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Rakeen begins Lebanon realty sales.

Byline: Suzanne Fenton, Staff Reporter

Dubai: Lebanon might be the new property hotspot with many UAE-based developers going there with big plans for development.

Developers Emaar, Al Habtoor and Damac have plans to develop in Lebanon.

The majority of real-estate investment activities in Lebanon are stimulated predominantly by foreign Arab investors, expatriates and also Lebanese residents.

UAE investors have plunged around $1.1 billion (Dh4.04 billion) into Lebanon's property sector, making up around 41.9 per cent of total Arab investments in the country in 2008, according to a report by the Inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation.

Property prices in the country have been resilient, with a relatively moderate decline of around 10 to 15 per cent, making it attractive to regional and international investors, the report said.

A property expert based in Lebanon said that due to the financial crisis, many Lebanese are now returning home, increasing the demand for housing.

"UAE developers are going into Lebanon for various reasons - first of all, Lebanon real estate is booming. Over the past year, the increase has been over 30 per cent per square metre and there is a lot of demand for both small apartments and luxurious ones, as well as new styles such as lofts," Raya Mamarbachi, director of a Lebanon-based property portal, Simplyzigzag.com, told Gulf News.

Tourism in the country is also rocketing and foreign direct investment is on the increase, she added.

Property developer Rakeen said on Wednesday that it had begun sales of its residential project in Beit Merri near Beirut.

This is Rakeen's first venture into Lebanon's rapidly growing real estate market.

The Beit Merri Sunset development comprises 10 villas and nine apartments divided between two blocks.

One block will have three apartments, each of 370 square metres and the second block will contain six apartments, each unit being 250 square metres.

It is not clear what the project value is, however, it is due for completion in two years.

The developer recently opened a subsidiary in Beirut in March 2009 to manage the project onsite.

"We want Beit Merri to cement its rightful place as one if the best holiday retreats for Gulf residents.

"It has beautiful views overlooking Beirut and the Mediterranean Sea with its & pleasant climate and a growing tourism business. This project is also a great opportunity for Rakeen to showcase the potential of its eco-conscious development concept," said Jeremy Savory, commercial director at Rakeen.

Real estate and construction have been key contributors to Lebanon's economy.

Sales over the past five years have grown at an average rate of 17.6 per cent, and the number of construction permits issued rose at an average rate of 12.6 per cent annually in the same period, according to last month's edition of the Lebanon Real Estate Report.

Because of the slowdown in construction here in the UAE, some developers and contractors are exploring other regions, in particular emerging markets, such as Saudi Arabia and north Africa.

"As a person of Lebanese origin, I consider the Beit Merri Sunset a very special development since I am familiar with the charm and natural beauty of the area.

We wanted to add something different to the community, something that harmonises a modern lifestyle, peaceful living and indulgence," explained Gassan Yousuf, managing director of Rakeen.

"So far we are on track to deliver what I consider a dream come true for myself, for our company and for this project's future residents."

Lebanon blossoming

$1.1b spent by UAE investors in property market 15% approximate drop in property prices 17.6% growth in property sales over five years

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Aug 22, 2009
Words:621
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