* Chow Tai Fook Endowment buys into Dubai Pearl
* Project was slowed by market crash, now revived
* To be completed in 2017
* May mark start of wave of Chinese investment
* Follows deal by China State Construction Engineering Corp
(Adds analyst and banker comment)
By Mirna Sleiman
DUBAI, Feb 3 Real estate developer Dubai Pearl
said on Monday it had sold property assets worth $1.9 billion to
a Hong Kong-based investor, in a sign of increasing Chinese
interest in Dubai's booming property market.
Chow Tai Fook Endowment Industry Investment Development
(Group) Ltd, a partner of China's Ministry of Civil Affairs,
bought serviced apartments, high-end residences and two
five-star hotels, Dubai Pearl said in an emailed statement.
The properties are part of the 20 million square foot Dubai
Pearl complex, which is now under development and will include a
shopping mall and offices as well as residential space. It is
due to be completed in 2017.
Originally launched in 2008, the project was slowed for
years by Dubai's real estate market crash of 2008-2010, but is
now proceeding as the market recovers, with residential property
prices jumping about 20 percent last year.
"I think this is the beginning of a major wave of investment
interest for major Chinese and other Asian investors in the
Dubai property market," Victor Chu, chief executive of First
Eastern Investment Group, a Hong Kong-based investment firm,
"This is mainly driven by the Chinese investors' desire for
global diversification into markets and sectors where they are
welcome and can add value, and Dubai's property sector neatly
falls into this category."
Consultants Jones Lang LaSalle said in a report last year
that Chinese and South Korean investment in the United Arab
Emirates' real estate sector was expected to increase because of
growing trade and other business cooperation between the
Last June, China State Construction Engineering Corp
(CSCEC), one of the world's largest construction firms, said it
had agreed to invest in a $1 billion resort project in Dubai,
its first real estate investment in the Middle East.
CSCEC did not specify how much money its Middle Eastern arm
would put into the Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah project, on which
it is the main contractor. Developed by SKAI Holdings, a
Dubai-based real estate investment firm, that project will
include a hotel and furnished residences, and is to be completed
Yu Tao, chief executive of CSCEC's regional arm, said such
projects could appeal to the rising number of Chinese
individuals interested in real estate and other alternative
Deepak Jain, head of strategic planning at Jones Lang
LaSalle in Dubai, said Chinese investment was particularly
strong in the emirate's retail sector and could evolve to
include more investment in the hotel and tourism industries.
"Chinese investors are interested in investing in Africa and
they see Dubai as a staging ground or a hub between both
continents," Jain said.
He added, "The Chinese have the potential to become one of
the top five nationalities in terms of investing in Dubai, along
with Indians, Saudis and the Russians" - though that would
depend on factors including the long-term outlook for Dubai and
China's own economic growth.
(Editing by Andrew Torchia)