Istithmar progresses Pearl Valley golf resort project in South Africa
UAE. Dubai government-owned investment company Istithmar - through its Leisurecorp subsidiary - has snapped up another prime Cape property after its famous recent acquisition of the V&A Waterfront from Transnet in South Africa.

Istithmar, the investment company of Dubai World, has an investment portfolio which includes more than 50 successful companies. The company is investing heavily in golf resorts and David Spencer, CEO of Leisurecorp, says that compared to projects the company studied in Europe and Asia, South Africa has a very bright future.

"We think South Africa has fantastic upside potential. You have some fantastic golf and golf-related real estate investments there. When we were down there in December we were able to get in touch with the people from Pearl Valley in the Cape Winelands district. Obviously it’s close to our investment of the V&A Waterfront. We saw it as a natural progression for our company, and recently we acquired 100% of Pearl Valley and we are looking to a very bright future there," Spencer told local reporters.

Pearl Valley Golf Course, Paarl, Cape Winelands, is South Africa's premier new sporting residential development situated among orchards and vineyards on the outskirts of two of the Cape's most famous wineland towns, Franschhoek and Paarl. Pearl Valley is the latest addition to the Jack Nicklaus’s repertoire of signature-designed courses worldwide.

The Pearl Valley Golf Estate is surrounded by the Simonsberg and Drakenstein Mountains and bordered by vineyards with The Berg River water hazard running through it. Pearl Valley Signature Golf Estate and Spa is destined to become the premier residential golf estate in South Africa. It is designed on 212 hectares of tranquil surroundings for those who expect exclusivity and the finest quality lifestyle yet unmatched in this country.

Pearl Valley phase two is currently under planning approval and Istithmar said it hopes to get that planning approval in the near future. This phase of sales is planned to be ready in time for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

"We are looking forward to welcoming one of the great teams to Pearl Valley hopefully in 2010," said Spencer.

He added that Dubai has real confidence in South Africa's future. "I think if you look at the level of investment that our company Istithmar has made in South Africa. we’ve definitely voted with our feet or voted with our chequebook. We have absolute confidence in South Africa, and we will stand together shoulder to shoulder with the people of South Africa and develop our projects, and hopefully see some more foreign investment come into South Africa.

"If you look at the comparable pricing in South Africa - and what one gets in South Africa compared to the rest of the world - it provides tremendous value. I think if you look historically at the great and emerging tourism destinations in the world - and I use Australia as an example - Australia captured the imagination of the world not only being a great country like South Africa is, but also providing great value.

"South Africa provides great value - there is some elasticity for foreign tourism to come in there - but at the moment we still rate South Africa as a somewhat undiscovered destination, and there’s the fact that it sits in such a fantastic time zone corridor."

Istithmar believes there is a lot of upward movement that is going to happen in the South African real estate market, prior to the 2010 World Cup, and then again after that. "It may not accelerate quite at the pace of something like Dubai. But we feel that we can introduce more and more buyers through our international network into the Cape region," said Spencer. "So we have a very optimistic measured approach, but a very optimistic approach to where real estate prices currently are and where we see them in the short, medium and long term."

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