Emaar Properties is stepping up its development plan for the Asian region. According to Shravan Gupta, MD of the Indian joint venture Emaar MGF Land, the Dubai-based group is planning to build on the already substantial investments it has made outside the Middle East, particularly in North Africa and the Indian sub-continent.

It plans to aggressively expand into the retail sector with investments of US$4bn (€3.12bn) to develop shopping malls in these regions. Emaar has already invested US$21bn in Pakistan and US$6bn in India.

In China, Emaar is setting up an office in Shanghai this month as a focal point for its growing business in Asia. It sees North Asia, and particularly China and Japan, as the third leg of its international strategy. There are immediate plans to extend its alliance with Giorgio Armani to build hotels and resorts in Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo.

Emaar is the developer of the flagship Burj Dubai Tower, expected to be the tallest in the world when it is completed in 2008. The group is increasingly looking outside Dubai for new opportunities, which include strategic investments in healthcare and education. It is involved in an initiative to establish international schools in the MENA (Middle East/North Africa) region and India. In the last quarter, it has been developing a plan to construct hospitals, clinics and medical centres in MENA and South Asia, with a total investment planned of US$5bn over the next decade.