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Economic slowdown puts an end to glitzy property parties in Dubai

The recent extravagant opening party for Atlantis is likely to be the last of the big events for some time according to officials as the global downturn means money is tight.

Almost half of the emirate's real estate launch parties have been delayed or cancelled as a result of the cooling property market, according to corporate event organisers.

'Corporate entertainment, team building and entertaining, they are being put on hold,' said Biju Jayaraaj, CEO of Dubai-based events firm Artaaj.

Dubai's booming real estate sector has become synonymous with extravagant launch parties. In October Hollywood power couple Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas attended the press conference to launch Nakheel Tower while Enrique Iglesias performed for guests as the launch of residential development Dream Harbour in August.

But the most expensive opening event to date was the $20 million opening party for Atlantis on the Palm Jumeirah which included a private concert by global superstar Kylie Minogue.

There is also a feeling that with property prices falling and buyers struggling to get mortgages and meet loan payments then a show of extravagance sends out the wrong impression. Also marketing and advertising budgets are being slashed.

That means that the property downturn is now having an effect on the events industry. Jayaraaj said that the company is now looking to refocus its strategy away from real estate.

Simone Sebastian, events producer at Dubai-based firm 9714, said four of their large real estate events had been put on hold indefinitely in light of the slowdown.