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UDC signs $428m loan deal with QN

UDC   PearlFrom Construction Week Online

United Development Company (UDC), the builder of the Pearl-Qatar development, has announced that it has signed a $428.5m (QR: 1.56bn) loan deal with Qatar National Bank.

The company said that the money would be used to buy the remaining residential units it does not already own at the Qanat Quartier district on The Pearl from the Cayman Island-based Pearl-Qatar Real Estate Shariah-Compliant Fund comany once the lifespan of the fund ends.

PearlIn February, the company’s chairman chairman Jussein Alfardan said that he expects a 2013 to be a year of “continued progress” under a new management team. Since then, it has announced the signing of a $218m deal to build the two 40-storey Abraj Quartier towers on the Pearl, which will have a built-up area of more than 230,000m2.

The towers are expected to complete in January 2016.

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Pearl owner says alcohol ban has boosted visits

by Francesca Astorri, From Construction Week Online

A controversial ban on alcohol at Qatar’s manmade Pearl-Qatar development has not impacted negatively on the project as visitor numbers to the area have increased and the developer is in talks to launch more restaurants, retail outlets, a cinema and a supermarket, a senior executive has said.

When the ban on the sale of alcohol was introduced in December 2011 some restaurants reported revenues had slumped by up to 50%, with others being forced to close within a matter of months.

Despite this, Ehab Kamel, general manager of retail leasing at the Pearl Qatar, argued the development actually registered an increase in visitors over the last year and a half. “The traffic of people increased, it (the alcohol ban) reflects very positively,” Kamel said.

In January, British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay weighed in on the row, which led to the closure of his Maze restaurant in March 2012 after just two years of operation.

“I think the legislation in terms of operating restraints – going out for dinner and not being allowed to have a glass of wine – I think it’s one turn-off for any local,” he was quoted as saying by Doha News.

Earlier this year, real estate firm DTZ Middle East Head of Valuation, Edward Brookes, also said lifting the ban on alcohol on Pearl-Qatar could lead to a resurgence in the number of tourists patronising the development.

Kamel said developer UDC, which last month reported its net profits for the first quarter rose 16% year-on-year to $63m (QR: 229m), was in talks to boost the retail and food and beverage options available on the Pearl Qatar.

“We are signing with Ali Bin Ali for luxury watches and jewelry, we are doing the design of the store and discussing to take more brands… We are discussing with Blue Saloon as well,” Kamel said.

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