Strong demand at Cityscape seals UAE’s allure as real estate leader
Dubai - The recent Cityscape Global Dubai, one of the highlights of the UAE property calendar, saw a record number of visitors and received a unanimous vote of approval for well-conceived projects from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other emirates.
About 300 exhibitors from the United Arab Emirates and 30 other countries participated this year in the 16th edition of the event.
The final tally has not been announced but organisers cited an increase of 25% in the number of visitors during the first two days of the three-day event. A major attraction this year was that on-site sales were permitted for UAE-based projects. Some 40 new ones were launched during the show by developers such as Aldar Properties, Azizi Developers, Damac, Deyaar Development, Dubai Properties, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Meydan, Nakheel and Union Properties.
Abu Dhabi developer Aldar sold out at $100.9 million of the first phase of its Water’s Edge development of 2,255 homes on Yas Island. With prices starting from $130,680, the water-front development proved highly attractive for end-users and investors.
Another big draw at the event was Azizi Riviera in the prestigious Meydan One district. Azizi Developments reported that on the first day of Cityscape, the entire phase one and 50% of the inventory of phase two of the $3.27 billion waterfront project were sold.
Some of the notable project launches were District One Residences; the third phase of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City, with apartments featuring waterfront views; Nakheel’s 180-metre Palm Beach Residences on the Palm Jumeirah, complete with a 38th-floor sky lounge with views over the Arabian Gulf; Deyaar’s 63-storey tower project South Bay in Business Bay including residences, serviced apartments and an international hotel; Union Properties’ $2.18 billion MotorCity master plan comprising 44 high- and low-rise buildings, more than 150 villas and a wide range of residential, commercial, entertainment and hospitality facilities.
A notable exhibit at Cityscape was “District 2020,” a legacy project showcasing commercial and residential development that will repurpose the Expo 2020 site, which should prove to be a major factor in the emirate’s development. The transition from Expo 2020 to District 2020 will begin as soon as the expo ends. The district will include 65,000 sq. metres of residential space and 135,000 sq. metres of commercial space, in addition to world-class innovation, educational, cultural and entertainment facilities as well as a conference and exhibition centre.
There was a dramatic leap in the number of registered Dubai Land Department transactions made for off-plan units. Lynnette Abad, partner and head of Property Monitor, a division of Cavendish Maxwell, a property and construction consultancy, attributed the success of off-plan projects to the “winning combination of a very good final price point coupled with attractive payment plans.”
“This has lured investors back into the market and opened an opportunity for end users who couldn’t afford to get on the property ladder before,” Abad said.
“Cityscape 2017 was one of the busiest I have seen in several years,” said Declan King from ValuStrat. “Activity was surely heightened by the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority’s decision to permit developers to take booking deposits at the event for the first time since 2008,” King said.
Research by ValuStrat indicated that the Dubai residential property market prices and transactions have been broadly flat over the last year, with capital values declining 1.2% in 12 months. However, off-plan new home transaction activity has picked up and represented 64% of overall sales in the second quarter. Improved sentiment is attributed to the city’s regional safe-haven status, rising population and a growing well-diversified economy with strong activity in tourism, real estate, finance and manufacturing.
King said the decision in 2013 to award the city rights to host Expo 2020 was a solid endorsement of Dubai’s place in the world and a further economic stimulus. Dubai’s GDP grew 2.85% last year and growth is estimated to be 3.1% in 2017.
“The new homes market, in particular, has seen renewed activity, with many developers now working to diversify away from the high-end luxury segment that Dubai is well known for,” noted King.
Mohanad Alwadiya, CEO of Harbor Real Estate, said Cityscape was “very promising in terms of trends, a reminder of the glory days of 2006 and 2007.”
Faisal Durrani, head of research at Cluttons, projected growth in 2018 after three years of price declines in the Dubai property market. He said he was “extremely positive about the prospects for real estate in the next three to four years,” which is linked to an expected 300,000 jobs being created by Expo 2020.