Thursday, December 22, 2011

Meraas to introduce movie-based theme park in Dubai

Meraas, a Dubai-based real estate company, has launched a new Dh.2.2bn project to build Dubai Adventure Studios, a movie-based theme park, located in proximity to its master development close to the Arabian Ranches intersection.

The Dubai Adventure Studios, which occupies across two million square foot of space, forms phase-one of the three-phase project, spread across eight million square feet of space. The work on the project is scheduled to begin early next year and will be ready by end of 2014.

The Chief Business Development Officer at Meraas Holding, Sina Al Kazim, said that Meraas will complement the growing popularity of Dubai as a tourism hub. Further, the Dubai Adventure Studios will offer a truly unique experience that will set a distinctive benchmark in the theme park industry.

The movie-based theme park will include five zones featuring the best in technology games and new generation rides, apart from hospitality and F&B zones to shape an excellent entertainment destination that meets the requirements of the visitors.      

Dubai Adventure Studios will take centre-stage at Meraas stand in the 2012 Arabian Travel Market Exhibition, to be held from 30th April to 3rd May 2012 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

DMC launches 6 new mixed-use Business Districts

The Dubai Maritime City (DMC) this week launched six new mixed-use Business Districts, further strengthening the position of Dubai as leading global maritime hub. The launch was held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai World.

The grand inaugural launch ceremony held at the 227-hectare man-made peninsula of DMC, located between the Drydocks World and Port Rashid, involved participation of Director General of HH the Ruler’s Court, Khamis Juma Buamim, Chairman Drydocks and Maritime World, senior company executives, representatives of developers, government officials and special invitees.

Work will commence on six new projects in the Business District, following the launch. Among the new projects are Swiftships Towers by Swift Development, Sheth Developers with the Project ‘Iris Mist’ Hotel Apartments and Residences, Kensington Krystal by Kensington Global, Sanali Aquamarine Residential Apartments by Sanali Global, and Dubai Investments Real Estate with a six star hotel.   Project mobilization and commencement of construction will begin towards end of 2012.

The Dh.2.5bn worth Business District, spread across 121 hectares of land, is located at the heart of the visionary DMC project, and complements the Marine Industrial District Operation, unveiled earlier this year. It will serve as the main business growth engine of DMC, accounting for nearly 90percent of its projected total income in 2013. It comprises a maritime centre, a marina, an academic quarter, a hotel and harbour offices and residences.

Among the nineteen renowned developers being considered to handle the development and sale of commercial and residential units within the Business District are Al Burj Real Estate, Swift Development, Kensington, Global Investment Inc, Sanali Global Limited, Sheth Estate International Limited, Deyaar Development – PJSC, ETA Star Property Developers LLC, Omniyat Properties Eighteen Ltd., Al Faraa Investment, Mena Capital Investment, Vakson Freehold, Hemen R E D & General Trading Limited, Meyadeen, Dubai Investment Real Estate, Mohammed Shafar, Das Holding, Esam Janahi, Ismail Janahi, and DAMAC.

DMC is the first maritime group in the world, with an integrated development comprising residential, commercial, industrial, academic, and lifestyle components. It is specifically meant to improve the maritime industry and serve as a unique place for maritime community to work, live and play.

The first phase of DMC was completed in March this year. The 106-hectare Marine District, comprising 96 units of various sizes has been constructed and considered operationally fit. Majority of them have already been occupied by major maritime companies. The phase 2 involves additional infrastructure, while phase 3 will involve completion of all commercial aspects too, by 2014. On completion, there will be more offices, showrooms, shops, warehouses, and yacht building yards.

The shipyards in DMC will have the capacity to handle a range of vessels including handling tugs, medium size tankers, diving support vessels, bulk carriers, offshore supply vessels, landing crafts, navy vessels, tugs and barges and yachts.

Friday, December 16, 2011

New system to complete property title deed formalities in 45 minutes

The Dubai Land Department (DLD) has now launched an online appointment system, wherein the registered brokers need not queue up at the department office for registering a property transfer.

This comes as good news to more than 2000 registered property brokers in Dubai. The registered brokers can now fill up details of the property such as name, address, value of the deal etc., pertaining to the buyer online, and can use it to complete the property transfer.

The Title deeds can now be issued within 45 minutes, a senior DLD official revealed.

About two to three transactions have been already registered using the new system. The department is now seeking all registered brokers to use this new system.

The Assistant Director-General of Land Department, Mohammed Sultan Thani, explained that when the agent registers on the system, and feeds in the details of the transactions, he will be given a set time. This will help save their time, and permit to complete the transaction process at a faster pace.

However, the system is not yet open to individuals. They will have to make personal appearance after fixing an appointment, for their transactions.

2011 ends on a positive note for Dubai property market

The commercial property sector in Dubai is picking up, with increased occupier interest, owing to various cost savings now available in what is considered to be a buyers’ market.

Leading real estate services company, Cluttons, in its review of property activity in Dubai last year, mentioned that high-end residential sector seems to be benefitting from the current capital shifts in the region, due to Arab Spring.

The year 2011 seems to end on a positive note for Dubai property market, than during the past three years, despite the negativity arising from the current economic turmoil in Europe and US, the report said.

Although the prices have continued to fall in certain places, the rate of decrease seems to have slowed down throughout the year, indicating that they are close to bottoming out. A general maturing of the marketplace has been noticed in 2011, with demand now originating from variables that one would expect in any established city, Cluttons point out.

The landlords are also getting more flexible in their terms which seem to be another feature of a maturing property market, it said.

Further, a major announcement that came over the past 12 months, that of three-year residency visas to owners holding Dh.1mn or more worth of properties in all freehold areas, lured investors back to the market, Cluttons said.

The Head of Cluttons, UAE, Steven Morgan, said that it seems encouraging to note the stabilization seen in certain areas of the UAE residential and commercial real estate market.

Cluttons has expanded its team so that their combined skills and expertise can help the company in retaining the international best practices and professionalism, while also continuing to adapt the ever-evolving Middle Eastern marketplace.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dubai realty market to see steady apartment, villa rentals in 2012

The villas and apartments in Dubai are likely to see marginal decline in prices during the forthcoming year, with nearly 10,700 new apartments and 1300 villas entering the market during the first six months, says Asteco Property Management, the leading Dubai-based real estate consultancy.

The real estate market in Dubai will be strengthened further, by buyers from other Arab countries, owing to regional unrest and economic uncertainty in other parts of the region, thereby boosting Dubai’s safe haven status.

During the year 2012, villa and apartment rentals in Dubai will remain steady, with only minor declines seen for low quality and poorly managed buildings in certain localities.

The H2 2011 report by Asteco shows that there will be increased number of transactions, with further supply entering the market, leading to increased price competition for owners, while the tenants are offered better choice. However, the report notes that the demand is likely to continue in 2012.

The fourth quarter of 2011 shows that Dubai realty market continues to remain steady for the fourth successive quarter, and with increased transactions, indicating that the Dubai property market is actually recovering, the consultancy points out.

Asteco reports that apartment rentals in prime and mid-market locations stabilized over the fourth quarter, with Nakheel’s International City, being the only project to see a small slide in lease rates. Asteco also reports that there are increased numbers of people re-locating to the emirate, owing to general growth in business performance.

The rental rates for apartments stabilized over the end of 2011, which dropped marginally in the first six months, with International City being the only development to have witnessed minor declines in the fourth quarter.

The average annual rental for a single bedroom unit in Dubai Marina during fourth quarter was Dh.62,500 with double bedroom apartments being sold for Dh.80,000. Rentals for single and double bedroom units on Palm Jumeirah were Dh.90,000 and Dh.120,000 respectively.

The villa rentals were comparatively stable throughout the year. According to Asteco, transactions in the rental market for both categories picked up, as tenants took advantage of lower rates and moved into better quality accommodations, while people relocated to Dubai from other emirates.

Locations such as Discovery Gardens, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road, Downtown Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, Emirates Living and Arabian Ranches, continued to have huge demand.
The selling prices of apartments also maintained their levels in the fourth quarter, following slight declines in the first nine months of the year, although new areas or unfinished developments witnessed further falls.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Surge in prices of luxury properties in Abu Dhabi, Dubai

The prices of luxury properties in the Abu Dhabi and Dubai markets have shot up by 4.3 percent over the first three quarters of this year, says the latest report by Knight Frank, the leading global property consultancy.

The Head of Residential Research at Knight Frank, Liam Bailey, said that luxury homes in prime global cities will retain their reputation of being a safe haven, and will hardly draw any speculative investors seeking short-term gain.

Abu Dhabi will witness growing demand for newly-built properties in future, the report said. Abu Dhabi has topped the list of 10 future locations tipped for growth in prime locations across the globe, and is likely to see increased demand for newly built properties, as per the report by Knight Frank.

The savvy-minded investors across the globe have tagged prime properties as a safe haven investment over the past three years. Wealthy investors are looking forward to stability of luxury properties in major cities, as against the sovereign debt concerns and geo-political uncertainty of other nations.

The global trend prediction turns out to be good for luxury properties in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the rest of UAE, with savvy investors, continuing to seek differentiating factors, so that their properties can hold on to their values in the wake of global uncertainty.

The Knight Frank report has taken into account the properties that have managed to recover faster from their 2008-09 economic downturn despite the current economic gloom, by assessing their long-term values.
The report points out examples wherein cities have managed to hold on to the prices of luxury properties. The prime properties in London and New York are now 37 and 25 percent above their recessional lows, while in Asia, luxury homes in Hong Kong are now 72percent higher than their lowest in 2008, while Shanghai and Mumbai have recorded 115 and 220 percent growths respectively, from their market lows.

The evidence also suggests that prime luxury properties in the UAE have been able to hold on to their values in a better manner than other developers during their phase of property crash during 2008-09, and they have been the first to recover.

With the UAE realty market beginning to stabilize following global economic crisis, the luxury real estate sector has continued to throw strong indications of recovery, during the last quarter of 2011, wherein unique luxury developments such as Al Barari in Dubai, are continuing to draw local and international investors, the report pointed out.

Therefore, the prices of luxurious residential properties have remained close to their 2007 levels, despite the bad economic scenario, and the negative impact that it had on property prices throughout Dubai, the report said.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Select Group delivers over 1700 housing units at Dubai Marina

One of the private real estate companies and developer of world’s tallest residential towers, Select Group, announced plans to deliver 1700 residential units in Dubai Marina, from its projects worth Dh.1.85bn.

The Chairman of the Group, Rahail Aslam, who spoke about the realty market in Dubai, said that the market had undergone one of its challenging and toughest phases over the past two years, with developers having to face and adjust to market conditions. This requires patience and prudence, with real estate market in Dubai now showing signs of growing momentum, which will further gather strength in near future.

The real estate economy in Dubai has the potential to offer higher returns than the global average, and this can help kick start developmental activities during medium to long-term.

Three projects by Select, which are in their handover phase, are ‘The Torch’ with 684 units, ‘Botanica’ with 365 units, and ‘Bay Central’ with 735 units.

The handover of The Torch units is more than two-thirds complete, with at least 440 or more residents having moved in already. On the other hand, the Dh.393.5mn, 41-storey, Botanica project, which boasts of the only sky garden in Dubai realty sector, is 87 percent sold out, Aslam said.

Meanwhile, construction at the three tower podium Bay Central development is in full progress, at the Bay Central unit. The Dh.785.9mn project is 95percent complete. The first 43 storey residential tower and the second 51-storey residential towers were launched for sale in 2006. The third tower is a five-star hotel and serviced apartment, which will be managed and operated by a reputed international hotel operator.

The extremely positive response received by the projects shows that Dubai’s property market is regaining its confidence. Dubai is a global and regional destination for investments, and even during the current unrest in the region, Dubai continues to draw investors, due to its reputation of being a safe haven, Aslam said.

Dubai Marina tops realty transactions in Dubai this year

Dubai Marina has topped the list of freehold areas in Dubai, recording a total of 800 transactions worth Dh.903mn during the first nine months of this year.

As per the data provided by, a real estate information company, Emirates Living District has witnessed a total of 553 transactions worth Dh.673million, while Palm Jumeirah recorded a total of 307 transactions worth Dh.769million. The district comprises the Meadows, Views, Greens, Lakes, Ghadeer, Hattan, Springs, Montgomery and Emirates Hills.

The Jumeirah Beach Residence recorded a total of 295 transactions worth Dh.428mn during this period. The Business Bay and Downtown Dubai areas recorded a total of 494 transactions, jointly worth Dh.915mn.

The values by focused only on apartments and villas of emerging markets.

Meanwhile,, has reported that Dubai Marina is the topmost searched location on the website.
The average selling price of single and double bedroom apartments have dropped 8percent and 11percent year-on-year, the website reported.

The Senior Director of Real Estate Development at Dubai Land Department, Mahmoud Ei Buri, said that the department expects the total real estate sales to touch Dh.140bn towards end of the year, in comparison to Dh.123bn in 2010.

The Director General of Dubai Land Department, Sultan bin Butti bin Mijren, revealed that nearly 225 projects are currently in progress in Dubai, and will be delivered over the next three years.

Nearly 217 real estate projects have been cancelled as of 31st May 2011. During the year 2009, nearly 129 projects were cancelled in the emirate, while 237 out of 450 projects were completed thereafter.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Property valuators being pressurized to value properties at 'pre-crisis' levels

The real estate owners of both private and corporate properties are awaiting for the property valuation results of firms to match “pre-crash valuations.”

According to industry experts, owners of properties are of the belief that the real estate market has recovered considerably, and so, it is time to see whether the value of their holdings have gone back to what they were worth before onset of economic crisis in 2008.

The Managing Director – MENA, Chesterton International, Simon Gray, said that clients are emphasizing valuers to match their older pre-cash valuations carried out on their assets, as they feel that the market has made sufficient recovery this year.

Several larger companies possessing properties had earlier decided not to value their portfolios, as they were aware about the decline in rates since 2008. However, these companies are currently beginning to again compare values, as the market has shown improvement this year, Simon Gray said.

One of the major challenges faced by the industry in the UAE is the reduced prices quoted by small, unprofessional “valuation companies”, which employ agents who claim themselves to be valuers. They are not covered by any professional insurance, which implies that if anything happens, these companies just disappear, leaving the clients exposed to wrong values, Gray points out.

Gray also pointed out that lack of governmental regulations too, can hamper implementation of proper valuations.

The government authorities should maintain a database system, wherein all transactions can be accessed by valuation companies, and they should not compete with private companies on offering valuation services to clients, as it could prove to be a conflict of interest, Gray said.

Dubai has been working on a real estate valuation regulation, which aims to set guidelines for valuation companies. The law is still awaiting government approval for launch. A draft of this law has already been released by the Dubai Land Department. The valuers can adhere to these rules, although they have not yet been made mandatory.

Speaking about the property market in the UAE, Gray said that the market is now mature enough to be divided into areas of developments, rather than being a market as a whole.

Gray is of the opinion that both Dubai and Abu Dhabi markets should be viewed at differently. The prices in Abu Dhabi will continue to decline, with surplus supplies. In Dubai, however, prime areas such as Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah, Downtown and Emirates Living will enjoy stable price levels. However, secondary developments such as International City, Silicon Oasis, may suffer further reductions in the near future, provided, the entire region begins showing growth again.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New homes in Dubai realty sector may cause decline in prices and rentals

The government real estate data revealed that Dubai recorded less than 1700 real estate deals during the first ten months of 2011, which marks a 70percent decline on sales in the emirate's housing market, in comparison to its peak period during mid-2008.

The data from Dubai Land Department (DLD) showed that nearly 1603 deals with signed during the initial ten months, in comparison to 5,363 deals signed during the same period in 2008.

However, in comparison to the 2009 figures, when the financial crisis was at its peak, the figures reflect 37percent increase, which indicates sign of recovery of housing market in Dubai.

The average monthly real estate sales has increased to 160 from 117 in 2009, but is still quite far behind from the average of 536 property transactions recorded during a month in 2008.

According to Ryan Mahoney, the CEO of Better Homes, the largest real estate firm in Dubai, the market seemed extraordinary during 2005-08, and is now regular.

The CEO of Landmark Properties, Charles Neil, said that rise in sales is attributed to increase in bank lending and increased number of Chinese and Indian investors entering the market.

The real estate prices in Dubai soared when Dubai opened its property market to foreign investors in 2002, and granted them, rights to freehold ownership at several developments. During the period 2007-08, the prices grew 80 percent, with several billion dollars worth of new projects being launched.

However, the prices of houses in Dubai saw the biggest reversal owing to financial crisis, when it fell more than 60percent due to global economic crisis. Thereafter, recovery in housing prices was noticed in the third quarter, wherein, prime projects in Palm Jumeirah and Arabian Ranches saw slight increase.

However, analysts are still concerned, as at least 33,000 new homes will enter Dubai market by end of 2012, and they can cause fresh declines in sale and rentals. Further, renewed global financial woes, coupled with European sovereign debt crisis may be a cause of concern. The Moody’s had last month predicted that any price recovery may be unlikely until 2016.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Existing rent cap to continue in Abu Dhabi until 2012

Abu Dhabi has announced to extend the existing curb on price increases, which has compelled the landlords in the emirate to restrict annual rent hikes to less than five percent until 2012.

According to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the rental cap will be extended to 9th November 2012, so as to bring about a stability in the tenancy market.

Rental increases if any, should be in the range zero to five percent, confirmed a statement from WAM, the state-run news agency.

Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have introduced price caps, following the housing boom in the UAE, to tackle the issue of soaring rentals. Dubai was the first to introduced rental cap during 2005, capping hikes at 15percent.

The current regulation in Dubai and Abu Dhabi does not permit landlords to increase rentals by more than five percent for the entire duration of the tenant’s lease period.

Being a latecomer to Gulf real estate boom, and due to lack of supply, Abu Dhabi witnessed a modest decline in housing prices and rentals, in comparison to its neighbouring Dubai, during the onset of global economic crisis. However, majority of developers in Abu Dhabi have focused on delivering existing projects, which led to increased release of properties into the market.

Another 11,000 fresh homes are due to be delivered prior to the end of this year, the latest Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) report said in its report last month.

JLL’s Head of Abu Dhabi office, David Dudely, commented “The market is taking a short-term hit for long-term benefits.”

Further, the oil-rich emirate had announced plans to distribute Dh.2.3bn in the form of housing loans to 1400 nationals in the emirate to help them build homes or renovate their properties.

The UAE had earlier said that Dh.7bn has been allocated from its 2011 budget for housing projects and home loans to nationals, apart from spending on infrastructure.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Major up-turn noticed in Dubai hotel, property sectors

The vibrant hotel sector in Dubai is a major boost to the retail and residential sectors, as these sectors have begun to show signs of resilience amidst the regional unrest. This has reinforced Dubai's position as leading global destination for tourists and investors, revealed a recent report.

The unrest prevailing elsewhere in the region has actually made Dubai as much sought-after destination, with several tourists having re-scheduled their holidays to the UAE, due to volatility in other parts of the region, said the Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) report.

Although the Dubai hotel sector has been immensely benefitted by the Arab Spring, the retail and residential sectors too, have received a boost over the past nine months.

According to Chief Executive of JLL, Alan Robertson, the current political and economic stability of the UAE will continue to bring in long-term benefits for Dubai real estate market.

However, for a more sustainable recovery, this up-turn will have to be converted into broader economic activity, so as to boost employment sector too, but there is not much happening yet, said Robertson.
According to Robertson, the Arab Spring has made a positive impact on the hotel, residential, and retail sectors of Dubai market. The hotel and retail sectors have been pushed into recovery stage, while the residential market is also improving. The Arab Spring led to stronger performance during first half of the year. But, these benefits may be limited by the fluctuating financial concerns emanating from US and Europe over the past few months.

The JLL report also pointed out that Dubai Airport is currently the fourth busiest airport in the world, reporting year-on-year arrivals of 9.5percent. Dubai hotels achieved an average occupancy rate of 78percent, driven by major increase in number of GCC nationals visiting Dubai. The retail sector also benefitted from the unrest in other parts of the region, as major malls in Dubai recorded increase in traffic and sales activity.

The residential sector too, saw increased demand, as those concerned about stability and security elsewhere in the region, turned towards Dubai. However, this is yet to translate into increased rentals or pricing of houses. The outlook for residential market in Dubai is mixed, with the sector approaching bottom of property cycle. Villas in upmarket locations are clearly performing better than apartments both in terms of sale prices and rentals.

The office sector has been least affected, and continues to be more tenant-favourable, with rentals and selling prices continuing to decline in several parts of Dubai throughout 2011.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Floating Islands likely to turn into reality in 'The World'

Investors of The World project, who have a water mass on their islands, now have an alternative option of obtaining a self-sustainable floating island.

The concept has been introduced by the Dutch Company, which is responsible for construction of Nakheel's Floating Proverb, which spreads across 89 floating islands surround Palm Jebel Ali. The project spreads across a surface area of 220,000 square meters and spells out an Arabic poem when read from the air.

According to Paul van de Camp, Chief Executive Officer, Dutch Dockland, talks are being held with some private investors about launching a floating island on The World.

Several investors, who purchased an island on The World, got water mass. Heavy investments would be required to make these islands ready for construction. Therefore, if they were offered a self-supportable floating island, which could be built by combining an already existing landmass, they could be made more feasible.

With all the necessary equipments within the island, it becomes totally self-sustainable, and the owners do not have to look for an outside help on getting any infrastructure readied.

Dutch Docklands has the reputation for producing zero footprint floating projects, and numerous other concepts, including building a floating Olympic Village and a stadium.

Plans are also underway to introduce this concept to the Qatari government, hoping to turn it into reality. As Qatar will be hosting the World Cup and is bidding for the Olympics, they will require the necessary infrastructure and stadiums. Docklands is of the opinion that Qatar can consider building a floating stadium or even a whole village.

Last year, the Dutch Dockland entered into a joint venture with government of Maldives to develop several floating amenities, including a 18-hole golf course, private villas and a hotel.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nearly 300 villas to be ready in Jumeirah Golf Estate by December 2012

The luxury golf community, Jumeirah Golf Estate will see the completion of infrastructure works, dedicated power substation and more than 300 villas before next year-end.

Work has begun on the 132KV power substation, which will be ready by next year, with Alstom, a French conglomerate being the contractor for construction, testing and commissioning the substation. The substation is currently 64percent complete, revealed a Nakheel spokesperson.

The company also hopes to complete 160 villas in Whispering Pines in November 2012, while 99 villas and 47 mansions in the Flame Tree Ridge and Fireside respectively, are likely to be ready by December 2012.

The ETA-Ascon-Star Group Company, Ascon Road Construction, has begun working on the main infrastructure, completing works associated with district road, main ring road, district roads and underground utilities such as irrigation, water and sewage systems. The main infrastructure works are almost 57percent complete, with more progress likely in the coming months.

Electrical works are likely to begin this quarter. A UK-based private construction solutions provider, Laing O’Rourke, will deliver all 160 villas in the Whispering Pines district, a community of three and four bedroom villas in Tuscan style. The infrastructure works are making good progress too.

According to Nakheel spokesman, the project is almost 43 percent complete, and will be completed by November 2012.

Meanwhile, the Dubai-based Al Nekhreh Contracting has begun working on the Flame Tree Ridge and Fireside districts, with 99 villas on Flame Tree Ridge and 47 Mansions on Fireside to be ready by December 2012. At present, Flame Tree Ridge is 46percent complete and Fireside is 55percent complete.

The Flame Tree Ridge comprises five-bedroom villas located between Fire and Earth courses, and offers wonderful views of both. The vibrant Flame Tree is known for its great orange-red flowers.

Designed by Greg Norman, Fireside is considered as most prestigious among all its developments. It comprises 66 five and six bedroom houses, built around tranquil gardens and tiered fountains.

Nakheel, during the month of June, confirmed that the Dubai government will offer funding for completion of development, covering an area of 1119 hectares. But, work has been suspended on Water and Wind, of the four courses in 2009.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Homes in Dubai more affordable than in Abu Dhabi

The rents in Dubai have fallen as much as 11percent, while Abu Dhabi has noticed rentals falling by six percent during the third quarter, said the Q3 property report by Asteco.

The cheapest single bedroom flats worth Dh.30,000 to Dh.40,000 were found in Khalifa Cities A and B and Mohammad Bin Zayed (MBZ) city in Mussafah, Abu Dhabi, although they were of low-quality comparatively.
In prime properties, even the cheapest single bedroom flats may cost Dh.40,000 to Dh.50000. But, such properties falling in this range, are also available in Khalifa A and B.

However, properties in Dubai are most affordable, as rents in Dubai are cheaper than in Abu Dhabi, says Vineet Kumar, Head of Business Development, Asteco Property Management in Dubai.

For instance, a single bedroom flat in a new building centrally located in an established area in the capital may be rented for Dh.90,000 to Dh.100,000 per annum, while the same property in Dubai will be rented for Dh.70,000 to Dh.75,000, he pointed out.

However, according to the Asteco report, Abu Dhabi has already shown signs of stabilization. Rentals in Abu Dhabi registered six percent decrease on an average during the third quarter, which is smaller than 8percent and 9percent declines recorded during previous two quarters.

Several units have been delivered to the market, and this may have a downward effect on rentals. The most significant among these is the Al Zeina project at Al Raha Beach with 952 apartments,124 villas, 26 penthouses and 119 townhouses, the report said.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Dubai's Rolex Tower bags Overall Project of the Year 2011 award

The 235m tall Rolex Tower in Dubai, has been named "Overall Project of the Year", during the Middle East Architect Awards 2011.

Designed by SOM (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill), the Rolex Tower is owned and managed by Seddiqi and Sons Investment, the real estate arm of the leading UAE timepiece retailer Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons.
The Rolex Tower is the result of a 50-year partnership between Rolex and Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, a spectacular glass-fronted symbol of timeless elegance, precision and quality.

The 62-storey mixed-use Rolex Tower in Dubai is one of the next-generation high rises located along Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. The tower has a total structural height of 235m, with residential and office facades, and was unveiled on 7th November 2010.

Among the major features of the building are light wells and slots in the facade, panoramic penthouses located along the roof floors, and high performance fritted glazing on the tower facades.

The Consulting Partner at SOM, George Efstathiou, who received the award, said that this award is indicative of the quality design work that comes from SOM. Dubai has been the second home for SOM over the past eight years. Rolex is synonymous with timelessness, and the Rolex Tower is a timeless building.
The judges hailed the tower as an excellent elegant addition to the Sheikh Zahed Road skyline in Dubai, amongst several other flamboyant towers.

SOM was awarded in the same category last year for its Burj Khalifa project. Among the other projects that were shortlisted for this category were Al Manara Project by TNQ Architects & Engineers, Al Shaqab in Qatar by Leigh & Orange Qatar, and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi.
SOM’s Efstathiou also won the prize for ‘Architect of the Year 2011’.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Furnished R-Serviced offices available at Business Bay's Crystal Towers

The UAE master developer, REEF Real Estate Investments has launched R-Serviced offices in Crystal Towers in Business Bay. These R-services offices are ready-to-use offices and are ideal for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

These offices house the world's leading oil and gas corporations and blue chip entities of the world, including OMV, Lukoil, and Weatherford’s.

The Managing Director of Reef Real Estate Investments and Chairman of R-Serviced Offices, Shaikh Ahmad Mohammad Zayed Saqer Al Nahyan, said that few commercial addresses are more prestigious than Crystal Towers, and he expressed optimism over these new additions to the portfolio of Middle East.
The Chief Executive of R-Offices, Ian Llyod, said that it is all about working smarter through leveraged office space designs that focus on latest innovations, while also serving the needs of corporate world.

The international business community responded well to the first location of Reef Tower in the DMCC Free Zone, and the same positive reaction is expected in Business Bay too, he said.

R-Offices were first launched in August 2009 with just a single storey of serviced office space. Now, this spans across 13 floors. But, with tenants constantly competing for space, rents may be tempered owing to recession, and the incentives for tenants may recede significantly.

Just as is the case with all R-Serviced Office suites, each office at Crystal Towers is fully furnished at competitive monthly rate. The offices can be rented on short-term or long-term basis with flexible leasing terms and pricing.

According to Shaikh Ahmed, several of the new supplies have been already absorbed without any major impact on leasing rates. The future office supply in Dubai will be less than 30 percent of that anticipated from 2011 to 2013, owing to governmental initiatives to control oversupply.

Dubai witnessed addition of at least 15 million square feet of office space in 2010, which led to total of 48mn square feet of office space in Dubai. An additional 12mn square feet of commercial space was projected for 2011, taking the total vacancy levels to nearly 40 percent. However, despite the new supply, the market showed considerable resilience.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Value of completed buildings in Dubai hits an all-time quarterly high

The value of completed buildings in Dubai surged by more than 220percent, during the third quarter this year, touching an all-time quarterly high, according to statistics by the Dubai Municipality.

The statistics were published in the Dubai Statistics Centre website, which said that the values increased by more than 220 percent, touching Dh.14.07bn, in comparison to the previous quarter this year, when the value of completed buildings were just Dh.4.4bn.

Moreover, this value is more than double the value of buildings during the same quarter in 2010, the statistics revealed. Therefore, this marks an all-time quarterly high for value of completed buildings since the year 2005, as per Dubai Municipality data.

The surge in values of completed buildings may be largely due to the huge surge in value of industrial buildings, and sure in values of public amenities completed during the quarter.

This increase in activity is a reason to celebrate for the industrial property market in Dubai, says Cluttons, the real estate specialists in their latest Dubai property market update.

Moreover, during the third quarter this year, there has been increased demand from international light industrial and logistics occupiers who entered the market seeking better quality units, said Cluttons, the real estate specialists in their latest Dubai Property Market Update.

Meanwhile, the number of completed buildings in Dubai, grew by more than 15percent, touching a total of 736 from 638, quarter-on-quarter. However, it was 17percent lower than the number of completed buildings during the same quarter last year.

The last time when the value of completed buildings in Dubai hit a low, was during the fourth quarter of 2009, when 614 buildings worth Dh.4.32bn were completed. Thereafter, the value of completed buildings has always seen marked improvement.

While last year Dh.30.8bn worth of buildings were completed during the first three quarters, this year, at least Dh.24bn  worth of buildings have been completed as per data.

Cluttons revealed that a steady demand has been witnessed for high quality residential buildings in the Emirates Living, Marina, Downtown, Jumeirah, and Arabian Ranches. There is also demand for high quality office space in Dubai, especially from large space users seeking to consolidate from an old obsolete space spread around the city, to a modern, efficient office space. This trend is likely to continue, said Cluttons.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tameer announces completion of Elite Residence project

Tameer Holding Investment, the leading real estate developer in the Middle East, announced that its 91-storey Elite Residence project in Dubai has touched the final height of 381 metres.

The developer has just completed the roof structure and mast of the Dh.1.7bn tower. On completion of this milestone, and with all plant and equipments in place, the tower crane has been removed now. The team is currently working on the internal finishing, as the project goes through its final stages.

The President of Tameer, Federico Tauber, mentioned that given the central location of the project, and its vicinity to several prestigious landmarks including the Dubai Internet City, Dubai Marina, Knowledge Village, Media City, Jebel Ali Free Zone, and Media City, and its access to transport routes through road, metro and Al Sofouh tram, the Elite Residence will soon be one of the most sought-after addresses.

Given the unique design which combines classic architecture with modern layout and stylish finishing, the 91-storey Elite Residence tower offers all major amenities, including sports and recreation facilities, fully-equipped gymnasium, sauna and steam rooms, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, multi-function rooms, and children play areas.

The project offers a range of spacious single and double bedroom apartments, three and four bedroom penthouses, and a total of 697 apartments, all of which, will together make home for around 1500 residents.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dubai’s launches new fund to focus on domestic real estate market

Dubai has launched a fund that focuses on its domestic real estate market, as the government aims to strengthen property prices, which have fallen two-thirds from their peak in 2008.

The government’s Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) and Brookfield Asset Management will contribute seed funding of $100mn into the $1bn capped fund.

The Chief Executive of ICD, Mohammed al-Shaibani, said that ICD is looking forward to help in recovery of Dubai property market.

The government has also received some informal commitments from investors in other parts of Gulf States.
The 8-10 year fund marks a considerable government intervention into the broader real estate market of Dubai.

Dubai had received a $20bn bail-out from the UAE and Abu Dhabi, to write-off default in 2009. Early this year, it completed the $25bn re-structuring of the troubled ‘Dubai World’ conglomerate.

The government, as a part of its re-financing efforts, pumped in $9bn into the development arm of Dubai World, Nakheel. Further, to help revive interest in the Dubai property market, the residency visas linked to property ownership were extended from six months to three years, by the UAE government.

The fund “combines strategic intervention with potential commercial opportunity,” coming amidst signs of recovery as prices stabilize in popular districts around the world, including the world’s tallest tower, Burj Khalifa.

However, oversupply continues to be a concern with the rest of the real estate market, with could lead to price declines by another 20 percent, revealed a local investment bank, Arqaam Capital. But, there are several encouraging signs, with the arrival of long-term capital into the sector, marking early signs of recovery of the market, said Bruce Flatt, Chief Executive of Brookfield.

Dubai has grown to be a safe haven during regional turmoil, as Arab revolutions have led to a situation of instability to the MENA (Middle East and North Africa). The core businesses of trade, transport, and tourism have also been growing strongly over the past several years, as the city plunged into recession in 2009.

However, the cause of concern is the impact of global slowdown on Dubai’s open economy, and its ability to re-finance the $110bn debts, with $14bn of them likely to mature in 2012.

The fund is a good start, and is a step in the right direction, which can drive confidence back to the market. Dubai, may be close to the bottom, but it will see some upside within months, commented V Shankar, Chief Executive of Standard Chartered – Europe, Middle East, Africa and America.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Emaar's new Dawahi Development to focus on value-housing projects

Emaar Properties, yesterday, launched Dawahi Development, its new wholly-owned subsidiary, and a next-generation developer of value-housing projects within full-service community developments.

Launched under guidance and support of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Dawahi Development is the region’s leading developer of integrated communities ideally suited for Arab youth and their families.

Dawahi Development will develop affordable homes at attractive rates in major emerging markets across the MENA region, while also creating strong employment and business opportunities for local population.

The Chairman of Emaar, Mohamed Alabbar, revealed that the UAE’s current position as a developmental leader and Dubai's positive role both at regional and international levels has been due to the strong inspirational futuristic vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed.

The Dawahi Development has helped in creating a new category of homes and communities, which offer value to young families. This new category has been defined as the mid-price point housing, Alabbar said.
The value housing projects have been considered as modern, full-service communities, featuring a range of lifestyle amenities and utilities. The Dawahi Development’s communities will include healthcare centres, educational institutions, restaurants, retail outlets, community and sports centres, Mosques, and leisure options.
Emaar, in its statement, confirmed that Dawahi Development will function as a separate entity with a dedicated management team and professional staff members, focusing on value-housing projects throughout the Arab region.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

DIFC continues to maintain more than 95percent occupancy rates

The Gate District of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has managed to maintain occupancy rate of more than 95percent, while third-party developments within the free zone have leased out more than 58percent of their office space, revealed senior government officials.

The Gate District, which includes the Gate Building, Gate Precinct and Gate Village, has seen more than 95percent occupancy levels. Meanwhile, strong demand from new companies and existing clients within third party developments such as Currency House, Currency Tower, and Liberty House has touched 58percent, said Chief Executive Officer at DIFC, Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, said.

DIFC officials revealed that during December 2010, occupancy levels has been 95percent in DIFC-owned buildings, while third-party developers leased out more than 35percent of their space

The total leasable commercial space at DIFC owned buildings has been 1.217mn square feet in June 2011, while total commercial office space within third party developers were 769,000 square feet.  Nearly two million square feet of commercial office space at DIFC is likely to be handed over by third-party developers during the next 18 to 24 months.

The centre has also announced its new pricing structure, offering tenants more than 50percent discounts with rentals starting Dh.160per square feet to maximum of Dh.280 per square feet in 2011.

According to Al Awar, the revised pricing structure which was rolled out in 2011, provides long-term visibility to clients, in terms of operating costs, by offering better rates for larger spaces and longer leasing periods.

The prime rental levels within DIFC Gate Building range between Dh.240 and Dh.330. Cluttons, the real estate consultancy, believes that vacancy rates has grown in DIFC during the third quarter, with the number of commercial buildings in free zone area being brought to the market.

According to Al Awar, the third party developments are continuing on track, with several residents and companies having moved into the completed units.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Abu Dhabi real estate market turns highly competitive

The real estate market in Abu Dhabi has turned increasingly competitive, in terms of rental pricing and supply of quality products during the third quarter this year, said the latest Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) report.
In its latest report, JLL MENA revealed that despite delayed deliveries of few projects, the market continued to witness additional supplies during the third quarter, with 2800 new units being delivered across the residential, office, retail, and hospitality sectors.

The trend is likely to continue into the fourth quarter this year, and more scheduled handovers are expected, the report pointed out.

Abu Dhabi real estate market will grow to be favourable to both buyers and tenants, as the number of residential units are likely to touch 246,000 towards the year 2013, from the present 193,000 units, according to experts.

Last year, abundant supplies and increased vacancies had led to rental declines of nearly 10percent for prime double bedroom units and more than 30 percent decline for lower quality units.

As for the office sector, Grade A office stock has grown by 55,000 sqm, touching nearly 2.4mn sqm during the third quarter. Further, with another 20 percent vacancies, and 150,000 sqm of additional stock yet to enter the market in the next quarter, a downward pressure is likely in Grade A and Grade B office sectors, the report said.

The Head of JLL MENA Abu Dhabi office, David Dudley, said that the government has taken measures to restrict the future supplies, as already enough new supplies have been delivered in the residential, office and retail market during the third quarter.

Given, the downward rental pressure with increased vacancies, tenants across various sectors can now upgrade to new and better quality properties without having to shell out much, he pointed out.

On the whole, improved cost competitiveness, coupled with implementation of market-friendly initiatives by the government, will trigger further demand, and make Abu Dhabi property market more competitive.

Abu Dhabi has also become a competitive market for tenants during the last quarter, given, the narrowing gap in rentals between Grade A and Grade B office sectors.

However, the government has also decided to consolidate projects and government entities, and re-prioritize investment. This may have a short-term negative impact on the market, but such moves may prove very positive for medium-term outlook of the market.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Americans, Russians lists topmost among majority land buyers

Americans and Russians were among the top buyers of land and apartments, according to latest data revealed by Dubai Land Department.

During the first half of this year, nearly $10bn worth of land and apartment deals have been registered, the report said.

UAE nationals topped the list of land buyers, investing almost Dh.5.599bn, while Indians were topmost apartment buyers, having spent nearly Dh.3.280bn.

Americans have purchased 66 land plots worth Dh.335mn, and 456 apartments worth Dh.615mn, while

Russians have invested Dh.279mn towards purchase of 41 plots and 791 apartments for Dh.1.291bn.

Britons are said to have purchased 239 plots for Dh.1.090bn, Pakistanis purchased 132 plots for Dh.44mn and Iranians having purchased 107 plots for Dh.521mn.

Following UAE nationals, were Indians, the top apartment buyers, having invested Dh.3.280bn for purchase of apartments. Britons were second in purchase of apartments with 1,818 units being purchased for Dh.2.396bn, followed by Pakistanis investing Dh.1.261bn for apartments, and Iranians spending Dh.2.2522bn for apartments.

The total land and apartment purchases during the first half of the year touched Dh.14.619bn and Dh.21.057bn respectively, making a total of Dh.35.68bn.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dubai homeowners still facing aftermath of 2008 recession

Homeowners in Dubai are still facing the impact of the 2008 property recession, with property prices still being too high for them to offload it at current market rates. This fact was revealed in the latest poll by ‘Emirates 24/7’.

The poll revealed that 81percent of respondents are of the opinion that their properties in Dubai are still in negative equity, while more than 55percent revealed that their property is worth 50percent less than their purchasing rates. Another 17percent revealed that they have incurred 30 to 35 percent losses, while 9percent said they are in 25percent negative equity.

One of the respondents to the survey said that with the losses being substantial, he is willing to wait for a couple of years for appreciation in property prices.

However, some owners have agreed that they have noticed that their home value have attained the purchase value levels, while others have seen slight appreciation.

Experts are of the opinion that the drop in prices seen after 2008 has now finally ended with stabilisation seen in real estate sector, and a slight increase in prices of properties in certain communities.

The latest property reports about Dubai real estate market reveal that the prices have remained steady for quality buildings in prime locations this year.

The selling prices and rents for villas have remained stable with only minor declines for apartment rents, while a slight decline of 3percent has been noticed in office market, according to Q3 2011 Asteco report.
Although selling prices for apartments were stable in locations such as Dubai International Financial Centre,

Palm Jumeirah and Jumeirah Beach Residence, properties in Discovery Gardens have seen a 10percent dip. However, quality buildings in well-established developments continued to hold on to their value.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Real Estate Investor Protection Law likely in Dubai towards year-end

Dubai is likely to implement the Real Estate Investor Protection Law towards the year-end, revealed a senior official at the Dubai Land Department (DLD) yesterday.

The Director General of DLD, Sultan bin Butti bin Mejrin, said that a consultant has been appointed for review and to finalize the law, which will be issued by the year-end.

This will be an important regulation, and therefore, it has to be checked for perfection before issuance, he pointed out.

No new details were given by bin Mejrin, by the new law is hoped to clarify several issues such as steps to be taken in case of project delays, and whether an investor can cancel a contract, if the developer fails to fulfil any contractual obligation, and more.

Once the code for corporate governance is implemented by DLD in 2013, all developers will have to reveal recourse and any available alternatives for prospective investors in cases of delay in completion of projects. The code will also ensure that the companies keep their investors informed about various other available options including swaps or refunds in case of any project delays.

The Senior Legal Advisor at DLD, Emad Eldin Farouq, said that the department plans to introduce new legislations to restore investor confidence in the market, although emphasis is laid on promoting efficient alternative dispute resolution.

Friday, October 07, 2011

DLD launches lifeline to save stalled projects

The Dubai Land Department (DLD) is ready to help property owners and investors of stalled projects who seek inclusion of the project under Tanmia initiative.

The Senior Councel Strategy, DLD, Majida Ali Rashed, revealed that investors of stalled projects can visit the DLD, and the department will look into all technical and legal aspects.

The initiative was launched in mid-September and is aimed at revitalizing the property market by focusing on the incomplete projects under all categories. Construction on certain projects have been halted for more than a year now, with foreign developers having declared bankruptcy in their home countries.

The Director General of Land Department, Sultan bin Butti bin Mijren, when sepaking about the Tanmia initiative mentioned that it would cover 100 projects next year, and the department would continue with it for at least next three to four years, although the process may not be an easy one.

The scheme is aimed at government and private sector, and will help them benefit from these projects, although that does not seem easy. All legal, technical and financial factors will have to be considered before taking over the project, Mijren said.

Nearly 225 projects are currently in progress in Dubai, to be delivered in next three years time, bin Mijren revealed.

Meanwhile, the latest Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) report had revealed that Dubai will see compeltion of nearly 5000 units towards this year-end, with over 27,000 units left for completion next year.

In the third quarter this year, nearly 4000 units have been completed, which saw the total residential stock touch 326,000 units. Among the major projects completed in this quarter were La Riviera at Jumeirah Village, Grosvenor House Residence at Dubai Marina, and Masakin in Jumeirah Park.

DLD has been bringing in new initiatives to revive the real estate market. Launched in June last year, the Tayseer initiative initially covered 40 projects across Business Bay, Jumeirah Lake Towers and Dubai Marina, extending to more than 114 projects in the course of time.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Abu Dhabi property market stable in Q3 2011

The Abu Dhabi real estate market has begun to show signs of stabilization during the third quarter this year. Apartment rental rates have begun declining, touching 6percent, in comparison to 8% and 9% during the previous two quarters, according to quarterly Real Estate Monitor by Asteco.

The rental rates for villas in the third quarter have been comparatively static, although villa rentals in off-island locations like the Mohamed Bin Zayed City and Khalifa City, continued to decline by 5percent on average.

The Al Zeina project at Raha Beach comprising 952 apartments, 26 penthouses, 124 villas, and 119 townhouses was one of the major new supplies in the market. Meanwhile, the Zone A units in Reem Island at Marina Square have been completed, while the delivery dates for individual investors of Zones B, C and D are yet to be announced.

According to Elaine Jones, CEO of Asteco Property Management, the strong rental demand is largely due to the desire of the existing residents to upgrade and secure an accommodation that has better value for money.

The market is still charactrised by low sales volume, which has had an impact on prices, although the sales enquiry levels continue to grow on par with delivery of completed projects.

Aldar has announced a rent-to-own scheme, to boost sales activity in the market. The scheme is effective for properties at Al Bandar, and Al Zeina. Tenants are allowed to pay a fixed rental for two years, with 100percent rent in the first year, 90percent of second year’s rent converted into a deposit towards purchase at current sales price, with more details about the scheme still awaited.

Such rent-to-own scheme is an effective way to stimulate demand, according to Jones.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Dubai commercial market sees rise in tenant activity

The latest Q3 commercial market report  for Dubai by Cluttons, the leading real estate specialist in Dubai, indicated an improvement in tenant activity as vacancy levels in the emirate continue to increase, touching nearly 50percent.

With high levels of supply seen in new commercial area, there is an increase in number of small businesses, offering large choice and competitive rents. But, there is still limited choice for Grade A single ownership buildings meant for regional and international headquarters.

With more office buildings getting completed, more than 12mn square feet is likely to be completed in the market by the year-end. The increase in vacancy rates will continue to put downward pressure on rents in certain areas of the city.

The tenant demand is generally driven by increased affordability of rents and opportunity to move into new offices from old ones. The DIFC has seen increase in vacancy rates over the past quarter, with several commercial buildings being incorporated into the freezone area of the market.

Cluttons has seen increased activity with more businesses on the periphery re-locating their satellite offices back into the core DIFC. Cluttons has also reported the trend of tenats getting relocated to modern offices in the Central Business District area from older districts like Bur Dubai and Deira.

Moreover, the terms by landlords are more flexible and attractive. Several landlords are also taking up the responsibility to pay agency fee so that they can no longer be a liability to the tenant, with the practice being common in foreign market.

According to Cluttons, this scenario will help in taking Dubai property market to a higher level.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Two new communities adds vibrancy to Mirdif Township

Dubai's Mirdif, which was once thought to be a distant suburb of Dubai, is now a a vibrant township.

Shurooq and Ghoroob communities are the latest addition by Dubai Properties Group (DPG) to Mirdiff’s alternative to city's living. With occupancy levels being more than 80percent in both communities, these communities have been highly successful in attracting couples, families and singles seeking affordable, quality accommodation, located within city limits.

Shorooq is a Gated Community which offers relaxed living spaces in its spacious villa residences and apartments. Apart from the 24-hour security, the quality residential units offer proximity to both schools and leisure amenities. Shorooq is the ideal community for mid-sized families seeking upmarket housing.

Ghoroob on the other hand, has prime residential aprtments for rent, offering a choice of studio, single, double and triple bedroom apartments, that are ideal for single executives and youngsters with families, offering quality affordable housing solutions.

Both the developments are only minutes away from Mirdif City Centre and Uptown Mirdif Shopping malls, and are in proximity to Rashidiya Metro Station and Dubai International Airport and major roadways. They are good option for residents who wish to commute between Dubai, Ajman and Sharjah.

The Ghoroob and Shorooq communities actually reflect DPG's commitment to deliver sustainable communities that focus on market demand for quality and affordability. The homes within Shorooq and Ghoroob communities actually reflect the commitment by these communities to offer diverse lifestyles and deliver a range of property solutions, wherein people can live, play and work.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Work on Dh 2bn Phoenix Mall to begin soon

A new development spanning more than eight million square feet, located on the outskirts of Dubai, will help attract from foreign direct investments into the UAE, said the developer of the project, Meraas Holding.

The Dubai-based real estate firm Meeraas Holding  will begin work on the Phoenix project, including the Phoenix Mart Mall, on signing the Dh.2bn investment deal with Chinese company, China Longines.

The development will be built adjacent to Dragon Mart, and is due for completion in two years time, said Sina Al Kazim, Chief Business Development Officer, Meeras Holding.

The Dh.2bn investment will be contributed in the ratio 70:30, with 70percent coming from Chinese government, while 30percent will be given by China Longines. A BOT deal has been signed for operation of the mall for next 30 years before transferring the project to Meraas Holding.

He also said that several areas of US, China and India will help secure foreign direct investment into Dubai, and will include a range of sectors, including real estate, industrial and recreation, which will complement the growing Dubai economy.

The Phoenix project will include a five star hotel and car parking amenities, and will be three times the size of the current Dragon Mart Complex. The mall will include 6000 outlets, and vast majority will be new brand names from China.

The mall will be operational at a higher level than Dragon Mart and will be appealing to expatriates of all nationalities, although majority of mall’s clientele will be Chinese expats.

According to CBRE Head of Research and Consultancy for UAE, Matthew Green, the project is just right for the locality, as the demographics of the catchment fits well with the mall.

The Phoenix Mart will cater to a niche market, and will benefit due to its location, adjacent to nearly 25,000 units at International City and Silicon Oasis Development.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Latest Dubai property market update: CBRE

During the ongoing Cityscape Global Exhibition 2011 being held in Dubai, Matthew Green, Head of Research and Consultancy for CBRE Middle East, summarized the latest developments in the Dubai property market.

The prime office rents in the Central Business District (CBD) have stabilized, as stable growth has been reflected during three consecutive quarters, which indicates the strength of central office area among wider market weaknesses. New supplies have been limited, and therefore, the vacancy rates have been comparative low over the past 12 months, although there is still 45% vacancy reported across the market.
Outside the prime CBD, office rents exhibit deflationary pressure. This is largely due to migration of tenants from older areas of the city, which pressurizes landlords to compete for tenants and ultimately drive down rents.

A similar situation has also been noticed in Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Business Bay, with major influx of new commercial supplies, which is pushing down prices, leading to huge incentives for tenants.

Metro Green Line
Opening of the new Metro Green line is a huge step in the development of Dubai, with the emirate and UAE in general, continuing to invest heavily into infrastructure, Matthew Green said. This new Metro Line is just another step ahead in evolution of Dubai, as it offers companies with fast and efficient business set-up. This fact was further highlighted during the recent Global Competitiveness Report 2011-12, with UAE being ranked 8th overall for quality of infrastructure.

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has several projects from private developers that have now achieved handover, while others will be ready in a span of one year. The increased supply at the DIFC estate continues to add pressure to rentals for non-DIFC managed buildings. However, occupancies and rents at the DIFC Gate developments continue to add the precedent for the entire market in terms of rents and occupancies. Prime rental levels in DIFC Gate Building are currently in the range Dh.240-330, inclusive of service charge.

Other Free Zones
The Dubai Freezone will continue to outperform the wider market, by maintaining higher rental levels and occupancy rates within the Freezone Authority buildings, in comparison to that of the private managed counterparts.

The occupiers have expressed satisfaction over quality of office accommodation, and also the standards of property management and amenities from the Authorities, as they are of better quality than the majority of privately managed buildings.

Speaking about the future market, Matthew Green said that an uptick in activity is likely to happen in the final quarter of this year, particularly in office agency and investment markets. For the first time, Dubai’s prime income generating assets will enter the market for sale, and this will generate huge interest in the global investment community.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Damac to deliver maximum property units in UAE in 2011

Damac Properties, leading luxury developer, during the ongoing Cityscape Global 2011, announced that it has delivered more number of units in the UAE, that delivered by any other developer this year.

Having completed 21 buildings comprising nearly 4,072 units till date this year, Damac mentioned that its primary focus has always been construction and delivery.

Speaking during the event, the Senior Vice President of Damac, Niall Mc Loughlin, pointed out that no other developer in Dubai has been able to sustain the high standards of quality and quantity of construction that Damac has accomplished so far, despite the onset of recession.

Damac has completed a total of 36 buildings, with 7,364 units, ever since its establishment in 2002. Among these completed buildings, at least 30 have been completed after the onset of recession in 2008.

The notable handovers in 2011 by Damac are the 84-storey luxurious Ocean Heights tower in Dubai Marina, comprising 612 units handed over at the start of this year. This was shortly followed by delivery of ‘Lago Vista’ at I.M.P.Z, comprising 1020 units.

Mc Loughlin pointed out that Damac has a track record of having constructed atleast 15 units a week since its incorporation. Being a company which has been in operation for less than ten years, Damac has achieved considerable milestones.

The major projects completed by Damac since the onset of recession in 2008 are The Crescent, Ocean Heights, Emirates Garden, Business Tower, Lago Vista, XL Tower, Park Towers, Smart Heights, and Tuscan Residence.

There have been improved sales enquiries since the end of Ramadan. The developer feels that this could be partly due to increased investor confidence in the region, and also due to selection of quality inventory by Damac.

Apart from the completed projects portfolio, the developer has another 50 buildings, comprising 9849 units, under construction, across the region.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cityscape real estate expo 2011, 27 to 29 September 2011

The Cityscape real estate exhibition 2011 will be unveiled at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from 27th September, and will run until 29th September 2011.

The global event is being unveiled this year amidst indications about an oversupplied property market on its way to recovery. On the other end, the global economic backdrop is seen further moving downwards, thereby tightening industry investments and launch of fresh projects.

The real estate sector in general and Dubai in particular, is operating in post-crash mode for the past two to three years, said Chiheb Ben-Mahmoud, Executive Vice President, JLL.

During the years of real estate boom in Dubai, the Cityscape Exhibition saw the launch of most ambitious real estate projects, including a list of super-rich and famous. Among the high profile developments that were unveiled during this period were the likes of Burj Khalifa, and The World. Participants even got the opportunity to meet Holywood stars like Antonio Banderas and sporting legends like Michael Schumacher, as they promoted various developments.

However, this year’s three-day event will be celebrity-free, and according to analysts, the event will be considered as a bellwether for local market sentiment. The market will get to see the progress made on some of the major projects in the emirate, although any new major developments may be unlikely to be announced. However, details about some stalled projects will be revealed, said Matthew Green, Head of research, CBRE.

The Cityscape Global this year will be more realistic, with focus on construction, said Wouter Molman, Exhibition Director at Cityscape. More realist projects that are commercially viable, can be expected, said an executive.

Although future projects may not be seen in the agenda, but there are opportunities for investments in existing developments. However, a higher turnout is not expected for the event, as UAE realty sector is continuing to experience downward pricing pressure in comparison to last year, said a senior analyst at Rasmala Investment Bank in Dubai.

5% rise in Dubai villa prices, apartments hit bottom in Q3 2011

Villa prices in Dubai has grown five percent during third quarter of this year, owing to limited supply, and the trend is likely to continue in short to medium term, say the latest report from Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the leading global real estate consultancy.

However, JLL has clarified that the growth in villa prices are unlikely to continue into the broader residential market during rest of the year.

The chance of recovery in 2012, will depend on the rate of economic growth, and demand for residential properties in Dubai by end-users, JLL said.

Dubai will witness completion of at least 5000 units by the end of this year, with another 27,000 units due for completion next year. This will lead to increased supplies and thereby, delay in price recovery, the report points out.

During the third quarter alone, new completions totalled to 4000 units, bringing total residential properties to 326,000 units. Majority of completions during this quarter were in Grosvenor House Residence in Dubai Marina, Masak in Jumeirah Park, and La Riviera in Jumeirah Village.

Fresh supplies are likely to come in from Dubai Marina, Dubailand, and Sports City during the fourth quarter. In September alone, nearly 11,000 units, constituting 56percent have been completed.

JLL said an improvement in sentiment in Dubai residential market has been witnessed during first nine months of the year, based on reports from property agents and valuers.

As for apartments, Dubai has seen slight drop or rather stable prices, indicating that market is almost hitting its bottom.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tanmia - new real estate development plan to strengthen property market

The Dubai Land Department (DLD) has launched Tanmia, a real estate development plan, which will cover nearly 100 projects in 2012, spanning next three to four years, a senior official revealed.

The Director General of Land Department, Sultan bin Butti bin Mejren, revealed that one of the projects have already received approval under the initiative, and two more will be agreed this week.

Already several developers have applied under this programme, but only 100 projects are considered for next year. Bin Mejren, however, clarified that the developers will not be allowed to bring in investors on their own.

Currently, there are 225 projects under progress in Dubai, and will be delivered in next three years.

The department needs to protect the right of investors and the developer, and therefore, it needs to be involved in these deals. This initiative aims to address the issue faced in completion of faltering projects in the domestic market in the emirate, he said.

Very soon, deals will be signed with developers and investors who wish to gain benefits of initiative, including uncompleted projects, irrespective of their achievement rate. The DLD will monitor implementation of the initiative.

The Real estate Development plan will supplement other initiatives too like Tayseer, which has signed nearly 48 projects. The number of projects registered under Tayseer, the guaranteed funding plan, has touched 114 so far. One of the projects has been funded through the initiative.

Tayseer was launched in June last year and 40 projects in Dubai Marina, Business Bay, and Jumeirah Lake Towers were approved in the first phase. This move is hoped to boost liquidity in the market, and strengthen the confidence in Dubai real estate sector.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New deal between DLD, Wasl to focus on off-plan investments

The Dubai Land Department (DLD) will soon identify, propose and evaluate off-plan investments, according to latest deal of the DLD with Wasl Asset Management Group.

Wasl, is the subsidiary of the Govenment-owned Dubai Real Estate Corp. This new deal is hoped to restore the lost confidence in Dubai’s property market and promote government and private institutions to sign similar deals as per their Tanmia initiative.

The Senior Director at DLD, Majida Ali Rashid, mentioned that the organization will study the inventories of all stalled Dubai projects, and determine the ratio of achievement, prior to assessing the legal status of these projects and offering them on sale or lease to interested parties.

The proposal will help in identifying the property, proposal for purchasing intended project, and the evaluation. The proposal will recommend appropriate price, and necessary measures will be taken with respect to liquidation of projects, settlement of rights and legal hassles associated with the project, the DLD revealed.

According to analysts, this initiative by DLD will help restore confidence in Dubai property market, although investors are still hesitant over purchasing off-plan properties, and are more focussed on purchasing tangible income generating assets, and in-demand office space, said Matthew Green, Head of Research, CBRE.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nakheel to open Central Park at the Palm shortly

One of the leading master developers in Dubai, Nakheel, has announced that the Central Park, located at the heart of Palm Jumeirah, will open to residents and public shortly.

Located between Golden Mile and Shoreline Apartments, the park stretches across 1.4 kilometers, covering one million square feet in area. The infrastructure works in the park will begin during October 2011, and the park will have facilities aimed for public use.

The Nakheel Chairman, Ali Rashid Lootah, mentioned that the opening of the Central Park on the iconic Palm makes Palm Jumeirah a symbol of Dubai’s incredible growth, ambition and energy. The Central Park will soon grow to be a major attraction for residents and public visitors alike.

The Park has been designed to include a reflective of local desert landscape, an environment theme, and a unique themed recreation and leisure amenity, on par with international standards. There are also plenty of playgrounds for children, while the adults get to relax at the casual sitting, enjoying the scenic beauty of the park.

The other major attractions and features in the park are wadi, water features, pedestrian promenade, and jogging track shaded with date palm trees.  

Construction of the park will begin on October 2011.

Friday, September 16, 2011

New supplies continue to add pressure on Dubai realty market

With new supplies continuing to hit the market, the real estate sector in Dubai will continue to be under pressure, states the leading commercial real estate advisory firm, CB Richard Ellis (CBRE).

The latest CBRE report mentioned that prime locations with well-developed infrastructure and community amenities will continue to draw investors and tenants alike, and will continue to outperform other markets during the rest of the year.

The commercial office market will continue to reel under pressure, although better stability will be witnessed in the second quarter of the year. Rentals in the prime business locations including the CBD area were largely unaltered during the quarter, despite having fallen 18percent year-on-year, the report pointed out.

The CBRE report also observed that the current lease rates are applicable to office towers in the CBD, but, the lease rates at Dubai International Financial Centre are in the range Dh.110 to Dh.180 per square feet per annum, thereby reflecting lower levels than those that prevailed in 2005.

The privately owned buildings in DIFC have begun to feel the pinch of new supplies, as the rents for strata office range from Dh.160 to Dh.200 per square foot, marking 30 percent decrease in the past one year.

According to CBRE, weak outlook for global economy and the current regional unrest have led to further constraints on the capital expenditure spend, thereby delaying the decision making process for corporate occupiers.

Last month, CBRE reported that it anticipates a quite real estate market in Ajman, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah for second half of the year, with new supplies likely to increase vacancy levels in residential sector, marking further decline in rental rates.

The office market at Sharjah, Ajman and RAK will feel the pressure for rest of the year, with new office supply, existing vacant spaces, and growing competition from landlords further exacerbating lease rates.

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), leading real estate consultancy company in its report, mentioned that office rents and occupancy levels in Dubai stabilized during second quarter. However, this is only temporary, as anticipated supply deliveries will apply downward pressure in the short-term.

During 2011 alone, nearly 600,000 square meters of new space is likely to be added into the current office stock of 5.6mn square meters. Within next three years, office supply will grow by more than 30 percent, bringing about a tenant-friendly market in the coming years, JLL said.

According to JLL, in Dubai, housing prices are already 60percent off their peak levels, and they are likely to drop by another 10percent before stabilizing.

By the end of 2011, real estate market will witness an additional 18,000 homes being added up to the already oversupplied market of the emirate, thereby pushing prices further down. Nearly 2000 new homes have been completed in Dubai during second quarter, with another 18000 likely to be ready by the fourth quarter, bringing total residential stock in the current market to 32,000, said the JLL report.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Meadows villas witnessing 20 percent growth in prices

Huge demand for villas in Meadows has led to growth in prices by 15 to 20 percent since the start of this year, say real estate agents.

The data from the Dubai-based Better Homes, said that three bedroom villas are now offered for Dh.3.2mn to Dh.3.3mn, in comparison to Dh.2.5mn to Dh.2.6mn.

The four bedroom villas are now listed for Dh.3.4mn to Dh.3.5mn, in comparison to Dh.2.8mn to Dh.2.9mn. The five bedrooms are available for Dh.4.2mn to Dh.4.4mn in comparison to Dh.3.6mn to Dh.3.7mn.

The leading real estate agency, PropSquare Real Estate, mentioned that the three bedroom villas are now open for Dh.3mn instead of Dh.2.6mn. Meanwhile, the price for four bedrooms (type 14) touched Dh.4mn, up from Dh.3.5mn, while five bedrooms (type 13) in Meadows are now costing Dh.4.3mn instead of Dh.3.7mn.

As pointed out by, a nominal three to ten percent growth is noticed in villa prices.  According to agents, the prices will continue to grow based on the view, location and up-gradation of the villas.

The Manager – Residential Sales & Leasing at Better Homes, Jan Tabrizi, said that the days of distress sales have long gone from the market. Several local and global real estate consultancies have agreed in their reports about villa prices being stable during the past six months, while in established communities, a price hike has been recorded.

UAE accounts to 56percent of total project cancellations in the region

The total value of cancelled projects in the UAE touched $170bn, marking an increase of 13percent since July, according to a recent Citi report.

Nearly 56percent of total cancelled and delayed projects are in the UAE. Saudi Arabia is the largest construction market in the MENA region, with $630bn worth projects under construction, recording a dip in project pipeline of nine percent. Kuwait, however, recorded a growth of 38percent, touching $88bn, based on a re-definition of previously cancelled and delayed projects.

Qatar registered a $7bn growth in its pipeline, touching $57bn. However, the total project pipeline in the MENA market grew three percent, touching $648bn due to growth in oil and gas processing, and construction projects.

The projects on hold in the main MENA markets touched $1.69trillion, in comparison to $1.7trillion in July.

The report pointed out that nearly $5.5bn worth of projects, were awarded across MENA, which translated to a 13.5percent growth year-on-year.

Dubai among world’s worst performing realty markets

A new global property report has rated Dubai as being one of the worst performing realty markets in the world, although the rate of prices are slowing down.

The real estate market in Dubai has witnessed a 64percent decline in prices in certain location, and was recorded as the ninth worst performing markets in the world last year, said the Global House Price Index from Knight Frank. Being one of the worst performing real estate markets in the Gulf over the past three years, the rents and prices have more than halved from their peak in 2008, although residential costs have further to go, analysts said.

The survey, which included 50 biggest property markets in the world, named Ireland as the worst performing realty market, with 12.9percent decline in housing prices within a span of twelve months to June 2011. Dubai recorded a 4.7percent decline. Oversupply continued to be the major reason for fall in rentals and prices.

Another 13,000 new units are likely to hit the market by the end of this year, followed by 27,000 properties in 2012, says a Colliers report. In the month of June along, Dubai has cancelled 217 real estate projects, following review of more than 450 projects. Another 237 developments are likely to be completed in due course, it is said. However, an analysis based on first half of this year, showed that the prices have slowly improved, and grew 0.1percent between January 2011 and June 2011.

 Asia continued to be the top performing continent in terms of house price inflation, maintaining its position which it held for seven consecutive quarters, the report said. The survey also indicated that rate of decline in Dubai has begun to slow down.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rent-to-buy schemes quite popular among buyers

The rent-to-buy property schemes are proving to be one of the popular methods for buyers to enter the UAE property ladder, say analysts.

Under this scheme, the tenants get to convert the rent paid into equity towards purchase of their unit.
Aldar Properties, the leading real estate developer in Abu Dhabi, has launched a rent-to-own programme this week for its units at Raha Beach development. The tenants pay a rent for two years, wherein 100percent of first year’s rental and 90percent of second year’s rental is then converter into equity for purchase of the unit.

The tenant, therefore, has no obligation to purchase, apart from being provided with option to transfer the equity into another tenant if they decide not to buy following the two-year period.

Similarly, Sorouh Real Estate had launched its first rent-to-buy scheme in Abu Dhabi this year for its Sun Tower apartments on Reem Island, while Emaar Properties launched this scheme in November 2008 for developments in Downtown Dubai.

The idea has proved to be quite popular already, and it can be more successful, provided, the developers are clear and transparent with terms and conditions, said Priyesh Patel, real estate agent at Aston Pearl Real Estate in Dubai.

The Head of Research and Consultancy at CBRE, Matthew Green, said that although it is good to note the growth of such schemes, tenants should ensure that the rental rates and end sale prices offered by developers are realistic.

Dubai was one of the worst hit markets following the global economic turmoil, with several projects being put on hold or with prices dropping by nearly 60percent from their peak.

Therefore, developers began to consider such schemes to try and inspire confidence among the buyers and reduce the risk factor of purchasing properties within UAE market.

However, Patel cautioned that buyers should purchase such schemes directly from the developers, rather than from individual landlords.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

RAK Free Trade Zone ranked among top five best Middle East Free Zones

The Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ), one of the fastest growing free trade zones in the UAE has made an entry into the top five best overall Middle East Free Zones of the Future listing. This major industry recognition is given by the fDi Magazine and Financial Times Business.

Being in the fourth place among 115 international free zones, this award was revealed during the recent fDi Magazine Middle East Free Zone rankings for 2011-12.

RAK FTZ was also rated as the third best overall, for economic potential across the Middle East, being the second best in UAE, and the fifth best free zone in the Middle East for cost effectiveness.

Nearly 115 free zones were evaluated in the annual free zone rankings and awards across six individual categories, including best incentives, best facilities best transportation links, best economic potential, and best FDI promotion strategy and the most cost-effective free zone.

The CEO of RAK FTZ, when speaking about the top free zones across the Middle East this year, said that the recognition proves the strong credentials of RAK FTZ across various attributes including cost-effectiveness and economic potential. This gives a clear message to the global business community that RAK FTZ is the Home for Business in the Middle East.

The international panel of judges have used a range of criteria laying strong emphasis on the major incentives offered by special economic zones, apart from facilities, cost effectiveness, economic potential and transportation links.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Dubai realty market found to be stable in Q2 2011

Dubai real estate market reflected stability during second quarter 2011, with a slowdown in pace of decline of selling prices and rentals. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi, continued to record declines, owing to oversupply in the market, said a new report.

The first quarter report by Global Investment House revealed that apartment rentals in Dubai fell two percent during the first quarter, while villa rentals remained stable without any significant decline than the mere percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. 

The Downtown Dubai apartments, recorded maximum declines with eight percent fall quarter-on-quarter, while Dubai International Financial Centre recorded seven percent decline owing to new supply.

In Abu Dhabi, the sale of villas and apartments fell at a fast pace, owing to negative impact of surplus deliveries. While the apartment rents during the first quarter fell by eight percent, villa rents saw only a modest decline on certain “ready to move in” properties, Global said.

During the month of March, Rasmala Investments had already predicted that house prices in the UAE may fall by 25 to 30 percent, with stagnation in population growth, as more properties are being constructed. Further, according to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the housing prices in Dubai will fall further, when another 54,000 homes will enter the market by 2014.

According to a senior official at the Dubai Land Department, Dubai is unlikely to get more than 10,000 new units, including residential and commercial this year. 

As for office rents in Dubai, it fell six percent over the previous quarter, with Dubai Investment Park registering a decline of 15percent, while in Jumeirah Lakes Towers it dropped by 12percent. 

In the Capital, however, office rents dropped by only four percent, following nine percent decline in the first quarter. However, the Grade B and C offices continue to underperform, as tenants begin upgrading to better office space at affordable rates. 

The Head of Research at JLL, Craig Plumb, mentioned that future office supply in Dubai will be about 1.8mn square meters, roughly 30percent less than expected between 2011 and 2013. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi will get an additional office supply of 1.2mn square meter by the end of 2012.