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Qatar’s real estate market faces reality check ahead of World Cup

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DOHA/DUBAI (Reuters) – Qatar’s Doha Tower, a spike-tipped cylinder that glows orange at night, won an award when finished in 2012 amid a Gulf-wide real estate boom, but today about half of its 46 floors are empty.

Towers under construction are seen in Doha, Qatar February 5, 2019. Picture taken February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

The office tower, now a familiar part of the capital’s high-rise skyline, has run foul of what real estate brokers, bankers and analysts say is an oversupplied Qatar property market ahead of the 2022 World Cup that mirrors a real estate downturn in the wider Gulf region after a drop in oil prices.

Qatar has the added challenge of a diplomatic, trade and transport boycott imposed on the Gulf Arab state by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt over allegations that Doha supports Islamist militants, a charge Qatar denies.

The protracted row has made it tough to lure would-be foreign buyers of residential or commercial space.

Residential prices are down about 10 percent from June 2017, when the boycott began, and office prices have fallen by a similar rate, according to analysts and economists. Rents are down 20 percent from three years ago, they say.

“Qatar’s property sector has been one of the main casualties from the blockade that was imposed in mid-2017,” Jason Tuvey, an economist at Capital Economics, said.

The property downturn has so far not translated into bad loans, as bankers say borrowers holding sluggish real estate assets tend to be among the country’s wealthiest.

“They have capacity to withstand the market … I don’t see a major threat,” Doha Bank CEO Raghavan Setharaman said, when asked about his view of the real estate market.

A banker at Al-Khalij Commercial Bank said banks like his have been restructuring many property loans in recent months, extending them to 20-year payment periods from 10 in some cases, to keep business moving for developers hit by slow demand.

But with the World Cup edging closer, real estate experts say long-planned projects are now set to flood the market, even as buildings in prime locations, like Doha Tower, sit idle.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens when they (real estate prices) are really put under pressure in a year’s time, when a lot of new supply hits the market,” Johnny Archer, Associate Director of DTZ, a Doha-based real estate firm, said.

WORLD CUP FRENZY

Tiny but wealthy Qatar, the world’s top liquefied natural gas exporter, plans to increase residential space by about 50 percent and office space by 40 percent in the next three years, partly on expected demand from the World Cup, according to a report published last week by real estate company DTZ.

The lion’s share of construction underway is for high-end residential towers, white-collar office space, and luxury hotels and shopping malls.

FIFA requires Qatar have at least 60,000 hotel rooms in place for the month-long World Cup tournament, which Qatar estimates will draw about 1.5 million fans – more than half of its roughly 2.6 million population.

Qatar has about 26,500 rooms and will add another 15,000 by 2022, DTZ’s report estimated. The rest will be met by rooms aboard cruise ships and in desert camps, according to the local World Cup organizing committee. These camps are expected to be bedouin-style accommodation to give visitors a taste of desert life.

Much of the building is in an entirely new city, Lusail, a 38-square kilometer stretch just north of Doha dotted by commercial towers, hotels, and shopping centers at various stages of construction.

Lusail is being developed by state-controlled Qatari Diar Real Estate Company, which envisions it hosting 200,000 residents and 170,000 employees. It is anchored by Qatar’s largest World Cup stadium, an 80,000 seat venue that will host the opening and closing matches.

Colliers International, whose office was an early entrant to Lusail, says getting companies to fill a rush of towers coming online ahead of 2022 will be a daunting task.

“There is significant office oversupply and while the 2022 FIFA World Cup will help absorb space, new industries are required to bring large office occupiers in the medium to long term,” said Colliers’ Qatar country director Adrian Camps.

In a bid to spur activity, Qatar last month ratified an investment law allowing foreigners full ownership of companies, and for years Qatar has designated certain high-end areas like Lusail open to foreigners, but brokers say demand remains low.

Shopping malls, lacking the Saudi or Emirati shoppers who once flocked to them before the boycott, are among the most visibly affected, with some having to shutter shops in recent months.

New malls are being built anyway.

Slideshow (4 Images)

Total retail space has doubled in three years and will grow 50 percent more by 2021 with nine new malls, according to DTZ.

Beyond 2022, Qatar real estate faces an uncertain outlook. Aside from soccer stadiums, Qatar has not specified legacy plans for what happens to infrastructure developed for the World Cup after the tournament.

“There’s too much uncertainty as to where that demand specifically is going to come from,” Richard Rayner, who surveys property for DTZ said.

Reporting by Eric Knecht in Doha and Tuqa Khalid in Dubai; Editing by Saeed Azhar and Jane Merriman

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Ottawa’s not-for-profit book publisher provides Ottawa authors with hardcover printing

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Are you a writer in Ottawa seeking to become a self-published author? It has now become much easier to put your work up for sale and exceed your book sales target.

In previous times, authors were only able to publish their work traditionally and this process had many restrictions. Now with self-publishing, it is very easy for writers to get their work in front of their readers without spending lots of time and money.

Even with self-publishing, it is still important to choose the right platform as many authors who are in a haste to publish, easily fall victim by investing in the wrong platform and overlooking the key principles of success.

Despite how popular self-publishing has become amongst aspiring authors, only a handful of self-published books achieve high sales. In fact, only less than 1 per cent of most self-published books are really good and less than 5 per cent can pass as decent. 

Now, with professional guidance, self-publishing platforms like AgoraPublishing.com stand out from the rest particularly because of their commitment to ensuring that your work is of top quality, allowing it to attain mass marketability effortlessly.

Based out of Ottawa, Agora Publishing is a not-for-profit book publishing agency that has over the years supported self-published authors to achieve their book sales target. The agency has been in operation for over 20 years, consistently serving writers all around the globe who seek to take advantage of their numerous full-service options which are not provided by other competing platforms like Lulu or CreateSpace.

Unlike other comparative services that are driven by for-profit ethics, Agora Publishing pays critical attention to the quality and readiness of the writer’s manuscript, copy editing, book cover design and other areas of the book production and marketing process. They also provide professional hardcover printing services, which is a rarity for most self-publishing platform who only focus on producing digital copies.

While digital media has disrupted other industries such as news publishing and the entertainment business, a lot of readers still love to own physical books. According to a 2019 report by the Association of American Publishers, of almost $26 billion made from book sales in the U.S., book print made up over 90 per cent ($22.6 billion) of sales revenue compared to $2.04 billion for ebooks. These figures include genres such as trade, education as well as fiction and points to the fact that hardcover books are still very relevant.

“I think the e-book bubble has burst somewhat, sales are flattening off, I think the physical object is very appealing. Publishers are producing incredibly gorgeous books, so the cover designs are often gorgeous, they’re beautiful objects,” said Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers’ Association in the U.K. in CNBC report.

Agorapublishing.com stands out from other self-publishing platforms and has become a great option for writers who want to self-publish high quality and mass marketable books in Ottawa in both digital and print formats.

The agency provides a host of professional community-driven services which include ISBN registration, book cover design, the book’s internal graphic design and typesetting, copy editing or substantive editing, book website design, author news blog design, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), the writing of informative promotional articles, distribution, printing, and many more.

Even with a captivating manuscript, having a below-par book cover can contribute to a dent in sales. Some new authors try to save cost by patronizing cheap homemade book covers that look inferior and this can drastically affect sales as readers still “judge a book by its cover”—especially cheap-looking books.

Nonetheless, platforms such as AgoraPublishing.com seek to serve writers in Ottawa with free professional consultation and advice on the readiness of their manuscript for production and a hands-on approach to ensuring that writers are provided with a high level of service at all levels of the production process. This way, your book goes through rigorous quality checks to ensure that only the best is made available to the public.

Agora Publishing has built a successful roadmap for its authors which includes their book production and marketing strategies. Their team of professionals work with authors to print highly durable and beautiful hardcover books with quality prints to attract the attention of book buyers.

Racing into the world of self-publishing can hit you with a cruel reality, therefore the only chance for success is having proper planning and preparation. AgoraPublishing.com provides Ottawa writers with expert services, handling the entire process for you to ensure your book attains the desired success almost instantly.

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Book Self-Publishing: AgoraPublishing.com is the best choice for Ottawa authors

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For writers in Ottawa, it is now easier than ever to put your work up for sale by becoming a self-published author. Unlike traditional publishing, self-publishing makes it very easy for writers to get their work in front of their readers without spending lots of time and money.

However, for many self-published authors who are in a haste to publish, they easily fall victim by overlooking key principles of success, leading to the failure of their books in achieving the desired sell-out rate.

Quite a large number of authors who are new to self-publishing get so many basic things wrong. Now, with professional guidance, self-publishing platforms like AgoraPublishing.com stand out from the rest particularly because of their commitment to ensuring that your work is of top quality, allowing it to attain mass marketability effortlessly.

Unlike other self-publishing platforms (CreateSpace, Lulu etc.), Agorapublishing.com is a great option for writers who want to self-publish high quality and mass marketable books in Ottawa.

Published authors earn money through book sales by receiving royalties—a percentage of the book’s retail price. The obvious way a published author makes money is through book sales. In traditional publishing, you could expect to receive around 8 to 15 per cent royalty on each book sale depending on your status as an author, the publisher, or your target market.

However, authors in Ottawa are choosing to self-publish with Agora Publishing as they can earn much more money from royalties. When you self-publish your book, you can earn much more in royalties.

One of the most common reasons for poor sales for Ottawa authors is being in a haste to self-publish a book without adequate planning. Some upcoming authors share the misconception that having a book means it’s go-to-market ready. But there must be adequate planning, enough promotion, a considerable amount of followership, amongst others.

Racing into the world of self-publishing can hit you with a cruel reality, therefore the only chance for success is having proper planning and preparation. Professional services like AgoraPublishing.com provides Ottawa writers with expert services, handling the entire process for you to ensure your book meets the highest standards. This way, you are certain that your work would attain success almost instantly.

Irrespective of how captivating your book might be, to capture the attention of readers, there needs to be some form of marketing. However, a lot of self-publishers make the mistake of assuming that once they’ve acquired the services of a publicist, listed it on Amazon and made social media posts, it is enough marketing.

Contrary to that belief, getting your book as much attention as needed requires you to exhaust every available marketing options at your disposal. AgoraPublishing.com provides professional marketing services to Ottawa authors and this makes it possible for their books to achieve a high number of sales.

For most traditional publishers in Ottawa, they tend to prioritize authors who have already created a specific niche. This leaves aspiring and relatively unknown authors with nothing more to do than wait in line before their book gets any sort of attention. Self-publishing is a much appealing option because no one is excluded or given preferential treatment; anyone has the potential to become a best-selling author. If you have good material, you can publish your book with professional guidance from Agora Publishing.

If you are worried about your book getting rejected by traditional publishers in Ottawa, self-publication with Agora Publishing is the best option for writers. It doesn’t matter how controversial your content is, opting to self-publish gets your work into the marketplace faster.

For self-published authors in Ottawa, they have more control over their work and choose any country, through any channel, and in any format (print, eBook, or audio) they want it sold. With help from Agora Publishing, authors can decide where and when to sell the book and the best way to promote it to reach a global audience.

Nonetheless, even with a perfect manuscript, having a below-par book cover can contribute to a dent in sales. For some new authors—in a bid to save cost—they tend to patronize homemade book covers that carry an inferior look. This can drastically affect sales as readers and book buyers do “judge a book by its cover”, especially terribly cheap-looking book covers.

Another quality check for any book that more often than not fails is the book description. Having a book description that is two-sentence long doesn’t qualify either does a lengthy preview of the first chapter.

Nonetheless, platforms such as AgoraPublishing.com provides Ottawa authors with unprecedented quality control and checks on all books to ensure that only the best is made available to the public.


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Book Self-Publishing: AgoraPublishing.com provides quality control that Amazon’s KDP lacks

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Many of today’s best-selling writers have chosen the path of self-publishing to become authors, bypassing traditional publishing. However, getting a highly successful self-published book can be quite a difficult task.

Technology has opened up new possibilities in the book publishing industry, changing the way publishers communicate with authors. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has adopted a more digital experience for customer interaction, but there is a tendency to overlook the fact that self-publishing platforms such as AgoraPublishing.com provide much better quality control.

While the implementation of chatbots for customer interaction seems like a fascinating idea, human interaction is still the most preferred choice of communication. Verbal communication is faster, easier, and more effective than typing messages back and forth.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Humans generally speak at 125-175 words per minute and can listen at a rate of up to 450 words per minute. In contrast, the average typist does 38-40 words per minute — and that’s on a full-fledged keyboard, not on a mobile phone.”

The success of a book is attributed to the level of planning, preparation and the amount of hard work put into it before it is launched into the market. For authors, even after hitting the shelves, there is still the need to diligently follow up on book sales and revise your plan wherever necessary.

While the idea of using a chatbot for customer communication might sound very progressive, the most preferred choice for authors remains human interaction and there are various reasons for that.

In the younger generations, many people are getting accustomed to the use of automated forms of customer service through mediums such as chatbots. However, human interaction is overall still the most preferred choice.

When trying to solve a customer service issue, 83 per cent of consumers would rather talk to a human than lay complaints via digital channels, according to research from Accenture Strategy. Despite the ability for Amazon’s KDP chatbot to respond to queries much faster or provide similar answers, it simply cannot provide the same feeling and assurance that speaking to a human at Agora Publishing provides.

Additionally, Agora Publishing provides offline accessibility while Amazon’s KDP chatbot requires internet connection before it can be accessed. Therefore, you would need to either download the app or visit their website to initiate a conversation with the chatbot or access the knowledge base content. This isn’t very reliable as in the event of poor internet connectivity, human-based customer service would always provide the authors with the required support.

Robots would always be robots; and while Amazon’s KDP chatbot is built on a framework loaded with different algorithms and scripts, no amount of programming would be enough to replace a human’s distinct ability to read subtle details from a person’s mood or language.

For example, if an author contacts a publisher and becomes agitated due to poor sales during the first few days of publishing, even the most sophisticated chatbot would never be able to replicate the warm, calm and empathetic response that a customer service representative would provide.

Additionally, in the cases of delayed publishing, having a conversation with an actual person who can provide a detailed explanation and subsequently apologize for the delays can be much more soothing to the customer than interacting with a chatbot.

Amazon’s KDP chatbot is capable of providing authors with basic help on some common issues, but unlike Agora Publishing, they are incapable of resolving every challenge that authors often need assistance solving.

For example, if an author needs help deciding what name would be best for a biography a deceased loved one and has questions about the cover design, royalty rates and marketing techniques. All of these multiple questions would come sequentially with each question and answer leading to the next. A chatbot would be unable to handle this kind of complexity due to the multiple requests being made by the author.

In conclusion, while technology has made self-publishing much easier than before, a human agent is still the most effective way to communicate with publishers. They can sympathize with an author wherever necessary before proceeding to provide detailed responses to every query.

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