Focus on future of Dubai at Cityscape conference

The likely impact of Expo 2020 on Dubai’s hospitality sector was the subject of an address by HE Hesham Al Qassim, CEO of wasl Asset management who spoke at the Cityscape Global Conference.

He took the stage at Dubai’s Conrad Hotel for the event which served as a build up to the exhibition itself, which starts tomorrow (Tuesday) at the city’s World Trade Centre and also gave his thought on the wider real estate market.

“We aligned ourselves with the targets and the vision laid down when the Expo award was announced,” said Al Qassim. “One of the first steps was to build more hotels – 15 before 2020. 13 of these will be three and four star while the other two will be five star.”

He told the audience that a greater emphasiss needed to be placed on the three and four star accommodation availability.

During the one-on-ones interview at the event host Richard Dean asked his guest to expand on what he felt were the economic prospects for Dubai over the coming years.

“The real estate market is softening,” said Dean. “So how do you read the economy?”

Al Qassim said: “There are lots of factors to take into account. I think it is a time in which the economy is undergoing a form of correction [adjusting to a stable level]. Realistically what we can see is oil, gold, interest rates – they all contribute to form a stable economy. This correction of the market, I think, will continue through 2016 and in 2017 we will see another period of growth.”

He called on developers to ensure they build what it is purchasers need – including a greater number of affordable homes.

And he added people are still drawn to Dubai: “the city has become a brand. It is an experience for the visitor from the moment of entering the Emirates Airlines cabin to the arrival at Dubai Airport and the immigration people who are the most welcoming anywhere. Then the journey in a taxii or on the Metro to the hotel. It is a great experience to visit the city.

“This is the story of Dubai – a story led by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.”