Abu Dhabi eyes Middle East financial hub status

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sowwah square abu dhabi
Sowwah Square, a new business centre in Abu Dhabi, is located on Al Maryah Island. The project features a central stock exchange and four office towers, ranging from 31 to 37 storeys in height. Photo - WorldArchitectureNews.com

Abu Dhabi is all set to foray into Middle East’s financial hub, competing with established hubs like Dubai’s DIFC, Qatar’s QFC and Bahrain’s Financial Harbour.

Abu Dhabi launched Sowwah Square, a 3.5 million square metre commercial and residential project, at the heart of Al Maryah Island district. The project is touted as similar to other international central business districts such as Canary Wharf in London and La Défense in Paris.

Sowwah Square is already 32% leased by the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), which is expected to be trading in one of the district’s main buildings by the end of the year.

Sowwah Square, which is part of the first development phase of Al Maryah Island, consists of four commercial towers, each 30 to 36 floors high, as well as a separate trapezium-shaped building for the ADX. It also includes the Galleria, a shopping centre spread on 33,000 sq metre area.

The demand for property in Sowwah Square is expected to be high, since it offers both commercial and residential units. Apart from this, experts say that the aggregation of institutions consisting of international corporates, financial institutions and other high-quality service providers in one location similar to The City of London makes it an attractive location for conducting financial business.

Major companies like Accenture, JPMorgan, Deloitte, Booz & Company, Deloitte, GE Corporate, Societe Generale, Clifford Chance, Al Tamimi & Company, and Gulf Capital have already taken space in the district.

“One of the reasons people have been moving into Sowwah is that they see a complete development. There is that buzz being created in Abu Dhabi,” said Ali Eid AlMheiri, the executive director of Mubadala Real Estate and Hospitality, part of Mubadala Development, which is behind the entire Al Maryah Island project.

The island is expected eventually to feature a cluster of commercial buildings and house about 70,000 people in tower blocks, with schools, two hotels and a hospital.

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