Real Estate East and West — Upcoming Travel Course Blends Best of Both
MSRED Students Journey to UAE, Turkey, and England
by Michael Mack
January 12–24, 2008
"East is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet," wrote the poet Rudyard Kipling over a century ago. When he penned that famous line, he could easily have had in mind the cities of Dubai, Istanbul, and London. Each sprang up in a dramatically different region, each with its own unique cultural and commercial history dating back to ancient times. Nowdays all three cities are vibrant, prosperous centers for real estate, sharing similarities in development methods, but also maintaining approaches that are distinctly theirs.
Could a better understanding of the similarities and differences between each region's approach to development benefit the industry as a whole?
MSRED students at the MIT Center for Real Estate aim to find out! In a 3-credit course running from January 12–24, students in the Masters of Science in Real Estate Development program will travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey, and England to meet with dozens of high-ranking representatives from corporate, academic, and government sectors – including his highness Sheikh Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education in the UAE – to discover the best that each real estate culture can offer the profession. Serving informally as ambassadors from MIT, our students will seek to find where "the twain shall meet," visiting cultures that may be historically and geographically disparate, but that share the age-old desire to build.
United Arab Emirates
Dubai is home to some of the most ambitious and visionary development projects in the world. The influx in this past half century of great wealth has transformed the architecture and infrastructure of the entire region, spawning projects that are breathtaking in scope. Projects include Burj Dubai (pictured above right) – to be the world's tallest tower at 160+ stories; the Mall of the Emirates – the largest shopping mall in the UAE (with the only indoor ski slope in the Middle East); and the Dubai Waterfront – the world's largest waterfront development (larger than Manhattan), a master-planned chain of hundreds of man-made islands.
In a four day tour through UAE, our students will visit these developments and more, meeting with representatives from Konark Resources, Aldar/Laing O'Rourke, Nakheel, EMAAR Properties, and Dubai Properties for presentations and site visits. Side-trips may include a half day desert safari, and a visit to Dubai's Old City.
"If the earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital," Napoleon said of this city. Straddling the Bosphorus, its skyline studded with domes and minarets, Istanbul was historically considered the West's gateway to the East. Its position on the Bosporus kept it at the center of commerce and trade, giving it a particular influence in the region. Now with Turkey likely to join the European Union in the not too distant future, its position as a geographical nexus is expected to bring much activity and value to its real estate market.
MSRED students will spend four days in Turkey, beginning with a visit to the Istanbul Technical University, and presentations by real estate professors on the city's housing and commercial markets, risk factors, and political and legal infrastructure. Site visits that follow will include the Pradera Cevahir Mall (pictured, above right), the largest shopping mall in Europe (six floors, 4.5M SF, and its own roller coaster); and the Kanyon Mall, an elegant mixed-use development in the Levent business district on the European side of the city. Students will meet with developers at DTZ, the Soyak Company, ECE, and Pradera/JLL.
Rounding out the trip to Istanbul will be a cultural tour, including a trip to the Blue Mosque, the national mosque of Turkey; to Hagia Sophia (meaning "holy wisdom"), once the largest cathedral in the world, now a museum considered to be the epitome of Byzantine architecture; and of course, a trip to the world-famous Turkish Baths.
London is unquestionably one of the world's great financial and cultural centers. With long traditions in commerce and industry, and with the 6th largest city economy in the world, London boasts some of the most venerable, continuously-running real estate and development firms anywhere – some centuries old. The city is now going through a high-rise boom. Encouraged by the London Plan, first published in 2004 by the mayor's office, developers are planning the erection of about 30 new skyscrapers over 500 feet tall, which could transform the city's skyline.
MSRED students will spend 4–5 days in London, meeting with representatives from King Sturge, Chelsfield Advisors, IPD, Wachovia, M3 Capital Partners, AIG, Stanhope, Hines, and Jones Lang LaSalle. Of special interest will be a site visit to London's Canary Wharf (pictured, above right), a once-derelict area on the Thames that has recently gone through tremendous revitalization. Now a 14M SF development on 97 acres, Canary Wharf includes 30+ buildings, 4 malls, 200 shops and restaurants, and 90,000 employees (200,000 projected).
Students are currently planning their cultural tour, a smorgasbord of sightseeing that could include visits to Buckingham Palace, Waterloo, Piccadilly Circus, Saint Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London Bridge, Parliament, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, the British Museum, and an English pub or two. And for those who after 12 days still haven't seen or done enough, an optional leg of the trip continues on to Barcelona!
Is our students' coming "12-day work week" ambitious? Clearly. Exhausting? Maybe. Fun? You bet! Stay tuned for a travelogue in words and pictures of their adventures bringing east to west, and west to east, wherever the twain shall meet!