Daily star, BEIRUT: Property consultants Cushman & Wakefield ranked Beirut as the 37th most expensive office location worldwide and the third most expensive among four cities in the Middle East and Africa region included in the rankings. The survey, which was carried by Lebanon This Week, the economic publication of the Byblos Bank Group, covered 58 cities around the world. Beirut was the 35th most expensive city globally and the second most expensive in the region in the 2007 survey. The study evaluates 203 key office locations in 58 countries. The location with the most expensive occupancy cost in each country is then included in its annual rankings .

On a global basis, Beirut ranked immediately behind Budapest, Bucharest, Istanbul and Lisbon and was considered more expensive than Prague, Bratislava in Slovania and Calgary in Canada. The cost of office space in Beirut was 342 euros ($500) per square meter per year in 2007, close to the global average of 345 euros but markedly higher than the regional average of 245 euros. The rates reflect rent in addition to municipal tax, service charges and value-added tax. According to Cushman & Wakefield, Beirut’s drop in the rankings from last year was due to a lack of growth in the office sector. It said there was little change in the market during 2007 and a certain amount of stagnation due to the ongoing political problems.

It added, however, that there is a shortage of good quality office accommodation within the Beirut Central District (BCD), which has led to rental values in the capital growing by 17 percent over the year.

The increase in office space rent in the BCD came slightly below the region’s rental growth of 19 percent and above the global increase of 14 percent worldwide in 2007.

The BCD also ranked 4th among the top 10 most expensive locations in the Middle East & Africa region in 2007. Dubai had the most expensive office occupancy cost at 921 euros, followed by Abu Dhabi at 580 euros and Tel Aviv at 367 euros.

In parallel, the Beirut Central District ranked among the top 10 best performing locations in the region with an annual rental growth of 17 percent last year, behind Dubai with 68 percent, Tel Aviv with 35 percent, Johannesburg with 25 percent and Ramat Hahayal in Israel at 20 percent.

London, Hong Kong and Tokyo retained their positions as the world’s three most expensive cities for office space, with London’s West End district maintaining its rank as the world’s most expensive location with 2,277 euros a year. – Byblos Bank’s Lebanon This Week