Page last updated at 22:00 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 23:00 UK

Sudan defies world property slump

By Ala Subh
BBC Arabic

New building in Khartoum
The Al Fateh Hotel is a sign of change in Sudan

BBC correspondents from around the world are taking the pulse of the world economy, and this week they are focusing on the state of the property market.

Despite the international financial crisis, the Sudanese real estate market in the capital, Khartoum, is booming.

Many local and foreign companies from UAE, Qatar and Malaysia are investing in the real estate, attracted by a boom fuelled by rising oil production and the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 between Khartoum and former rebels in southern Sudan.

The skyline of the Sudanese capital Khartoum has noticeably changed in the last few years.

Small buildings are disappearing and new high-rises are being built in their place.

Construction site

Khartoum is becoming a huge construction site.

The BBC is Taking the Pulse of the Global Economy, looking at a range of subjects this summer
Food prices - which remain a concern particularly in many developing economies
Highly volatile energy prices - which have been a major issue in the past year
The plight of migrant workers - as the global recession takes hold in many economies
Housing markets - which have turned from boom to bust in many countries
Rising unemployment levels - as firms cut back because of falling orders

High-rise buildings are under construction in Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman, the three districts that make up the capital.

While not skyscrapers in the New York mould, the buildings, which reach 15 stories high, are being built in areas of the city that are close to the main business districts and where local services are good.

And the designs can be dramatic. The al-Fateh Tower is one such building which would not look out of place in Dubai.

But the trend is spreading to other parts of Khartoum.

The owner of one of the high-rise buildings says that he not only wants to earn a living from renting out flats in the block but also plans to provide his family and his children somewhere to live.

He hopes to make enough money to invest in new projects in the future.

Foreign money

Bank loans and savings from years of work abroad, especially in the Gulf States, are now being ploughed into privately-owned building projects.

The prices of the newly-built modern properties are very high and out of reach for most local residents.

Building site in Sudan
Sudan is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa

A one bedroom flat in the new developments costs about $120,000 (£72,500), while the cost per square metre of a plot of land in a good location could reach more than $1000.

Many of the buyers are very rich people, expatriates living and working abroad, or locals who sold their old houses which were located in desirable neighbourhoods in order to downsize to smaller but more luxurious and modern properties.

Now, many Sudanese companies are joining in, as are foreign investors from the Gulf States and south east Asia.

New projects

At the confluence of the river Nile, work is underway in a new project: the Almogran business city.

Almogran, which means confluence in Arabic, is being marketed as the new business district of Khartoum and many companies have already bought plots of land to build their headquarters there.

The promotional video shows how the city will look when all three phases of the project are complete.

It is breathtaking and includes a business quarter, a recreational area with an 18-hole golf course and a residential area with 7,900 luxury apartments and 1100 villas, all on the banks of the White Nile.

Hani El Khidir, the managing director of al-Sunut Development Company says his company will spend $2.5bn on building the infrastructure for the business and residential areas. But other contractors from Malaysia, UAE and Sudan are all contributing to the project.

But this is not the only major project in Khartoum.

A new development by a Qatari businessmen is planned to start soon in Khartoum North on the banks of the Blue Nile.

The project also combines business and residential districts including five-star hotels and shopping centres.

Khalid El Tigani, the editor-in-chief of Elaph, a business newspaper, says the oil-powered boom in building will be good for the Sudanese economy.

Oil production will make the Sudanese economy, which is over-dependent on agriculture and natural resources, more diverse, he says.

The country is one of the fastest growing in Africa, according to the International Monetary Fund, and Khartoum, which is home to most of the businesses in the country is benefitting even more.

As a result, the capital's skyline is changing for good.

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