData, comments: “Construction activity for the remainder of 2020 is set to see poor performance. While there is usually weak construction activity in the holy month of Ramadan and during the hot summer months of June, July and August, this is usually compensated by strong performance at the beginning and end of the year. However, this will not be the case this year due to the strict lockdown policies that extended until the end of May.

“The sector is expected to face headwinds in 2021 with a slow recovery, but the pace of this will be uneven across countries in the region. Fiscal deficits and public debt levels will be substantially higher in 2021. Fiscal consolidation will hinder non-oil growth across the region, where governments still play a considerable role in spurring domestic demand.

“In addition, public investment is likely to be moderate, which will translate into fewer prospects for private sector businesses to grow – especially within sectors such as infrastructure. Expected increase in taxes, selected subsidy cuts and the introduction of several public sector service charges will influence households’ purchasing power, having a knock-on effect on future commercial investments.”

Amid the worsening situation with regards to the COVID-19 outbreak and the decline in oil prices, GlobalData has further cut its forecast for construction output growth in Saudi Arabia to -1.8% from its previous forecast of 2.9% in 2020 and expects a recovery in the sector of 3.3% in 2021. The government’s decision to host limited annual ten-day Hajj entails a possible loss of estimated revenue at more than US$10bn, adding more pressure on the Kingdom’s economy. 

Ghozzi adds: “GlobalData has estimated a contraction of 2.1% in construction output growth in the UAE but expects a rebound in 2021 of 3.1%. In one of the largest global energy infrastructure transactions, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) raised US$10bn by leasing a 49% stake in its gas pipelines for 20 years. This landmark deal is important especially during the prevailing industry downturn in order to keep profitability.

“GlobalData has also cut further the growth rates for Qatar, Kuwait and Oman in 2020 to -3.4%, -7.8% and -8.1%, respectively. Qatar’s economy this year will be affected by decline in tourist arrivals, low consumer spending and low oil prices. Nevertheless, strong fiscal stimulus and spending on infrastructure projects should provide support.

“The negative outlook for Kuwait is weighed down by lower oil prices and the prospect of a higher fiscal deficit, possibly compromising the government’s capital spending on construction and infrastructure. Business unfriendliness constitutes a barrier to reforms in the Kuwaiti economy; the extensions in tenders’ deadlines compounded by an inflexible bureaucratic procurement setup that slows decision-making will delay progress for several Kuwaiti megaprojects.”

Egypt’s construction sector is set to continue performing well despite poor performance of the non-oil sector in April. GlobalData expects construction to grow at 7.7% in 2020, slowing from 9.5% in 2019, given a short-term slow down due to the pandemic and 8.9% in 2021, and to continue maintaining a positive trend throughout the forecast period. In the Arab Maghreb, GlobalData has further cut forecasts for construction growth in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria to -3%, -2.1%, and -2.5%, respectively, in 2020 and 0.7%, 1.2% and 1.9%, respectively, in 2021.

GlobalData has a bleak view of Iran’s construction sector throughout the forecast period. A slowdown in economic activity caused by the virus outbreak and a possible wave of further US sanctions (in the event Trump wins a second term) will continue to wreak havoc on its economy, and drastically affecting construction activities.

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Sustainable construction projects completed in Qatar during 2019

Sustainable construction projects completed in Qatar during 2019

I love Qatar with Mark Alexander on 6 April 2020 elaborates on more than 50 sustainable construction projects completed in Qatar during 2019. Qatar Construction increased with Permit Issuance up last year.

Once considered a farfetched possibility by skeptics, global warming and climate change are now surfacing as palpable realities of the day. From wildfires in Australia to melting glaciers in Iceland, the year 2020 bid farewell to the hottest ever decade recorded on the planet. Fortunately, though, measures are being taken across all industries to curb our modern world’s carbon footprint, and the case of building and construction sector is no different.

According to a recent UNEP-supported report titled 2019 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, construction sector in 2019 continued its notorious position as the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in 39% of the energy and process-related carbon emissions recorded during the year. The report further states that whilst as many as 136 countries have expressed intentions to work towards sustainable buildings, only a few have elaborated on tangible actions strategized to achieve such plans.

The global building stock is forecasted to grow twofold by 2050 as a direct consequence of increasing urbanization. If left unchecked, GHG emissions resulting from the building industry can rise to 50% of the global carbon emissions in the next three decades. While technological innovations have given way to reduced energy consumption, increasing cooling demand emerging from hot regions have overshadowed a significant positive trajectory. That said, countries across the world are increasingly targeting the urban built environment as a part of their national strategy towards a low-carbon future.

Within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Qatar houses one of the highest collections of sustainable buildings. Concluding 2019, the country saw completion of more than 50 projects certified under the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) – MENA’s first performance-based assessment system for green buildings. Based on their overall sustainability credentials, projects registered under GSAS can achieve up to 5 Stars, representing the highest levels of sustainable features in terms of design and build. The award of final rating and certificates follows a comprehensive process whereby auditors from the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD) analyze several aspects of projects at multiple stages throughout the construction phase.

For the year 2019, here are some green projects successfully completed under GSAS.

Metro Stations:

During 2019, many recipients of outstanding sustainability ratings were linked with Qatar Rail’s Doha Metro project. With Mesheireb Station achieving the highest rating of 5 Stars, another 17 metro stations and 2 stabling yards at different locations within Doha received 4 Stars for their environmentally friendly design and build aspects. Doha Metro is by far the world’s first metro project with accredited sustainable certification specific to rating railway stations. This has been achieved through GSAS’ unique Railways Scheme that is used for rating the sustainability and ecological impacts of new main station buildings, including spaces that serve various functions of a metro station. According to Consolidated Contractors Company, sustainability of the project has been achieved through responsible site development, water saving, energy efficiency, materials selection, cultural and economic value support and innovation in design. Stations awarded GSAS accreditation during 2019 included those located in Msheireb Downtown, Ras Bu Abboud, Al Sadd, Al Sudan, Bin Mahmoud, Qatar University, Hamad International Airport Terminal 1, Al Doha Al Jadeda, Umm Ghuwailina, Ras Bu Fontas, Economic Zone, Al Wakrah, Al Bidda, Corniche, Hamad Hospital, Al Riffa, The White Palace and Education City.

Lusail City Projects:

A number of projects receiving green certifications during 2019 represented Lusail City – Qatar’s first smart city covering 38 square kilometers, that has mandated GSAS to ensure sustainability of all of its buildings. A flagship project of Qatari Diar, Lusail City has been dubbed as the “largest single sustainable development” ever undertaken in the State of Qatar. Use of native flora and water efficient landscaping mechanisms are some ways the city conserves water. Its integrated transport system reduces GHG emissions resulting from private vehicles. The city’s urban connectivity has been achieved through light rail, ample pedestrian walkways, bicycle tracks and park-and-ride facilities at the public transport stations. With a capacity to reduce up to 65 million tons of CO2 per annum, Lusail’s district cooling plant boasts of being one of the largest in the world. Other green credentials benefiting the entire city include a pneumatic waste collection system, sewage treatment plant and an interconnected natural gas network designed to cut down energy consumption.

Within Lusail, Marina Yacht Club Al Khaliji Tower received the highest sustainability rating of 4 Stars during 2019 followed by another 8 commercial, residential and mixed-use developments receiving 4, 3 and 2 stars. Once complete, the city will have the capacity to accommodate 200,000 residents, 170,000 employees and 80,000 visitors without significant impact on the environment.

Health Centers:

Sustainable development is one of the four key pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030, a fact that has provided a natural impetus for public projects to be designed and constructed sustainably. Now, all government projects within Qatar are now mandated to pursue and achieve sustainability under GSAS certification system. To this end, health centers in Al Waab, Al Wajbah, Muaither and Qatar University were successfully completed with 3 Stars sustainability rating during 2019 under the supervision of Public Works Authority ‘Ashghal’. Interestingly, all projects undertaken by Ashghal have been designed and built following sustainability principles – a fact that has been reiterated by Ashghal’s President, Dr. Eng. Saad bin Ahmad Al Muhannadi, who recently emphasized that “Ashghal is implementing GSAS standards in all its public buildings in Qatar, specifically in educational and health buildings.” In the light of these comments, one can safely assume that the upcoming stock of health centers in Qatar will continue to have sustainability at the core of their design and construction.

Hamad Port Project Facilities:

Increasing Doha’s total port capacity, Hamad Port Project started operations in 2016. However, construction has been underway to develop new facilities aimed at enhancing the port’s functional efficiency. The year 2019 witnessed completion of multiple facilities inside the new port with sustainability certification. From accommodation and mosques to civil defense and business center buildings, 19 projects under the umbrella of Hamad Port received sustainability rating between 3 and 2 Stars. Development of the new port has followed comprehensive mechanisms aimed at preserving the environment. For instance, 39,117 mangroves, 14,252 sqm of sea grass and 11,595 hard corals were relocated prior to the construction phase. The relocated flora and fauna are being continuously monitored and have so far proven to be surviving.

Sports Infrastructure:

Taking green sports infrastructure to another level, Al Janoub Stadium received GSAS 4 Stars during 2019, and rightly so. Soon to be a venue for FIFA 2022 World Cup games, the stadium consumes 30 percent less water in terms of international plumbing codes. More than 15% of its permanent building materials are made from recycled content and more than 85% of the waste generated during construction was processed to be reused or recycled, making it one of the most sustainable stadiums worldwide. Apart from Al Janoub, Qatar University’s Sports and Events Complex was another distinguishing project that received 4 Stars under GSAS Design & Build scheme.

mark@iloveqatar.net

Source: Press Release

ME buyers surge to third place in the UK’s country house buying

ME buyers surge to third place in the UK’s country house buying

The surge in number of Middle Eastern buyers spending over £5 million on UK property market that translates on the ground as ME buyers surge to third place in the UK’s country house buying. This means the following is probably happening.

The number of the ultra-wealthy individuals seeking a second citizenship is on the rise, and is expected to increase at an even faster rate over the next 10 years.

According to several reports, nearly 60 per cent of applicants for a second citizenship or second residence programmes come from the Middle East.


ME buyers surge to third place in the UK's country house buying

Middle Eastern buyers surge to third place in the UK’s country house £5 million+ buyer rankings, just behind UK and European buyers who maintain their positions in first and second place, according to Knight Frank.

  • Analysis of purchaser data confirms that 2019 saw a tripling in the market share taken by Middle Eastern buyers in the £5 million+ country market compared to their share in 2018
  • This makes them the third largest source of international demand
  • Brexit went official last month, which could cause a shift in spending habits

Middle Eastern buyers surge to third place in the UK’s country house £5 million+ buyer rankings, just behind UK and European buyers who maintain their positions in first and second place, according to Knight Frank. 

Analysis of purchaser data confirms that 2019 saw a tripling in the market share taken by Middle Eastern buyers in the £5 million+ country market compared to their share in 2018, making them the third largest source of international demand. This was followed closely by near doubling in the share of purchases taken by European buyers, who upheld their second place position in the country house buyer rankings.

Although dropping slightly in 2019, UK buyers maintained their position with the largest share of the prime country market responsible for nearly six in ten purchases.

Henry Faun, Head of London International Project Sales at Knight Frank Middle East, said: “The attraction of private education options is particularly significant to Middle Easterners seeking to place their children in the UK education system. Areas in close proximity to London, such as North Surrey, have been extremely popular with Middle Eastern buyers. The many respectable international schools, combined with easy access into London, makes the Surrey area particularly attractive to buyers from the Middle East looking to settle in the UK.”

Rupert Sweeting, Head of National Country Sales at Knight Frank, said: “Although the dip in UK buyers can be explained by the concerns over the general election and Brexit that clouded 2019, international purchasers still consider the UK as politically stable and are confident in the country’s long term growth prospects – despite stamp duty taxes.”

Read: $23 billion worth of hotels to be built in MENA by 2023

Read: Foreigners’ guide to buying property in Dubai

Construction Activity Can Signal When Credit Booms Go Wrong

Construction Activity Can Signal When Credit Booms Go Wrong

An IMF blog article by Deniz Igan dated February 12, 2020, holds that Construction Activity Can Signal When Credit Booms Go Wrong. This state of affairs seems to apply almost universally.  Indeed, as per the French saying “when the building goes, everything goes,” it appears that it took time for the international financial institution to reach this conclusion, especially with regards to the countries of the  MENA region.


In Spain, private sector credit as a share of GDP almost doubled between 2000 and 2007. This increase was accompanied by a boom in housing prices—which doubled in real terms over the same period. The economy as a whole also grew at a record pace.

But then in 2008, Spain’s credit bubble burst, and with it came loan defaults, bank failures, and a prolonged economic slowdown.

A less-noticed development in Spain was in the construction sector, where employment grew by an astounding 47 percent, compared to the economy-wide increase of 27 percent.

New IMF staff research, based on a large sample of advanced and emerging market economies since the 1970s, shows that long-lasting credit booms that featured rapid construction growth never ended well.

New evidence on credit booms

Rapid credit growth—known as “credit booms”—presents a trade-off between immediate, buoyant economic performance and the danger of a future crisis. The risk of a “bad boom”—where a rapid credit growth episode is followed by a financial crisis or subpar economic growth—increases when there is also a boom in house prices.

Long-lasting credit booms that featured rapid construction growth never ended well.

Our research shows that the experience with the dangerous combination of credit booms and rapid expansion in the construction sector goes beyond the Spanish borders and extends to time periods not related to the global financial crisis.

We find that signals from construction activity may help to tell apart the dangerous booms, which need to be controlled, from the episodes of buoyant but healthy credit growth (“good booms”).

Credit booms do not lift all boats alike

During booms, output and employment expand faster. But not all sectors behave the same. Most of the extra growth is concentrated in a few industries—specifically, construction and, at a distant second, finance.

However, the same industries that benefit the most during booms experience the most severe downturns during busts. This implies that credit booms tend to leave few long-term footprints on a country’s industrial composition.

Construction Activity Can Signal When Credit Booms Go Wrong

Construction is special

Construction is the only sector that consistently behaves differently between good and bad credit booms. On average, output and employment in the construction sector grow between 2 and 3 percentage points more in bad booms than in good ones. In all other sectors, the difference is smaller and not significant (except trade, but only when it comes to output growth).

Construction Activity Can Signal When Credit Booms Go Wrong

What makes construction special? Construction does not have the growth potential of many other industries. In other words, too much investment in construction may divert resources away from more productive activities and result in lower output.

Also, the temporary boost in construction employment and the relatively low level of skills needed may discourage some workers from investing in their education and skills. This may have long-lasting effects on output after the boom ends.

Finally, construction projects have large up-front financing needs, and final consumers of the product (for example, houses or hotels) also tend to borrow to finance their purchases. As a result, debt may increase significantly more during booms led by construction.

The predictive power of construction activity

An unusually rapid expansion of the construction sector helps flag bad credit booms. A 1 percentage point increase in output and employment growth in the construction sector during a boom raises the probability of the boom being bad by 2 and 5 percentage points, respectively.

Construction growth is also a strong predictor of the economic costs of bad booms than other variables. A 1 percentage point increase in output growth in the construction sector during a bad boom corresponds to nearly a 0.1 percentage point drop in aggregate output growth during the bust.

Policy takeaways

If policymakers observe a rapid expansion in the construction sector during a credit boom, they should consider tightening macroeconomic policies and using macroprudential tools (such as higher down payments for mortgages).

In some cases, policy action will be triggered by other indicators, such as house prices or household mortgages. Sometimes, however, these other indicators may not sound the alarm (for example, because the construction boom is financed by the corporate sector or by foreigners), yet risks accumulate. Then, unusually rapid growth of construction could give a signal, for instance, to impose limits on banks’ exposure to real estate developers and other construction firms.

Finally, given that data on output and employment in the construction sector are often available with a few months’ lag, higher-frequency indicators such as construction permit applications could act as valuable signals. Construction indicators should also be included in models that assess risks to future economic activity.

Indians, Pakistanis most interested in UAE property

Indians, Pakistanis most interested in UAE property

It is no surprise that in this article (see below) of ConstructionWeekonline, there is no hint anywhere that Indians, Pakistanis most interested in UAE property investments make up the most significant percentage of the populations of the respective GCC countries.

Since the advent of oil, the Persian Gulf countries have generally turned into modern states through concurrent processes of development.  Rapid population growth in the GCC states has been timed by 10 at least, in the space of few decades through primarily a natural growth in the influx of foreign workers and not through their indigenous population. 

It must also be noted that the same countries planning ahead are believed to be somehow facilitating investments of non nationals in any segment of their economies, presumably to counter all those consequences of oil peaking shortly and away from the Gulf region.

Of the top five most active nationalities on Dubizzle Property, the highest interest in the UAE property market came from Indian nationals, accounting for 22% of visits to the platform in 9M 2018. 

Indians and Pakistanis are most interested in UAE property investments, Dubizzle said [representational image].

Indians, Pakistanis most interested in UAE property investments

Nov 22, 2018

o EThis data echoes figures from Dubai Land Department (DLD), where Indian nationals accounted for more than 4,600 investments worth AED 8.6 billion in the first nine months of this year, representing the largest property investment segment in the UAE.

Pakistanis came in second with 14% of visits to dubizzle Property, followed by Egyptians (6 per cent), Jordanians (4 per cent) and UK nationals (4%).

Egyptians and Jordanians are the top Arab nationalities looking to invest in the UAE property market, according to dubizzle Property.

The two nationalities accounted for 10 per cent of property seekers on the platform in the first three quarters of the year.

This is in line with the figures recently revealed by the Dubai Land Department (DLD) concerning Dubai real estate transactions during the same period, where Jordanians were identified as the highest Arab investors with 644 investments by 548 investors, worth over AED 1.2 billion.  Egyptians recorded 719 transactions made by 623 investors, worth over AED 1 billion.

China, France, UAE, and KSA were among the top 20 most active users of the platform, which is also in line with the DLD’s list of top 10 investors by nationality that includes UAE, India, KSA, UK, Pakistan, China, Egypt, Jordan, and France.

“The current soft sales market has made the cost of property ownership more attractive versus the cost of rent, especially for those considering staying in Dubai for five years or more. Long-term expats are increasingly making the leap into ownership as declining prices are now making this investment possible,” commented Matthew Gregory, head of property sales at dubizzle Property.

 

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