Saturday, February 2, 2008

Emaar's Crescent Bay Project Sold Out in Karachi

On January 31 2008, Emmar Chairman Mohamed Alabbar told Erin Burnett of CNBC that a major project in Karachi sold out within hours of its being offered for sale. The project he was referring to is Emaar's Crescent Bay Project in Karachi. Crescent Bay was launched on May 31, 2006 as part of a US$2.4 billion investment in Pakistan by Emaar.

According to Emaar, Crescent Bay is a 75-acre development featuring high- and mid-rise towers for residential and commercial use, a shopping centre and five-star beachfront hotel. The towers will contain approximately 4,000 residential apartments. Crescent Bay is located within Karachi’s DHA Phase 8 and in close proximity to the DHA golf course. Below is an artist's rendering of the completed project:

A friend of mine in Karachi reported via email as follows: "The first phase was overbooked in less than an hour of opening of the counter. Then there was balloting. Those who one were given a piece of paper. That piece of paper is already 10 times its original value.
There is no demarcation. Not even one pick ax has hit the ground. Only leaflets and pamphlets and Emmar's name sells.
It is said that one apartment presently priced at Rs 20 million will change hands much before its completion at more than twice this amount.
There are investors planning to buy a whole tower, to resell later.
One tower would on the average consist of 80 to 160 apartments. The payments would be in instalments according to phases of completion. All payments shall be strictly cash!
All this investment is on account of public enemy number 1 you know who.
The stupid fellow does not take commissions, does not have palaces in Surrey, Paris and Dubai does not own sugar and steel mills in Pakistan. What a shame.
Unless his children study in Oxford how can he feel the pain of children studying in Govt Schools? He can't even gift his wid $80K necklace to his wife paid for through a Swiss Bank issued Credit Card. Shame."

Here's a video clip about Karachi:


Riaz Haq said...

Here's some bad news about Dubai, the home base of Emaar, and its impact on World markets, according to Wall Street Journal:

Stocks slumped Friday as investors reacted to a debt crisis in Dubai, with more repercussions likely on tap the next few days as traders return from major holidays in both the U.S. and Middle East.

Crude oil touched a six-week low, gold tumbled, and the dollar climbed as worried investors sought safe havens.

The stock market's slide began in Europe, continued in Asia, and then through the U.S. trading session after Dubai said it would delay repayments on $60 billion of debt from its investment company, Dubai World. The decision raised broader questions about the safety of emerging-market debt and the strength of the global recovery The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 233 points at its morning low and ended the shortened post-Thanksgiving session with a 154.48-point decline, off 1.5%, at 10309.92, hurt by declines in all 30 components. The Dow, which entered Friday's session at a 13-month high, ended the week down 0.1%, snapping a three-week winning streak.

Traders and money managers drew some comfort from the U.S. market's recovery from its intraday lows Friday. Many point out that Dubai's main creditors are European banks, not Wall Street firms. But that could still lead to gyrations next week and beyond if investors with exposure to Dubai's troubles continue to unload commodities, U.S. shares, and other assets that have shown hefty gains this year to raise cash.

"We still need to see if there's going to be a domino effect here," with Dubai's credit woes spreading to its neighbors and trading partners, said Kevin Shacknofsky, of Alpine Woods Capital Investors. "The markets are telling us for now that this is a containable problem, but we're not absolutely certain of that yet."

In particular, traders are waiting to see details of possible aid from oil-rich Abu Dhabi to prop up Dubai. Both are city-states within the federation known as the United Arab Emirates, which was the world's eighth-largest oil producer in 2008, according to U.S. government data.

Analysts said such a rescue may have to be hammered out in the coming days, since many key players in the Middle East are away Friday for the Eid Al-Adha holiday marking the end of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Trading was light in the U.S. on Friday, with many participants taking an extended Thanksgiving break.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei stock average slid 3.2%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index tumbled 4.8%. South Korea's benchmark dropped 4.7%.

The dollar rose, with the U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, up 0.2%. The euro fell to $1.4960, down from $1.5017 late Wednesday.

Treasurys also gained. The two-year note was recently up 4/32 to yield 0.687%, while the 10-year note rose 17/16 to yield 3.207%.

Friday's moves in the financial markets reverse a recent trend in which investors have generally favored riskier investments, reflecting optimistism that the world was coming out of recession. But now attention is turning not just to Dubai but also to Greece, which is scrambling to refinance its mounting public debt.

Riaz Haq said...

On a trip to Karachi in July 2009, I passed by the Creek Club, stopped at the Defense Golf Club and Resort, the Clifton beach and later stopped at the Emaar Crescent project to tour their tastefully decorated model units on display.

This part of town could be easily mistaken for resort communities in California or Florida. The first release of the Emaar Crescent project offered one, two and three bedroom world-class, beach-front luxury apartments ranging in price from $300,000 to $500,000 sold out quickly last year. The Crescent community will be a self-contained community with its own gyms, tracks, water, power, schools, parks, libraries and shopping etc.

A lot of the speculators probably bought these units in the expectation of rising real estate prices to make a quick profit. But the real estate bubble burst in Karachi as it did elsewhere. The second release is now underway but the prices have not gone up as some expected, nor has this release been sold out like the last one.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt on Pakistan from a recent piece by Indian journalist Akar Patel:

Why is Pakistan such a mess? Some would blame Islam, but they’d be wrong. The problem isn’t religion at all. The problem is lack of caste balance. There aren’t enough traders to press for restraint and there are too many peasants. Too many people concerned about national honour, and not enough people concerned about national economy. Put simply: Pakistan has too many Punjabis and not enough Gujaratis. The majority of Pakistanis live in Punjab, but well over 50% of government revenue comes from just one city in Sindh: Karachi. Why? That is where the Gujarati is.

Gujaratis are less than 1% of Pakistan’s population, but they dominate its economy because they are from trading communities. Colgate-Palmolive in Pakistan is run by the Lakhani Memons, the Dawood group is run by Memons from Bantva in Saurashtra (the great Abdus Sattar Edhi is also a Memon from Bantva). The Adamjee group, advertisers on BBC, are from Gujarat’s Jetpur village and founded Muslim Commercial Bank. The Khoja businessman Sadruddin Hashwani owns hotels including Islamabad’s bombed-out Marriott. Khojas founded Habib Bank, whose boards are familiar to Indians who watched cricket on television in the 1980s. The Habibs also manufacture Toyota cars through Indus Motors. Pakistan’s only beer is made by Murree Brewery, owned by a Parsi family, the Bhandaras. Also owned by Parsis is Karachi’s Avari Hotels.

People talk of the difference between Karachi and Lahore. I find that the rational view in Pakistani newspapers is put forward by letter-writers from Karachi. Often they have names like Gheewala, a Sunni Vohra name (same caste as Deoband’s rector from Surat, Ghulam Vastanvi), or Parekh, also a Surat name.

Today capital is fleeing Pakistan because of terrorism and poor governance. To convince investors things will get better, the Pakistani government has appointed as minister for investment a Gujarati, Saleem Mandviwalla. The Mandviwallas own Pakistan’s multiplexes, which now show Bollywood. The place where Gujaratis dominate totally, as they do also in India, is Pakistan’s capital market. Going through the list of members of the Karachi Stock Exchange ( this becomes clear. However, few Pakistanis will understand this because as Muslims they have little knowledge of caste.

The Gujarati tries to hold up the Pakistani economy, but the peasant Punjabi (Jat) runs over his effort with his militant stupidity. Why cannot the Pakistani Punjabi also think like a trader? Simple. He’s not converted from the mercantile castes. There are some Khatris, like Najam Sethi, South Asia’s best editor, but they are frustrated because few other Pakistanis think like them. Are they an intellectual minority? Yes, but that is because they are a minority by caste. One great community of Pakistani Punjabi Khatris is called Chinioti. They are excellent at doing business but in a martial society they are the butt of jokes. I once heard Zia Mohyeddin tell a funny story about the cowardice of Chiniotis and I thought of how differently a Gujarati would look at the same story.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the latest on Emaar's Crescent Bay as reported by Express Tribune:

The Pakistan Defence Officers Housing Authority (DHA) and the Dubai-based international construction giant Emaar are at loggerheads over the much-advertised and much-delayed 108-acre Crescent Bay project in DHA Phase VIII’s waterfront zone E.

DHA has filed a petition against four companies — Emaar Giga International FZCO, Emaar Giga Karachi Limited, Emaar Properties PJSC and CEO Global Marketing Services (GMS) Shaukat Qureshi — in the Sindh High Court. It won a stay order on June 27 until the next hearing scheduled for July 12, The Express Tribune has learnt.

DHA and Emaar Giga International had signed a memorandum of understanding on May 20, 2004 to construct 46 towers in three ‘uniquely designed’ bays.

According to Emaar Pakistan’s website, each of these three bays was to be “encircled by a community with its own unique look and character, which extends from the architecture to the landscaping and the street furniture.” Crescent Bay One was set to feature a hotel, malls, a waterfront promenade, piazza, four office towers, surrounded by green spaces, parks and plazas. Crescent Bay Two was to house residential towers complete with a Waterfront Retail Arcade running along the beach. Crescent Bay Three was termed the most exclusive of the residential neighborhoods, with controlled vehicle access, and a luxurious waterfront promenade.

However, even though more than seven years have passed since the deal was inked, DHA contends that only two towers and that too only till the second floor have been constructed, even though Emaar has collected more than Rs1.5 billion from its customers in advance.

Moreover, out of the 110 people who were allotted plots in Crescent Bay, 100 of them are in litigation against Emaar and many of them are demanding their money back.

Sources in DHA said that their beef with Emaar was not only due to the fact that the international construction giant owes it Rs600 million, but also because “it was trying to create a DHA within DHA.”

DHA maintains that Emaar was trying to “clandestinely” sell Crescent Bay plots without its permission to “unauthorised parties.” The authority says it was “shocked” to learn through a letter on June 13, 2011 from CEO GMS Qureshi that his marketing company was working with Emaar Giga Karachi for the last 15 months to sell land that had been sub-let by DHA.

On June 25, 2011 DHA officers discovered GMS staff taking measurements and dimensions of the land, which the regulatory body believes was in clear violation of its agreement that mentions that no sale can move ahead unless DHA approves it. DHA immediately removed the GMS personnel from the site and took over possession of the land and the Crescent Bay project itself in “public interest”. It now wants to undertake construction of the two towers which, according to them, Emaar has abandoned.

Senior officials with DHA told The Express Tribune that it was extremely unfortunate that Emaar has not completed its commitments to the people, especially since there were huge expectations from them, given their expertise and long list of successful projects. Although DHA’s experience in mega construction projects is negligible compared to Emaar’s, it believes that with its experience of Creek Vista in Karachi, it can take off from where the international construction stopped....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on housing trends in Lahore, Pakistan: the middle class of the city has expanded, real estate developers have now increasingly begun to offer more affordable variants of the gated housing community, primarily by reducing the size of the average house. Builders predict the fastest growth in demand for the 125-square-yard duplex or townhouse, which is made affordable by offering an instalment plan for the full price, which can start as low as Rs1.2 million.

“The higher end of the market is saturated. Now the industry needs to cater to the rapidly growing middle class that is seeking comfortable housing facilities,” said Abdul Aleem Khan, who runs a real estate development business based out of Lahore.

“After completing one project with mostly larger units, I announced that I would build one with smaller, more affordable units and an easy instalment plan,” he said. “The response was very positive. People clearly need affordable housing and this [middle class] is a very neglected market segment.”

Eden Housing, one of the largest real estate companies in Pakistan, was the first to create such housing schemes in the 1990s, which typically include better roads and infrastructure than the rest of the city they are in. Since then, this formula has been copied by many developers, who saw how rapidly Eden was able to sell off its inventory.

“To live in such a community, which provides you with good infrastructure and security, is relaxing,” said Mujahid Ali, a resident of Eden Avenue, a gated community in Lahore developed by Eden Housing. “I moved here two years ago and have the peace of mind that there is no street crime or robberies within the scheme’s premises. My job requires me to visit other cities and I used to worry for my family’s safety. But since moving here, I can travel without that tension.”

Many of the facilities have hired a full-time staff of maintenance staff. The security is often provided by one of the more than 600 private security companies that now hire out both equipment and guards to a Pakistani middle class that is increasingly concerned for its safety.

Lahore has at least two dozen of these gated communities. In keeping with the temperament of the people in the Central Punjab region, there are hardly any apartments. Most of the housing units are bungalows, townhouses or duplexes. Some of the largest units can be spread over as much as 1,200 square yards, with the smallest ones generally being no more than 125 square yards. Other common sizes include 150 and 200 square yard units.

Builders often locate these communities close to major thoroughfares. Yet as real estate within Lahore proper grows increasingly scarce, many developers have begun to create such offerings on the outskirts of the city, taking advantage of the improvements in the transportation infrastructure in Punjab that includes a highway network comparable to that in some parts of the developed world. Once Lahore’s Ring Road is completed, such housing projects will be able to offer even faster access to the inner city.

Khan, the real estate developer, says that nearly all of the buyers of houses in these projects tend to be buying their own primary residences. “These schemes are not really meant for investors,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation story on awards for Bahria Town developments in Pakistan:

Bahria Town has won five highly prestigious awards under various categories in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the award ceremony for “Asia Pacific International Property Awards 2012-13”, the world’s most prestigious competition recognised as the highest standard of excellence throughout the global industry. Bahria Town was the only property developer from Pakistan to win the prestigious property awards. Out of the five accolades two received were in the “Five Star” category whilst the other three were ranked as “Highly Commended”, another great achievement and proud moment Bahria Town earns for Pakistan. The awards are a sure proof that Bahria Town standards are at par with the global standards, says a press release. Speaking on the achievement, Malik Riaz Hussain, Chairman Bahria Town, said “This is an extremely proud moment for not only Bahria Town but the entire nation. We are honored to be a part of a historical moment in real estate sector of Pakistan. The accolades are a testament of the exceptional standards maintained in all our developments. We will Inshallah continue to deliver world class projects exceeding everyone’s expectations.”

Bahria Golf City Islamabad triumphed with two Five Star honors. It won the “Best Five Star Golf Development” award for the master planning and provision of complete international standard facilities and amenities along with the 18-hole USGA standard golf course. While the Sheraton Golf & Country Club in Bahria Golf City won for “Best Five Star Leisure Architecture”. Bahria Golf City Islamabad is a branded golf resort community with Sheraton Hotel, villas, apartments and plots to be launched soon.

Bahria Town’s first project in Karachi, Bahria Town Icon, also to be Pakistan’s tallest high-rise building was ranked ”Highly Commended High-rise Architecture”. Green Valley, Pakistan’s first Premium Supermarket, also a project of Bahria Town with its flagship store at the Mall of Lahore, won a “Highly Commended Retail Interior” award for its outstanding retail environment.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Beast article on Bahria Town gated communities in Pakistan:

This unlikely playground for wealthy Muslims is the vision of Khan's boss and father-in-law, Malik Riaz Hussain, a 59-year-old billionaire Pakistani contractor. Set between the capital Islamabad and its sister city Rawalpindi, Bahria Town is the "masterpiece" of his 40-year career, a $6 billion project he has funded solo to avoid having to deal with outside investors. Its nine phases, too vast to fully appreciate without standing on one of the plateaus that overlook them, will one day mesh together into a planned residential city for 1 million people. The project broke ground in 1996, and already, many of the 50,000 luxury properties in the development are owned by wealthy Pakistan expatriates who swooped into Bahria Town after 9/11 to buy second homes amid fears they would be driven out of places like London, New York and Los Angeles. Equally important was the security and serenity that Bahria Town provides, which drew Pakistan expats and a smattering of wealthy Arab Muslims away from places like Dubai.

The complex offers amenities (24-hour armed security, schools, hospitals, a fire department, retail shopping, restaurants and entertainment centers) that go above and beyond those in many of the gated communities that have become so popular in countries from the United States to Brazil. Given the nation's security issues, it's especially easy to understand why the rich here want to cloister themselves. Rival Pakistani developers, including one owned by the military, have begun copying Hussain's vision, constructing their own gated communities in the suburbs of major Pakistani cities such as Karachi. Hussain himself is developing a second such site in Lahore, where former prime minister Nawaz Sharif already lives in a gated community called Model Town.

Hussain's original inspiration for the mega-community came from the pre-planned town of Reston, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. Materials and design inspiration have been imported from everywhere. In the center of roundabouts sit giant Spanish fountains costing $500,000 a pop; the main streets are lined with palm trees brought in from Thailand; grass for the local golf course comes from the U.S. state of Georgia; the education expert for the 1,100-acre university being built is from Seattle. "When I see America, when I see Britain, when I see Turkey, when I see Malaysia," Hussain says, "the only thing I think is, 'Why not Pakistan?' "

This is Hussain's key notion—that Bahria Town is a world away from Taliban and Qaeda militants, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and weekly suicide bombings. "This is the real Pakistan," Hussain told NEWSWEEK.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an LA Times story on gated communities in Pakistan:

Reporting from Rawalpindi, Pakistan — The houses and manicured lawns slope up the artificial hill edged by unbroken sidewalks and white picket fences, as children play and residents exchange pleasantries.

This sprawling subdivision called Bahria Town — "Come home to exclusivity," it boasts — operates its own garbage trucks, schools, firehouse, mosques, water supply and rapid-response force — a kind of functioning state within a nonfunctioning one. And all supplied without the bribes you'd pay on the outside, residents say.

"I like living here," said Abdul Rashid, a sixtysomething retired government worker. "It's like you're in a little protected country — tidy, utilities work, the family can relax. If there's any problem, you just ring up security."

The jarring presence of a middle- and upper-class retreat in this increasingly violent nation has been paved, in part, by the involvement of the country's powerful military. Benefiting from laws put in place during British Empire days to reward friendly armies and militias with land grants, the military now controls about 12% of Pakistani state land, by some accounts. And its privileged position allows it to partner with and otherwise route valuable tracts to favored developers.

Bahria Town and its partner, the military-run developer Defense Housing Authority, occupy twice as much land as Rawalpindi, the garrison city 30 minutes from the capital, Islamabad.

In the posh Safari Villas subdivision, past Sunset Avenue and College Road, Mohammad Javed, 69, surveys his pocket garden before heading into his three-bedroom corner house with a beige sofa ensemble and Samsung flat-screen TV. Houses in the neighborhood run from $25,000 to $60,000, well out of reach of most Pakistanis.

Bahria Town has been a hit not only with moneyed Pakistanis but also with returnees. Javed, who owned a gas station in Canada before retiring, hopes to replicate his North American lifestyle. Bahria's protective walls bring security, he said, although he still won't let his grown children visit lest something bad happen beyond its confines. "We meet in Thailand or Canada," he said.
"No one besides the military has such access," she said. Bahria Town advertised on a recent Sunday for retired major generals and lieutenant generals to fill positions at the company, Siddiqa said: "These are his keys" to greater access.

But for resident and food industry entrepreneur Shaheryar Eqbal, these are minor issues relative to what Bahria Town delivers.

"The government should take these communities as a model and replicate them," he said. "The army already has a joint venture with Bahria Town. Things work. Pakistan must get through this terrorism phase, but this could really be the future."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Express Tribune on Bahria Town projects in Karachi and Rawalpindi:

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan’s largest real estate company, Bahria Town (BT) on Sunday started the booking process for its residential plots in Karachi and Rawalpindi.
Under the project, the real estate giant will allot plots to more than 0.5 million people. On the first day of booking, more than 50 thousand people received the form against a fee of Rs1,000.
The demand was such that some people reportedly resold their forms at a profit.
People from all walks of life showed great interest in the BT project and long queues of citizens were seen at the booking offices till late at night.
Talking to Express News, people said even the VIPs were found standing in queues, and the credit for this went to the founder and chairman of Bahria Town, Malik Riaz Hussain.
The BT representative said Sunday was reserved for the distribution of forms for residential plots. “The booking forms for commercial plots will to be offered on Monday (today),” he added.

Riaz Haq said...

ISLAMABAD: Emaar Properties PJSC, listed on the Dubai Financial Market, is a global property developer with a significant presence in key markets world-wide. Besides building residential and commercial properties, the company also has proven competences in shopping malls & retail, hospitality & leisure and financial services sectors.

Emaar Pakistan is operating two projects under its belt Canyon Views Islamabad and Crescent Bay Karachi. Canyon views Islamabad is a housing society, projecting beautifully constructed, luxurious villas based on Mediterranean designs. The community layout follows that of a village, with each village having a separate gate, parks and a community swimming pool. The community provides its customers with options of choosing from plots, mixed use commercial and apartment complexes to the sale of three different types of villas, Miradors, Prados and Almas. Canyon Views Islamabad provides its residents with a wholesome lifestyle experience complemented by serviced amenities and commercial buildings. Crescent Bay Karachi on the other hand, is a seafront wonder, entailing the construction of luxurious apartment towers along the bay of the city. It is planned to be a construction marvel for Pakistan and the world to see. The magnificence of Crescent Bay has already surfaced itself on Google Earth, making the project visible through satellite images. Emaar has gained worldwide repute for its quality under taking and innovative styles of buildings and lay outs. Taking Canyon Views forward, it is an exclusive gated community spread over 350 acres of land, accommodating over 3000 units. The community projects a mix of natural attractions combined with exceptional architecture and the finest leisure facilities. The project is serving as a benchmark in developing master-planned communities. Once completed, it shall be a commitment to our promise of providing landmark lifestyles and shall change the real estate scene in the country.