Monday, 11 October 2010

More Cattle, Less Class – Matt in United Arab Emirates – Part 3 of 4

On Saturday I ran out of things to do.

I didn’t want to go shopping, didn’t have ski gloves to go skiing (did consider this) and I was sunburnt so couldn’t really go outside. Again, one of our suppliers came to my rescue and took us all to the beach for sunset and a cheeky glass of iced Limoncelloerm I mean Coca Cola, had a swim and enjoyed watching the very cool kite surfing – I reckon about 20 kites out – going to have to try it at some point.

I was amazed to hear how so many ex-pats never ever go to the beach despite it probably being one of the lifestyle benefits in the UAE in the first place – there are an awful lot of people living a fully air-conditioned lifestyle which seems just plain crazy in my opinion, although it does get very very hot out here and it hasn’t really cooled off completely yet.

Well rested for a change, I headed to Cityscape Global early and slipped in to the conference with a bunch of VIPs by striding through with my name badge flipped the wrong way. Had a great time following his highness, Sheikh Mohammed’s son around the show and watching the 60 or so strong entourage crowding around whilst the press snapped his photo at different stands.

It was, however, the smallest show I have seen there in nine years. It wasn’t global – in fact it was hyper-local if anything, main developers and government depts. from Abu Dhabi even electing to not take space. The other notable thing was that most of the projects on display were already completed… Individual buildings were flogging apartments which seriously downgraded the quality of the event.

I don’t know what the organisers expected, but making a switch to “global” last minute meant, from what I could see, that they were able to sell possibly one or two more stands – one from Paris and randomly, Invest in Ireland, who really didn’t look like they should be there, but in fairness they were busy!!

The usual scousers (I’ve seen them every year for nine years albeit there were less of them) were flogging Carribean pipe dreams to unsuspecting investors - it was the Cayman Islands last year. Guys, you really need to stop wearing shiny suits and you might pull in a few more Brits… “Why wait to buy land when you can buy land and wait?” Hmm let me think for a minute - cashflow, no access to funding, it will tie up what little capital you have or perhaps it’s just a plain daft, high risk idea?? Guaranteed they’ll have a viable answer for all but the last one, so I’ll stick with that thanks…

There were none of the usual suspects from the UK or Australia architecture scene – Aedas, Benoy, Hyder, SOM, Woods Bagot, Gensler and Fosters were all notable in their absence – all of which had stands last year.

I did hook up with the directors of RMJM who were attending as delegates and still have a lot on in the region who kindly introduced me to the guys at Davis Langdon, sorry AECOM, well it will be by the time I post this…

I did better at Longs Bar, watching the Ryder Cup finale which was very kindly laid on for us thanks to the weather in Wales extending it to an extra day (who would ever lay on an outdoor, weather dependent event in the middle of October in Wales and think it was a smart move? Maybe it was the same organisers as the Commonwealth games again??) Anyway, met a nice chap who is going to introduce me to some guys at a big property fund I’ve been targeting so that was great and a good round off to the evening.

To be continued....

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