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Asia's 6 biggest construction projects of 2017

For the world's most expensive infrastructure and transport developments, look no further

A construction site in the Beijing Central Business District. Sean K/Shutterstock


Some of the highest-value construction projects in the world for this year are all located in Asia, as per the Arcadis International Construction Costs 2017. Construction markets in the region are expected to see an expansion of 5 to 7 percent a year, despite easing growth rate over the past 18 months.

Despite the exorbitant cost of the region’s biggest projects, they are all worth it in the end. Last year, the built environment contributed to USD36 trillion of the global GDP.

Count down to the biggest, highest-value construction projects in Asia this year:

6. Chengdu Tianfu International Airport

Construction works in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. LP2 Studio/Shutterstock[/caption]
China will increase the number of civil airports to 260 within three years. One of the more high-profile air complexes will be the Tianfu International Airport in Chengdu, which will receive a USD11-billion outlay. It will be the first airport in the country to have decentralised terminals. Up to 90 million passengers and two million tons of cargo are expected to pass through the air hub every year by 2045.

5. Beijing Daxing International Airport

Construction at Beijing Central Business District in April 2016. testing/Shutterstock[/caption]
Of the 130-plus airports cropping up across mainland China, the Beijing Daxing International Airport is the biggest yet. It will serve as a replacement of the Beijing Nanyuan Airport, and is on track for a 2019 opening. With a construction value of USD13 billion, Daxing Airport is expected to handle at least 80 million passengers every year.

4. Jeddah Economic City

A view of Jeddah Corniche at the edge of the Red Sea, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. drpyan/Shutterstock[/caption]
The project formerly known as Kingdom City is a USD20-billion construction behemoth of homes, hotels, and office towers. This includes Jeddah Tower, set to be one of the world’s tallest structures upon completion. Jeddah Economic City will sprawl for two square miles.

More: What can Sri Lanka do to attract more foreign direct investment?

3. Dubai Al Maktoum Airport

Construction workers having a break in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Rastislav Sedlak SK/Shutterstock[/caption]
Dubai pushes the envelope yet again in superlative construction projects with a USD33-billion investment on its the Al Maktoum International Airport. Set to relieve increasingly monstrous air traffic in the emirate, Al Maktoum is envisioned to become the world’s largest airport with an annual capacity of 220 million passengers and 16 million tons of cargo.

2. Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor

Golden hour over building construction in Noida, Delhi, India. Amlan Mathur/Shutterstock[/caption]
As its name suggests, this project covers a wide swath of the continent between the largest metropolises of India. Valued at USD90 billion, the corridor will encompass 24 industrial zones, across seven states and eight smart cities. Part and parcel of the project is the 1,500-kilometre long Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, set to be finished at the end of 2019.

1. One Belt, One Road

Construction site at Shanghai's Bund area. Captain Yeo/Shutterstock[/caption]
Taking inspiration from the Silk Route of yore, China is rabidly paving the path for its ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. This is China’s biggest spending spree yet: a mammoth, 13-year investment in energy and transport infrastructure that spans Eurasia, Central Asia, Oceania, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. The program is two-pronged, focusing on landbased projects as well as maritime investments. OBOR, currently valued at USD150 billion, is widely regarded as China’s launchpad into a bigger role in global affairs.


Both the most expensive, cheapest cities in the world are in Asia

Manchester is now cheaper than Beijing and other interesting tidbits from EIU's latest living cost index

Dotonbori, a popular nightlife and entertainment area in Osaka, Japan.

Asian cities lorded over the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living report, out last week.

Names from the continent dominated both lists of the costliest and most affordable places to live in the world, per the report’s Cost of Living Index. Five of the world’s top six expensive cities are all in Asia, while cities in the Indian subcontinent make up half of the 10 least costly cities on earth.

Some traditionally expensive alpha cities have become more affordable of late. Due to the post-Brexit depreciation of the sterling, London is now only the 24th most expensive city in the world, while Manchester registered the biggest fall, from number 26 previously to a distant 51, making it cheaper than Beijing and tying it with Bangkok.

London is now a far greater lifestyle bargain than New York City, at ninth place, for the first time in 15 years, and Paris, at eighth place.

To arrive at the results, EIU tracked 400 individual prices across 160 products and services, including clothing, food, transport, home rents, utility bills, private schools, and recreation, in 133 cities around the world.

Asia’s priciest cities


5. Seoul

Streets of Gangnam in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

The South Korean megalopolis clobbered Geneva, Paris, New York, and Copenhagen, in that order, as the world’s sixth most expensive market. Merely topping up a grocery basket in the city is 50 percent more expensive than in New York, EIU reported.

4. Osaka

Light displays of Dontonbori in Namba, Osaka, Japan.

Rising costs in the city, as well as the next item on this list, can be attributed to the recovering strength of the Japanese yen. Osaka ranks fifth most expensive city in the world.

3. Tokyo

[caption id="attachment_62073" align="alignnone" width="740"] People crossing Ginza Road, one of the main luxury shopping areas in Tokyo. Jirat Teparaksa/Shutterstock[/caption]

With an index mark of 110, Japan’s largest metropolis is the fourth most expensive city to live in the world. Along with Seoul and Osaka, Tokyo is the priciest destination for purchasing staple goods.

2. Hong Kong

Star ferries in Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong.

More expensive than Zurich, the Chinese SAR comes in as the second most expensive city worldwide. Hong Kong fuel costs USD1.73 per litre, the priciest in the world and three times the price in New York, the report’s benchmark city.

1. Singapore

View of the Singapore skyline from the Marina Bay Sands' famous infinity pool.

The most expensive city on the world for four consecutive years, Singapore has 5 percent pricier living costs than nearest rival Hong Kong. It is the most expensive destination in the world to own a car, number two worldwide for clothing.

More: Asia’s 6 biggest construction projects of 2017

Asia’s least expensive cities


6. New Delhi

New Delhi's Indian Gate is the national monument of India.

The Indian capital is the 10th cheapest city in the world. Only Kiev, Ukraine and Bucharest are more affordable. “India is tipped for rapid expansion as Chinese growth declines, but much of this is driven by its demographic profile, and in per-head terms wage and spending growth will come from a low base,” EIU stated in its report.

5. Mumbai

Gothic building in downtown Mumbai.

The seventh least expensive city in the world happens to be the largest in India. However, it is a designation of disputed benefit, as “cheaper cities tend to be less liveable,” EIU warned.

4. Chennai

Foggy landscape of the city of Chennai with famous autorickshaw.

In fact, "there is a considerable element of risk in some of the world’s cheapest cities." Be that as it may, the world’s sixth cheapest city is the Tamil Nadu state capital.

3. Karachi

Blue hour over Karachi, Pakistan.

Pakistan’s largest city is the fourth cheapest city to live in the world, cheaper than Algiers, Algeria. It is the 130th most expensive city in the world, down from number 127 last year.

2. Bangalore

International Tech Park, Bangalore.

Only the recession-riddled Nigerian city of Lagos is more affordable than Bangalore, the third least expensive city in the world. "Although the Indian subcontinent remains structurally cheap, instability is becoming an increasingly prominent factor in lowering the relative cost of living of a location," EIU reported.

1. Almaty

Almaty is the most populous city in Kazakhstan.

Central Asia has the world’s pocket-friendliest destination: Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city. In Almaty, a kilo loaf of bread costs only USD0.90 while a bottle of table wine costs USD5.15.



Why North American ski resorts are at par with Alpine properties

Demand from America's super rich keeps prices at a premium

Established ski destinations in North America don't come cheap


Established ski destinations in North America don't come cheap

Our four-part series covers the dip in demand for winter resort properties that’s causing some concern on the slopes of North America, Europe and Japan. Click here to read Part Two.

North America’s skiing market dwarfs Europe – at 1.5 million square miles, the Rockies, Appalachian and Sierra Nevada mountains cover ten times the area of the Alps – and no single country can top the United States’ 56.9 million annual ski visits.

However, as the Savills Alpine Property Market report notes, “For such a large country, the US has relatively few resorts of worldwide renown.”

North American skiing destinations are heavily reliant on domestic visitors, and with US participation levels at no more than 4 percent; the market is left exposed to changes in national skiing habits.

The main North American resorts being spread over such a large area in comparison to Europe means that, on the one hand, it is a less cohesive and more dispersed market than the Alps, whose interlinked resorts are surrounded by densely populated areas.

Destinations such as Breckenridge in Colorado sum up the diversity available in the North American wintersports market

Destinations such as Breckenridge in Colorado sum up the diversity available in the North American wintersports market

But on the other hand, North America’s extra space means there is space to build and grow on its slopes and, as Savills highlights, “North America is home to the largest number of wealthy individuals globally, so with the right product there remains a ready demand base to tap in the home market.”

Savills points to Vail in Colorado, US, as being capable of delivering that right product to the high-net-worth community. While prices slumped during the crash of 2008, the resort’s ultra-prime market is helping recovery – prices come in at USD2,639 per square foot in Vail, putting it on a par with the leading Alpine resorts.

“Inventory is low and the best properties rarely trade. Demand from America’s super rich and limited supply keeps prices at a premium,” reports Savills.

“Privately owned and operated, Vail Resorts has invested more than USD500 million on improvements in the last five years.”


How Portugal is giving Chinese investors a taste of the Med lifestyle

The country has one of the more accessible golden visa schemes in Europe
Trams in Lisbon. ESB Professional/Shutterstock[/caption]

From knockoffs of Mediterranean towns, the Chinese now have the wherewithal to flock en masse to western Europe for the originals. Several European Union countries are bandying citizenship to investors in exchange for salves to their convalescing economies: real estate purchases, equity in domestic companies, and government bonds.

Portugal’s own citizenship-by-investment scheme has lured EUR2.4 billion (USD2.6 billion) in investments since it was launched in 2012. The scheme generated an 87.5 percent year-on-year upswing in investments to EUR874 million in 2016 alone.

Portugal’s program is mirrored all across Europe, including nations rocked by the sovereign debt crises of recent years.

“In the past, it was up to the entrepreneur to invite or lure the investors,” remarked Liana Toumazou, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) country manager for Portugal and Greece. “Now it’s been done at the level of the government, because they realise that this is the way they get money into the country, money which we don’t have.”

[caption id="attachment_61928" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Lisbon's Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), opened 2016. StockPhotosArt/Shutterstock[/caption]

The Chinese has made up the largest proportion of golden visa applicants to date. Chinese investors have secured 3,050 Portuguese golden visas, compared with 247 visas for Brazilian applicants, 148 for Russians, 137 for South Africans, and 72 for Lebanese.

Portugal has always been one of the more accessible of the European countries offering such routes to citizenship. For as little as EUR350,000, Asian investors can secure permanent residency and benefit from Schengen-free access to most European countries.

Not that investors have any reason to just use Portugal as a transit point — the country is a great prospect for retirement, with one of the lowest living costs in western Europe. The average price of local goods in the country is 12.2 percent and 19.4 percent cheaper than in the UK and France, respectively, according to Chinese property portal, citing Global Property Guide.

More: Cyprus offers Thai property investors EU citizenship

“Everybody welcomes everybody in Portugal,” claimed Ideal Homes Portugal listings manager Caroline Roseblade. “The locals have no problem at all, no matter what nationality. There has been no problem with any nationality."

According to Roseblade, rental yields for foreign purchases hover at anywhere around 5 to 10 percent, a high value proposition to Asian investors needing to be away for months on grand European treks.

Apart from the Chinese, the most demand for Portuguese homes come from Sweden, Mexcio, the US, and the UK, Roseblade said.

However, Portugal needs to keep up with the demand for these visas and expedite their issuance to investors. “[Speed] is a problem that needs to be solved,” according to David Machado, founder of “The government has all the good intentions but it’s not delivering. The number of people that process these and the speed with which they process the visas…It’s becoming too slow.”

Residential properties in Portugal were valued at EUR1,106 per square metre on average in January, a month-on-month increase of 0.5 percent, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE).

“You’d want to invest in an economy which is on the rise,” said Toumazou. “You’d want to goinvest somewhere with a little bt of uncertainty to make it a little bit cheaper. This is how investors work.”

Read next: How Turkey’s property market is weathering its political storms

What's putting a stopper on Chinese investments in Europe's vineyards?

The likes of Jack Ma are toasting to luxury wine estates in France and beyond

[caption id="attachment_60896" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Chateau Clos Du Vougeot Chateau Clos Du Vougeot in Burgundy, France. JCStudio/Shutterstock[/caption]

An increasingly less rarefied set of Chinese investors are decanting, as it were, their capital to the most scenic, sprawling vineyards in Europe and North America. Yet the recent onslaught of government controls on capital flight emptying out of mainland China may dampen enthusiasm for the world's best wine estates.

In Bordeaux, France alone, the number of chateaux under Chinese ownership has reached around 160, Decanter reported, citing data from MSB Christies International Real Estate. However, at least two Chinese buyers have held off plans to buy in the famed wine region, pending confirmation of adequate financing, a source close to the wine-lifestyle magazine reported.

“At this stage we are waiting to see what the impact is,” Michael Bayne of Christe’s International in Bordeaux told Decanter. "It is purely speculative to discern what is going to happen, although we expect residential property to be affected more than vineyards. For the coming year, most clients have already taken their money out of the country in anticipation of this, so they are less sensitive to the new rules. If there are issues we expect to see them from 2018.”

To conserve dwindling foreign reserves, Beijing's State Administration of Foreign Exchange announced last month that it would require foreign currency purchasers to declare that they will not be using the converted funds on overseas purchases of property.

More: Chinese investors develop a taste for French vineyards

Alibaba founder Jack Ma acquired last year the Château de Sours in Bordeaux, with plans to create a “mini Versailles” in Entre Deux Mers. A year earlier, China-based company HBC International Wine Assets Management bought Chateau la Bastide in Languedoc.

Similar lavish transactions are playing out in Australia, Italy, and the US. In 2014, half of all sales of Australian wineries went to Chinese residents, according to wine consultant Stephen Strachan. Chinese investors meanwhile made up the largest set of overseas buyers in California’s Napa and Barossa valleys, Decanter reported, citing data from Knight Frank.

Capital controls or not, real estate consultants seem not too perturbed by the prospect of Chinese outbound investment flows retreating from wine-growing properties. Chinese buyers do not buy for the return on investment like wine companies, Kevin Foster, associate director of Newmark, Cornish & Carey in California, told Decanter. “They buy for prestige and typically acquire trophy properties. They account for less than 2 percent of the purchases both in terms of dollars and transactions for us.”

Read next: 3 essential elements of building a luxury wine cellar

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