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French Version

UAE - Dubai firm unveils plans for $120 million tower in Beirut

Dubai-based DAMAC Properties announced a $120 million project to build a luxury apartment tower in Downtown Beirut, the company's first real-estate investment outside the United Arab Emirates.

The 27-story building at the intersection of Fakhreddin and Omar Daouk Streets will include 70 apartments, the company said.

Hussain Sajwani, chairman of DAMAC Holding, also said the company is planning to invest $500 million in Beirut in the next four years despite political instability that has gripped the country for most of 2005.

Sajwani said the firm has initiated an international architectural competition to design the building.

He said construction on the tower should begin within the first few months of 2006 and be completed by 2009.

DAMAC's investment in Beirut is part of an effort to seek investment outside the Dubai, where real estate prices have roughly doubled in the past two years, raising fears of an unsustainable property bubble.

"We're looking for new investments from India to Morocco," Sajwani said. "I'm happy that the deal moved forward here faster than the others."

"Beirut has all the right ingredients. It's a center for tourism and there is a lot of demand for new properties."

DAMAC Properties, a subsidiary of DAMAC Holdings, has properties worth over $3 billion in the Emirates and is Dubai's largest privately-owned property developer. It has holdings in the city's major developments, such as Dubai Marina, Palm Island Jumeirah, Palm Island Jebel Ali, and Dubai-land.

DAMAC's purchase is one of the largest of the year for Solidere, the real-estate firm founded by the late Rafik Hariri which owns much of Beirut's city center. Solidere is engaged in a multi-billion-dollar project to develop Beirut's Downtown area, focusing on a 10,000-square-meter commercial center set to open in Downtown in 2006.

The company has been riding a real-estate boom in the Gulf which drove Solidere's third-quarter profits up 28.5 percent to $28.05 million.

Solidere shares, which plunged as low as $5.84 this year after Hariri's murder, closed at $13.56 for "A" shares and $13.38 for "B" shares Tuesday.

Beirut,12 05 2005
The Daily Star
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