Dubai rolls out property projects despite falling prices

Posted On Thursday, 08 September 2016 07:22 Published by
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Dubai developers are rolling out their scale models for the city's latest grandiose property projects despite continued falls in real estate prices.

 Mohamed_Alabbar

Dubai developers are rolling out their scale models for the city's latest grandiose property projects despite continued falls in real estate prices.

Shimmering skyscrapers, golf-course villas and houses in sprawling communities are on show at Cityscape, a fair with a growing a reputation as the venue for launching the emirate's mega projects.

The centrepiece of this week's fair is Jumeirah Central, an entire district with a mixture of residential and office blocks, hotels and a mall, along the city's Sheikh Zayed artery.

The project is being developed by state-owned Dubai Holding -- the maker of the luxurious, sail-shaped Burj al-Arab hotel. Emaar South is another new development announced on the eve of Cityscape by Emaar Properties, which built Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower, among other Dubai landmarks.

It is to be erected in Dubai South, a vast desert that hosts Dubai's second airport Al-Maktoum which is touted to become the world's largest and replace Dubai International as the base for Emirates Airline.

"It is really amazing to get the chance to keep expanding this city," Emaar chairman Mohamed Alabbar said at the launch.

"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," he added.

On the first day of the fair, Nakheel -- the developer behind the man-made archipelago of Palm Jumeirah -- announced an apartment complex that it says will "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 between 2012 and 2014 and stirred fears of yet another bubble, before they headed south again at a slow pace. Prices had dropped by about 15 percent 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 percent. Cluttons said the average price per square foot now stands at 1,375 dirhams ($375), which it said was almost 25 percent below the last "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," he told AFP.

Transactions amounted to 57 billion dirhams ($15.5 billion) in the first half, according to official statistics, with Emirati nationals topping the list with deals worth 14.5 billion dirhams. The rest were snapped up by foreigners led by Indian investors, with transactions worth seven billion dirhams, while Saudis and Britons clinched deals totalling four billion dirhams each.

"External factors over the years have always affected the appetite from certain countries," said Stevens.

These included the impact of the falling Russian ruble last year and the British pound this year, following the Brexit vote. But interest is still 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.

source: AFP

Last modified on Thursday, 08 September 2016 07:45

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