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Developer Buys Land for Abu Dhabi Luxury Resort

Developer Buys Land for Abu Dhabi Luxury Resort

An UAE developer has purchased a 91,000-square-meter land plot on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat island and plans to build a luxury resort on the site.

The complex will include 366 rooms, luxury villas, a conference facility for 800 guests and a "unique sand-bottom swimming pool," according to the Bin Otaiba Investment Group, the developer behind the Hilton Sharjah and the Millennium Hotel Abu Dhabi.

Bin Otaiba is "currently in the final stage of appointing a well-renowned operator," according to a release from Abu Dhabi's Tourism Development & Investment Company, the master planner of Saadiyat. No price was announced for the purchase.

Saadiyat_Bin-Otaiba-Investment-Group.jpgThe new development will provide a needed boost for Saadiyat, which is designed as the UAE capital's center for culture and tourism. Covering 27 square kilometers, Saadiyat is the site of the branch of the Louvre designed by Jean Nouvel, as well as the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi designed by Frank Gehry and the Zayed National Museum, created by Norman Foster.

All three projects were delayed when the Abu Dhabi government put a hold on construction projects, but were restarted in 2012. The Louvre is currently under construction and is expected to be the first of the three museums to open.

The hotel and residential areas of the island have also been slow to develop. Last year TDIC announced reported an AED2.1billion ($571.8 million) loss last year, almost double the loss the government agency reported in 2011.

With sales slow, most of the existing Saadiyat developments have focused on rentals. But activity has been increasing in the last year.

Apartments in the first phase of the Residences at The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort are fully leased, Ahmed Al Fahim, executive director of marketing for TDIC, recently told Khaleej Times. Construction of the third phase of the Saadiyat Beach Villas, consisting of 77 villas, will start later this year; 80 percent have been sold, he said. The second phase of the Saadiyat Beach Residences, which includes 210 apartments, is expected to be completed in the third quarter.

In June, Mubadala Pramerica Real Estate Investors -- a joint venture between the government-backed Mubadala Development Company and Pramerica Real Estate Investors, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Prudential Financial, Inc. -- bought the first phase of the Saadiyat Beach Residences, consisting of 285 apartments. Launched in 2012, the apartments are 90 percent leased, TDIC says.

News of a third-party developer, Bin Otaiba Investment Group, buying property for a resort is evidence of growing investor interest in Saadiyat, TDIC says.

"We are pleased with the high level of interest we continuously receive from reputable global and regional investors keen on becoming part of Saadiyat and its emerging success story," Ali Al Hammadi, deputy managing director of TDIC, said in the release. "The sale of this land plot to Bin Otaiba Investment Group reassures the leading position of Saadiyat as a strategic location for investment and an ideal residential and tourism destination."

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