Dubai forfeited freehold properties on auction

The Dubai property market is experiencing a strong interest from buyers in good quality, well positioned and well-designed properties. According to Property Wire the average villa sales growth are at 0.7 and the development market is also showing signs that it is coming out of hibernation.

The Dubai Land Department (DLD) has started auctioning freehold properties forfeited from defaulters. In a first major auction, five properties in The Springs and Jumeirah Islands sold by November 28.

HumaidOmran Al Shamsi, Head of Auctions, DLD, told XPRESS: “We are auctioning freehold properties in Dubai. Some of these have been mortgaged to banks. The auctions are a way to clear the market. These properties come through Dubai courts for auction and the proceeds go back to the courts. They have a process in place to return it to the banks.”

Five properties that were auctioned in November, four of these were sold at a higher price than the expected base rate.

Of these was a1,800-square-footsprings villa which went for Dh1.306 million against a base price of Dh1.1 million. It was purchased by an Indian businessman VimalBansal who stated “This property is for my personal use and since I felt the price was right, I successfully bid on it.”

A more detailed example of what occurred during the auction is as follows. A 3,511-square-foot three-bedroom (Type 3E) villa in Springs 11, with a partial lake view, was sold for Dh1.82 million against a base price of Dh1.5 million. An unanticipated bid was for a property in Jumeirah Islands that was sold for Dh5.4 million against a base price of Dh3.5 million; this was a 10,637square-foot four-bedroom villa, which also has a separate study room. It went for.

The buyer of this marvellous property, Amar S. Dhir of Castles Plaza Real Estate said, “This is a good property in a good location and hence it went for such a high bid. We will be re-selling the property as soon as we get the papers,”

It is clear that buyers can start expecting more auctions in the near future.

“The properties being auctioned have been passed by the courts. This means that the docket of defaulting properties is finally starting to clear. If that is the case, it is a positive development.” LudmilaYamalova, Managing Partner, HPL Yamalova&Plewka

“On November 28, we auctioned a property at the Land Department. There are a few properties repossessed by ADCB that are being lined up with the Land Department for auction. The DLD public auction is a welcome step for all UAE banks. This will instil better confidence in the mortgage market and give rise to structured lending practices. The proceeds from the auction will be applied to offset the loan outstanding, including charges, and provisions reversed.” SundarParthasarathy, Executive Vice President, Head-Consumer Assets, Consumer Banking Group, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB).


South Africa moving towards renewable energy

South Africa is ready to make its mark in the renewable energy sector. The World Bank has recently granted a $250-million (R1.5- billion) loan through its Clean Technology Fund to South African power utility names Eskom;

the companies’ goal is to help the country to reduce its reliance on coal-based power generation and depend more on renewable energy. Eskom will be developing a wind and solar plant, namely; a 100 megawatt solar power plant in Upington with is in the North Cape Province and also a 100-megwatt wind power project, which is in the Western Cape just north of Cape Town.
These two renewable energy projects will be the largest that have ever been attempted in the entire African continent. Eskom predicts that the construction of the 100-megawatt wind power project will start early in 2012.

Elbrahim Khan from Wesgro, the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency said “These investments are a breath of fresh air and it shows that South Africa is no longer just talking about renewable energy,”

He also added “The good news for South Africa is that there are serious ambitions to get our energy mix right and there are more renewable energy power projects in the pipeline that are to be funded by private investors.”

It is evident that for both the private and public, South Africa is fast becoming a preferred renewable energy investments destination; this is very good news for South Africa’s increasing electricity demands, emerging clean energy sector and the economy.

There are also certain key investment areas in the country; these are the Eastern Cape, Western Cape where investments are predominantly into wind and photovoltaic (PV) solar power and the Northern Cape Province which has been recognised as the best area for concentrated solar power (CSP) technology, this technology uses mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, or solar thermal energy onto a small area, this usually takes place with rotating panels.

South Africa certainly has the potential to develop itself into a major player in the clean energy sector. This is clear by the substantial amount of interest that has been shown by investors in recent months.

“We are going for renewable energy in a big way,” Khan said

Dubai a safe Haven in difficult times

The global market may have been hit hard in the 2008-2009 global financial and debt crisis, but the latest international financial turmoil and the 2011 political unrest sweeping across parts of the Arabian region has proven fortuitous for Dubai, which is now largely regarded as a safe haven! As its tourism and service industry have experienced substantial growth during this period, individuals and companies are looking towards Dubai as a key Gulf business hub.


The attraction of Dubai is that it was one of the first Emirates in the UAE to move away from oil as its main source of income. This has allowed it to methodically and determinedly work at transforming itself from an oil rich country into an important trade centre and business port. The financial crisis of 2008-2009 hit the lively city at a time when it was borrowing a lot to build enormous projects, including the world’s tallest towers and the largest man-made islands.

With the disappearance of foreign investors by the end of 2008, transaction volumes plummeted leaving Dubai with its gross domestic product dropping 2.4 per cent. Along with a rapidly increasing debt, Dubai World was forced to freeze payments on approx. $26 billion. With fears of a sovereign debt default about to unfold, the UAE’s two largest home finance companies also stopped offering new loans. The two mortgage lenders accounted for more than 50% of all mortgages in the country.

In 2010 Dubai started a moderate recovery, as the city co-ordinated efforts by reorganising its debt position and quarantining all problem assets. Having learnt from its past experiences, Dubai’s attraction to outside investors and companies especially now the Eurozone is being overwhelmed by its own escalating debt crisis is further solidifying the Emirate’s continued recovery.

According to TRI Hospitality Consulting the tourism and hotel sector in Dubai has seen a strong increase at the beginning of 2011 as the Arab spring has encouraged international and regional tourists to travel to safer destinations. This trend showed high occupancy during summer months, when many tourists avoided the troubled holiday destinations such as Egypt and Syria.

Manufacturing processes such as transportation and logistics from international companies now also provided Dubai with enough leverage to increase its strengths, diversify its economy further and build global competitiveness. These sectors represent an essential part of the economy’s recovery as it comprises of 10.4 per cent of non-oil GDP. (Nabeel Ebrahim, Abu Dhabi University Chancellor)

The trade sector of Dubai has also experienced growth, and according to EFG-Hermes the container traffic improved by 11 per cent in the first quarter of 2011.

“The UAE has remained relatively immune to contagion from recent political unrest in the region. The IMF went further to say that the UAE may actually gain from the current turmoil through increased tourism, as well as from companies relocating to the UAE’s favourable business environment, which now boasts affordable real estate with relatively good infrastructure.” International Monetary Fund, 2011


Renewable Energy wins the race against fossil fuels

Global investments in renewable energy have exceeded fossil fuels for the first time, last year was also the first time that expenditure in developing countries has surpassed that in the industrialized world, said Steve Sawyer, secretary-general of the Brussels-based Global Wind Energy Council.  “Predicting both trends will continue.”

Achim Steiner, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Environment Program said in an interview “The progress of renewables has been nothing short of remarkable; you have record investment in the midst of an economic and financial crisis.”

Even without a global agreement on limiting greenhouse gasses, findings have shown that the world is in fact moving towards consuming more renewable energy. Delegates from more than 190 nations these including representatives from the world’s governments, international organizations and civil society converge in Durban, South Africa, from Nov. 28 to 9 Dec. 2011 to discuss new procedures that can be put into place to limit emissions that are damaging the climate.

This debate in South Africa’s third-largest city will include the establishment of a fund that will channel on a yearly basis, an unstated share of $100 billion in climate aid to developing countries by 2020, this being vowed by the richer nations. Also on the agenda will be monitoring and verifying the emissions cuts by all nations, as well as constructing a mechanism that will transfer CO2-reducing technology between countries

As said by Robert Stavins, Director of Environmental Economics at Harvard University “It’s impossible to punt any further down the line a decision regarding a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, those discussions will dominate, and the process could become paralyzed.”

Connie Hedegaard, EU Climate Commissioner said during an interview  “Kyoto is unlikely to see an extension due to its current form, thus the  27-nation EU bloc will be pushing for a clear path towards charting, where countries will have to make legally binding commitments.”

The EU accounts for 11 per cent of all global emissions and are seeking to reach a new and expanded agreement with the world’s biggest emitters.

“With current policies in place, global temperatures are set to increase 6 degrees Celsius, which has catastrophic implications. If as of 2017 there is not a start of a major wave of new and clean investments, the door to 2 degrees will be closed.” as told by Faith Birol, IEA Chief

Africa as blank canvas for renewable energy

Africa currently offers an enormous potential for generating renewable energy by possessing untapped resources for wind, solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower, this is both an opportunity for the continent and the rest of the world.
According to Divid nickols, managing director of WSP Future Energy, Most African countries get their power from diesel generators due to the lack of comprehensive grid connections reaching prices of around $1 per kilowatt-hour, whereas solar photovoltaic power costs less than 20 cents per kwh.

“Because renewables [in Africa] are compared against decentralized diesel generators off-grid, the financials for renewables may well look attractive,” he also said

For the establishment of larger-scale projects novel cross-border collaboration will be necessary between the relevant African governments, multilateral institutions and industry, which will in fact create a model for other regions of the world.

“In terms of pure political and economic power, conditions still favor investment in fossil-fuel-based technologies and businesses,” says James Cameron, a founder and vice chairman of Climate Change Capital in London.

The Wall Street Journal Europe has identified five approaches to sustainable energy in Africa;

The harnessing of wind has the benefit of producing effective power as there is a plentiful supply of wind all over the African continent, where projects are already under development in areas such as Kenya, Cape Verde and Morocco, the continent known as leader in wind projects, a tender was acquired for renewable power projects and it included the installation of wind generation of up to 1.85 gigawatts that is to be delivered by 2030.

The African continent is renowned for its abundance of virtually continuous sunshine, which is a commodity that can be used to the worlds advantage and the future of solar energy. There are currently a number of projects that are based in the Sahara Desert, the largest project being the €400 billion ($550 billion) 12-member German-led Desertec Industrial Initiative consortium, they are also considering to fund a chain of different solar projects with the goal reachable which is to serve as much as 17% of Europe’s energy demand.  By concentrating energy from solar-thermal power plants in the Sahara Desert Desertec is then able to use heat storage tanks to transport the power on demand, this compensates for the various fluctuations of photovoltaic power and aids in the stabilisation of the grid.

With German Chancellor Angela Merkel leading the charge in the project, it has a solid backing from leaders across Europe, she also acclaims the cooperation that is taking place between Europe and North Africa, and presses that the diversification of energy transmission should move away from traditional sources.

Africa has vast river systems, which opens a world of opportunities for renewable energy through Hydropower.  According to London-based World Energy Council, the Grand Inga Dam project is expected produce around 39,00 megawatts of electricity, by planning to harness the immense potential of the Inga Falls on the Congo River, which is in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to United Nations Environment Program and the research conducted by the U.S. Geothermal Energy Association, geothermal power sources are extending across the Rift Valley from Ethiopia to Mozambique. There is thus the belief that these sources could  support the entire regions power demands and is estimated that there could be as much as 7 gigawatts of geothermal energy generated. The first geothermal project called Olkaria fields was established almost two decades ago in Kenya. According to UNEP, 40% of Kenya’s total power demand is expected to derive from geothermal energy.


Renewable energy to steer mining

An increasingly economically viable option for the mining industry is the development of green mining initiatives and more environment-friendly projects.


Mining companies have not been able to work sparingly with energy as they grind ore, but the increasing cost of energy has miners turn to renewable energy to cut costs. The rise of electricity prices is impacting on existing and future operations and many mining houses are examining the long-term cost curve of energy and challenges to the sustainability of the mine going forward. Around 25 percent of production costs represent energy and companies like Barrick Gold Crop., Teck Resources Ltd. and Rio Tinto PLC has ambitious wind-farm projects in motion that will reduce energy costs and provide the much-needed social benefit of reducing their environmental footprint. Environmental compliance and future cost considerations will become a mainstream business requirement and will impact on the mining industry. In South Africa, at AngloGold Ashanti/Motjoli Resource Mining for Change workshop, Pan-African Capital CE Dr Iraj Abedian advocated the concept of mining and managing the environment as a joint production activity that could dovetail with other pursuits like the agriculture and light industry. Solar, Wind and other renewable energy projects are considered to clean up their operations and investments are being made to work towards a greener mining industry. Emerging coal company Ecca Group CEO Dale Packham says investment access is more readily available for environment-friendly projects. The concept of green finance and responsible investing has resulted in investors examining whether a company of mine is as suitable as they should be. The world’s largest gold miner, Barrick Gold Corp is moving ahead with alternative energy projects, and has inaugurated its $70-million Punta Colorada wind operation, the first wind farm built by a mining company in Chile. Barrick’s vice president of environment said, “It’s a good opportunity for our guys in south America to get first-hand experience with what it takes to operate wind farms long-term. Our position right now as a company is really one of looking at the future, trying to understand a bit about where the energy market is going, but also trying to understand where government is taking us regarding climate change.”

Sustainable energy source; Miscanthus

The word’s dwindling supply of oil and coal resources has intensified the search for alternative, sustainable energy.   A perennial grass, Miscanthus Giganteus could effectively reduce our dependence on fossil fuel, while lowering atmospheric carbon dioxide.


The word’s dwindling supply of oil and coal resources has intensified the search for alternative, sustainable energy.   A perennial grass, Miscanthus Giganteus could effectively reduce our dependence on fossil fuel, while lowering atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Using a simulation tool that models the future global climate, researchers predicts energy crop, Miscanthus can repair the carbon that is released into the atmosphere from the loss of natural vegetation within 30 years.

According to scholars from the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan, the long perennial grass may become a sustainable and environmental-friendly energy source.  “As the world is faced with a serious resources shortage, the search for alternative energy should be a nation’s top priority. Miscanthus, known as elephant grass, has already been grown in Europe and based on an Irish study, if 10 percent of growing land in Europe is planted with Miscanthus, it can generate about 9 – 10 percent of total electricity needs in the European Union countries,” said Tzen-Yueh Chaing, professor of life sciences.

Miscanthus can be found in several areas in Taiwan; the rapid growing grass has a low mineral content and salt-proof characteristic.  The energy grass can save energy and reduce carbon emissions, it is also very profitable, once planted it can be harvested year after year for 20 years.  In comparison with heating oil it can reduce heating cost by as much as 50 percent.  One hectare of Miscanthus yields twelve to 20 tons per year and provides an energy yield of about 6,000 liters of heating oil.

“In Taiwan, one hectare of land can produce 38 tons of Miscanthus to replace the most commonly used oil,” said Wen-Teng Wu, director of the energy research centre.

According to Wu, burning one ton of coal will lead to 2.62 tons in carbon dioxide emission, whereas this wild grass can absorb carbon dioxide without polluting the air.

The high energy balance of Miscanthus Giganteus is associated with a high carbon balance for the crop. Calculations put the Miscanthus Giganteus carbon ratio at 53:1 (Renewable Energy World, 2011). This means that, of the carbon contained in the fuel, for every one part of man-made carbon input needed to grow and harvest it, 53 parts are absorbed by the crop from the environment.