Dubai Holding sidelines $20 bln property project

DUBAI, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Dubai Holding has put on hold plans to develop Jumeirah Central, its $20 billion office, retail and residential project in the heart of Dubai, it said on Monday.

“Dubai Holding is prioritising projects that will be ready for Expo 2020 Dubai and those that will help draw tourists to the emirate. As a result, we are currently focusing our resources on projects such as Marsa Al Arab,” it said.

Dubai is hoping to attract 20 million visitors a year by 2020 when it will host the World Expo 2020 exhibition.

But the large number of existing malls, hotels and other property schemes, combined with subdued growth in the emirate’s economy, has raised concerns among some industry observers about the risk of overcapacity if the pace of development is not carefully managed.

In May, Dubai Holding unveiled plans to build Marsa Al Arab, a 6.3 billion dirham ($1.7 billion) tourist resort on two man-made islands it will build either side of the Burj Al Arab, the luxury sail-shaped hotel.

The decisions follow an overhaul of Dubai Holding’s leadership earlier this year, with a change of chairman and chief executive. Abdulla al-Habbai, who is also chairman of real estate developer Meraas Holding, was in March appointed as chairman of Dubai Holding.

Dubai Holding said it was still committed to Jumeirah Central and it was still being worked on internally, but the project was currently being re-evaluated to meet expected future market demand. The market would be updated about the project in due course, it added.

It said the decision had led to a restructuring of the organisation, including the departure of chief operating officer Morgan Parker.

Located between some of Dubai’s existing landmarks of Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah and Mall of the Emirates, Jumeirah Central will include 4.1 million square metres of office, retail, hospitality and residential space, according to Dubai Holding’s website.

$1 = 3.6729 UAE dirham Reporting by Tom Arnold; Editing by Mark Potter