Dubai fair rolls out property projects

Sunday 11/09/2016
Magnet for prop­erty investments

Dubai - Dubai developers are roll­ing out scale models for the city’s latest grandiose property projects despite continued drops in real estate prices.
Shimmering skyscrapers, golf-course villas and houses in sprawl­ing communities are on show at Cityscape Global 2016, an exhibition with a growing a reputation as the venue for launching the emirate’s mega-projects.
The centrepiece of the fair was Jumeirah Central, an entire district with a mixture of residential and of­fice blocks, hotels and a mall, along Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road. The project is being developed by state-owned Dubai Holding, the creator of the luxurious, sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel.
Emaar South was a new develop­ment announced just before City­scape by Emaar Properties, which built Burj Khalifa, the world’s tall­est tower, among other Dubai land­marks.
It is to be built in Dubai South, a vast desert that hosts Dubai’s sec­ond airport Al-Maktoum, which is planned to become the world’s larg­est and replace Dubai International Airport as the base for Emirates Air­line.
“It is really amazing to get the chance to keep expanding this city,” Emaar Chairman Mohamed Alab­bar said. “Keep in mind that we are (only) 40-plus years old… We are re­ally young as a country and as a city and there is a lot to do.”
On the first day of Cityscape Glob­al 2016, Nakheel — the developer behind the man-made archipelago of Palm Jumeirah — announced an apartment complex that it said would “dominate” the skyline.
Dubai became a magnet for prop­erty investments when it opened the sector to foreigners in 2002, stand­ing out in a region that mostly con­fines freehold ownership to citizens.
The value of property surged at breakneck speed until the global financial crisis hit the debt-laden emirate in 2009, sending prices into free-fall.
A recovery led by tourism, trade and transportation pushed prices up again in 2012-14 and stirred fears of another bubble before they eased again at a slow pace.
Prices have dropped about 15% since peaking in mid-2014, accord­ing to a report by property consul­tancy Jones Lang LaSalle. Another consultancy, Cluttons, said prices “continued to soften” across the res­idential market in the second quar­ter of 2016, losing an average 2.4%.
Cluttons said the average price per square foot stands at $375, which it said was almost 25% below the “market peak” in the third quarter of 2008.
“We see the residential real estate market bottoming out by the end of this year,” said John Stevens, man­aging director of Asteco real estate services. “We’ve seen some slight decline but certainly we expect the market to be stable.”
Transactions amounted to $15.5 billion in the first half of the year, according to official statistics, with Emirati nationals topping the list with deals worth $3.49 billion. The rest were snapped up by foreigners, led by Indian investors with transac­tions worth $1.9 billion, while Sau­dis and Britons clinched deals total­ling $1.08 billion each.
“External factors over the years have always affected the appetite from certain countries,” said Ste­vens.
These included the effects of the falling Russian ruble in 2015 and the British pound this year following the Brexit vote.
However, interest is coming from elsewhere.
“You’ve seen interest coming from other marketplaces. Certainly in the past 12 months, we’ve seen much greater interest from China, for example,” said Stevens.
(Agence France-Presse)