Dubai's $8B Wholesale City courts investors for phase one of development
The overall project could take anywhere up to 15 years to develop into its full potential. (File photo)
The emergence of the 550 million square feet Dubai Wholesale City in Jebel Ali will not in any way impact on the city’s other free zones, given that its entire focus will be on just one facet, according to a top official.
“That means there will be no space for logistics or manufacturing that the other free zones are doing — and we will be screening all of our tenant and land-lease applicants before taking them on,” said CEO Abdulla Belhoul. “This will be purely in the business of wholesale.”
The City is creating clusters built around the needs of the food, automotive, electronics and other categories. It has just opened submissions for land-lease of a certain number of plots, where some of the verticals — such as electronics suppliers — would be accommodated. Through showrooms and warehouses, the first phase of construction and delivery would take three to four years.
The scope of the City truly boggles the mind, at least for now when it is still in the initial phase of development. The cost of creating it alone would top a staggering Dh30 billion. And the overall project could take anywhere up to 15 years to develop into its full potential.
All of Dubai’s industrial, logistics, warehousing free zones and business parks continue to do well, with record low vacancy levels, according to market sources. Recent investments such as Rasmala’s in Dubai Investments Park assets attest to the interest institutional investors are placing in such assets.
For the first phase, investors need to apply for a minimum of 20,000 square feet. As regards the upper limit, “there are no limits,” Belhoul said.
On whether it started the leasing programme for Phase 1 too early, Belhoul said: “The Wholesale City concept has been in the works for five years with technical studies and other stuff. Even though it was formally announced only this year, we felt we had done enough preparatory work to start leasing. And the response has been what we had expected.”
Future phases will see food wholesale becoming a key part of the activity. Access to the ports and other access networks will be a huge plus for the City, sources said.
And Belhoul intends to create all of the accompanying requirements such as worker accommodation that the City will need once it is in full swing.
By Manoj Nair
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