Beirut ranks 24th most expensive for office space

Office buildings are seen in Downtown Beirut, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Downtown Beirut’s office space ranked the 24th most expensive in the world in 2013, according to a report from consultant firm Cushman and Wakefield.

The cost per square meter in Beirut’s Central Business District, including rents and additional costs, was 505 euros ($694.68) per year, the report said.

Beirut’s office space was the third most expensive in the region, with a cost of 734 euros per square meter in the Dubai International Financial Center and 659 euros per square meter in Doha.

Manama and Amman trailed at 231 euros and 179 euros per square meter, respectively.

Internationally, the report ranked Beirut directly below Taipei and Amsterdam and above Dublin and Jakarta. Beirut maintained the same rank from the previous year.

London was ranked as the most expensive office space in the world at 2,112 euros per square meter, followed by Hong Kong and Moscow.

Cushman and Wakefield reported that office rents increased by 3 percent globally in 2013, while expenses grew by 14 percent in the Middle East and Africa.

“Both Qatar and Dubai saw business confidence pick up through the year, resulting in increased office market activity as well as supporting prime rental growth of 10 percent and 5 percent,” the report said.

Locally, developers told The Daily Star that the demand for office space in Beirut and its suburbs was very reasonable in 2013.

“We had good demand for office spaces Beirut Central District in 2013, and the figures were somewhat close to those in 2012,” Munir Dawidi, the general manager of Solidere, told the paper.

He said demand for office space in the BCD was not too bad despite the circumstances in the country.

Dawidi added that most of the companies and investors who rented or bought offices spaces in the BCD were Lebanese.

“Most of the firms are going for small- and medium-size office spaces. These spaces range from 120 meters to 150 meters and sometimes more. The companies are also interested in finding office buildings with available parking spaces,” he said.

Dawidi did not disclose the number of offices that Solidere rented out or sold last year, and the company yet to release its financial results for 2013.

Georges Chehwane, chairman of Plus Properties, said that the demand for office space was quite good in 2013.

“Most of the office spaces in Beirut have either been rented or bought by companies and investors. There are some office buildings in Dbayyeh and Antelias, north of the capital, that have been snapped up by the investors,” he said.

But Chehwane expressed fear that Lebanon would face an oversupply of office spaces if developers decided to increase construction of office buildings.

“So far the number of office buildings is not too big, and for this reason the demand is high,” Chewane said. “But if 50 developers decided to build additional office spaces in the future then we will have an oversupply.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 26, 2014, on page 5.




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