(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Major Gulf investors are turning their attention to Turkey where one of the region's fastest growing real estate markets is being built by a prosperous national economy, according to industry experts.
In a study released this week, global real estate specialists Jones Lang LaSalle, or JLL, reports that sovereign wealth funds, investment funds and private equity funds from the Gulf region are among those redirecting their growth plans towards Turkey in the wake of worsening economic instability in Western Europe.
The new law of reciprocity introduced into the market in May 2012 that allows foreign nationals to invest in Turkey and eases foreign investment restrictions has sparked significant investment in development, paving the way for a number of deposits on property from residents in Gulf nations.
In recognition of the trend, leading Turkish real estate developers are now stepping up efforts to target Gulf investors, and will have a major presence at Cityscape Global, the real estate industry's most prominent event in the region.
Inquiries received by Cityscape from investors across the Gulf, as well as Turkey's strong underlying fundamentals, consumer confidence and political stability have earned Turkey the official 2012 Country of Honour status and the largest international pavilion at the exhibition, which runs from October 2-4 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
JLL, which will be among the big international exhibitors in Dubai, believes these are all factors which can increase Gulf investment in the country's real estate sector, particularly in retail.
"We are seeing interest in Turkey from a range of investors including sovereign wealth funds, investment funds and private equity funds which have all strongly revived in 2012," said Kivanc Erman, the company's director of capital markets and advisory for Turkey.
"As a whole, Turkey has been less affected by the global economic crisis which has been central in bringing more positive attention compared to its Western European counterparts. Turkey's rising levels of transparency have also played their part here. A free flow of information added to a fair and constant application of local property laws is a big incentive for foreign direct real estate investment."
Retail development in Turkey is seen as a priority market for Gulf investors. Turkey saw 13 new shopping centres open in the first half of 2012 - including the 43,500sqm Trump Towers - while major projects in the pipeline include the 139,500sqm Mall of Istanbul.
According to JLL research, commercial office market demand also remains strong as a multinationals attracted by a healthy economy look to Istanbul as a regional business hub. Approximately 42,000sqm of office space entered the Istanbul office market alone in the first half of 2012, with 3.7 million square metres expected to be completed by the end 2013. Prime office rent, which has remained at â‚¬30 per square metre since the second half of 2009, is expected to remain constant in 2012 due to a strong pipeline supply.
Wouter Molman, exhibition director for Cityscape Global, said: "Partnership opportunities in Turkey will play a big role this year and will give key players the chance to share strategy as investors increasingly look towards this emerging market."
"By successfully running real estate events around the globe for more than a decade, Cityscape plans to leverage its expansive network spanning millions of real estate professionals and investors to put the spotlight on Turkey while the iron is hot."
Highlighting Turkey's key market strengths for direct foreign investment, the national economy is set to grow by four per cent in 2012, according to a Medium Term Economic Programme report commissioned by the Turkish government. The projection follows Turkey's 3.2 per cent GDP growth in the first quarter of 2012 and the 8.5 per cent growth in 2011.
The Cityscape Global exhibition will bring investors face to face with Turkish real estate developers such as Agaoglu, GAP Insaat, Tahincioglu, ENS Project Development and architect Tabanlioglu.