Dubai has not experienced a slowdown in economic growth

Dubai is all set to break all previous records in terms of the total value of transactions in a year. What are the major reasons for this exceptional growth, according to you?

There are several key factors that drive Dubai’s remarkable growth, and its potential to surpass records in real estate transaction value. Dubai’s lifestyle and favourable tax status continues to attract expats and ultra-high-net-worth individuals from all over the world, driving population growth. According to the Dubai Statistics Centre, Dubai’s population reached 3.6 million in July this year with almost 100,000 people having moved to the city over the past 12 months. With the population set to increase to 7.8 million as part of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan this growth is set to continue, providing significant opportunity for the real estate sector in coming years.

At the same time, more jobs become available as more companies are relocating or choosing to set up offices in the UAE because of the ease of doing business, the favourable regulatory environment, and the strategic geographical positioning as a business hub connecting East and West, amongst others.Government policy reforms including the introduction of the golden visa and freelance visas for residents, social reforms, and the  supportive ecosystem for startups, are making it easier for expats to make Dubai their long-term home.

In addition, the city’s sophisticated infrastructure including exceptional airports and ports, further facilitates business activities and attracts international businesses. Furthermore, Dubai’s commitment to sustainable development and green initiatives attracts investors who increasingly prioritise environmentally responsible projects. Dubai has demonstrated resilience in the face of challenges and has a strong track record in adapting to changing global economic conditions. This ability to navigate uncertainties contributes to continued investor confidence. All the above-mentioned factors are key to the exceptional growth Dubai has witnessed and have a very direct effect on the Dubai real estate market. The destination is maturing and flourishing across different sectors from tourism, sports, and entertainment to being a global hub for business and investment. Let’s not forget either, that real estate in Dubai is still undervalued when compared to peer cities such as Paris, London, New York and Singapore. Ongoing and upcoming real estate projects in Dubai continue to international investors with its iconic structures and urban masterplans.


The year 2022 was great, and 2023 so far has been nothing but magical. What’s your prediction for 2024? How will the Dubai real estate market fare?

Like many prime urban real estate markets around the world, Dubai has benefitted from a strong economic rebound post-pandemic. Dubai’s exemplary response to Covid-19 and its willingness to open up relatively early while maintaining key public health measures, made the city very attractive to expats from around the world. In addition, unlike many other parts of the world, Dubai has not experienced a slowdown in economic growth. In fact, Dubai’s economy grew 3.2% in the first half of 2023. High oil prices are supporting government infrastructure spend across the region, with high investment multiplier effects. As a hub for the region, this is only good news for Dubai.

Despite significant increases in both capital and rental values, Dubai still experiences a very low vacancy rate. Commercial real estate agency CBRE recently commented that in the commercial real estate segment there is a market average of less than 10%, with single digit vacancy reported in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). In order to achieve market stability – notwithstanding ongoing construction- additional supply is needed. The key will be the timing of construction and delivery across all market pricing segments.

Global economic trends, geopolitical events, and shifts in investor sentiment could affect Dubai’s real estate market, with changes in global economic conditions having the ability to influence foreign direct investment, and the demand for property.

Market dynamics are also a contributing factor to the outlook for the real estate sector in Dubai. Elements such as supply and demand, property inventory, and market competition will continue to influence real estate prices and investment opportunities. It is important to continue to monitor market dynamics to gauge potential trends.

Dubai and the wider Gulf region will continue to be a beacon of growth and stability in 2024, and in this context we are expecting another great year for the Dubai real estate sector.

What are the next steps your company is planning to take in 2024 to propel growth?

Given Dubai’s continued attractiveness to both private and institutional capital, we believe the strong opportunity for regulated private equity real estate vehicles to provide access to real estate returns in a robust environment, remains.

We work closely with strategic partners and investors to formulate income and sales-based investment funds for build-to-rent in the multi-family housing sector and the longer income space. With strong growth across the region, we also focus on locations outside of Dubai including opportunities in Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and elsewhere in the MENA region.  GCC capital has always had a strong relationship with the UK and Europe. With changing dynamics in these markets, we are expanding our global business to support our offices in London, Toronto and (shortly) Beijing, to continue to be a conduit for capital looking to invest from the region globally. 

Emphasising quality growth, our aim is to establish ourselves as a sustainable platform for trust and confidence for those acquiring and investing in real estate. Despite our relatively recent presence in the market, we have achieved significant milestones and remain committed to leveraging our success as a foundation for continued growth. Our focus is on fostering enduring relationships built on trust, and delivering excellence in the real estate acquisition and investment landscape. Our evolution into a highly efficient sales and marketing platform has positioned us as a trusted partner for developers venturing into the market. Over the past year, we have successfully collaborated with numerous new developers, and with the support of our institutional team, we offer comprehensive assistance from financial feasibility assessments to project exit strategies. Our commitment is to provide developers with a seamless and reliable partnership throughout the entire project lifecycle. As part of our strategic growth plan, we are expanding our institutional team, while concurrently, launching our distinctive real estate funds. This expansion aims to build upon our existing strengths and expertise, enhance our client service, and ensure the successful execution of our innovative investment strategies. 


Dubai garden villa sells for a record Dh67 million

Six-bedroom, 10,000 square-foot mansion at Palm Jumeirah sold to British national

Dubai luxury property sector witnessed another high-value deal.

An exceptionally well designed garden home villa at Palm Jumeirah sold for a record-breaking price of Dh67 million in a single sitting to a British high net worth individual.

This makes the DHB villa the most expensive garden home villa sold on the palm.

The six-bed room property comprising of 10,000 square foot is designed by one of the top architects in the region, Naga Architects and built by DHB Properties. The Japanese inspired Zen Garden, Koi fish pond at the heart of the luxury property, a pool at the ground level as well as a lap pool at the top level adjoining the master bedroom are some of the key features of the new property located at Palm Jumeirah’s Frond G, which is now considered billionaire’s row of the Middle East.

“A play on glass and water creates a movement of lights and shadows as day moves into night. Floor-to-ceiling glass infrastructure ensures that all spaces are flooded in natural light with views of the sea from almost every part of the house,” said Riad Gohar, partner at BlackOak Real Estate.

Record breaking garden villa

BlackOak is a new generation of real estate agency taking on the traditional larger players, with an exceptional business model and leadership. It has created a very professional institutional type retail brokerage platform by investing in a team of high-calibre agents trained in real estate sales, investments, finance and markets.

“BlackOak was proud to work with DHB and Naga Architects to list such a spectacular villa on the palm. The attention to detail and the passion of the architect is truly visible when walking through the villa,” said Imran Sheikh, founder and CEO of BlackOak Real Estate.

Sheikh attributes the credit of selling one of the most expensive and record breaking garden villa to his partner Riad Gohar who clinched the deal in a single viewing with the British buyer.

“Riad is a leader in the real estate industry with 18+ years of entrepreneurial experience, and takes a special focus on the luxury sector where he has transacted over $1 billion worth of properties,” Sheikh said.

Targeting niche market

Gohar said the villa has been developed by DHB Properties, a developer focused on the niche market of luxury living and innovative living experiences. The designs are by Naga Architects spearheaded by Dr Shams Naga.

“The villa is unique both in terms of the style and the quality it has been built to. The buyer was looking for a villa for a few months at a lower price point, but when he saw the DHB villa, he immediately confirmed the villa as there was nothing comparable in the market,” he said.

“Some of the finest brands from Europe, USA and further afield have been sourced to furnish and equip the villa, all hand selected by the designer Naga architects,” he said.

“The Dubai luxury property market has generated a significant interest and activity this year. There have been record breaking transactions in terms of value and price per square foot,” Gohar said.

Lack of high-end luxury products

With the migration of HNWI and UNWI’s to the UAE, Sheikh said the luxury market has plenty of steam as there is a lack of high-end luxury products.

“Areas such as Palm Jumeriah, Dubai Hills, District 1, etc are seeing great demand for villas whereas Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah and Downtown/Business Bay for apartments,” he said.

Sheikh, a veteran of the real estate industry in the UAE for the last 15 years, is working with large family offices and institutions and has transacted more than $2.5 billion worth of real estate.

In reply to a question, he said prime properties in Dubai have bright prospects and it will continue to attract millionaires, high net worth individuals and investors.


Dubai: Luxury property set to double its market share in 2022

High net worth individuals, millionaires and entrepreneurs will drive growth in luxury property market

 Dubai’s luxury property market will continue to rise in the second half of the year as limited stock of prime and ultra-prime residential units are unable to cater to the rising demand from both end-users and foreign buyers, experts say.
Industry specialists, analysts and market experts said the demand for prime and ultra-prime properties in Dubai is on the rise since the beginning of the year as high net worth individuals (HNWIs), millionaires and entrepreneurs looking to relocate or buy a secondary home in Dubai.
Referring to the recent report, they said 4,000 HNWIs are expected to relocate to the UAE this year as the country demonstrated its ability in managing the Covid-19 pandemic, successfully hosting Expo 2020 Dubai, offering excellent connectivity and 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies and introducing range of visa reforms.
They further said the Russia-Ukraine conflict is also drawing liquidity and investments into Dubai from the affected regions.
Luxury a resilient segment
Prathyusha Gurrapu, head of Research and Advisory at real estate consultancy Core, said the prime and ultra-prime residential market has been relatively resilient compared to the affordable and mid-market segment during 2014-2020.
“We have observed a marked increase in demand for prime residential properties since fourth quarter of 2020. In fact, 2021 saw the highest secondary market transactions above Dh10 million in the last decade, with Palm Jumeirah accounting for nearly 35 per cent of these transactions,” Gurrapu said.
“This trend of robust demand for prime residential continues in the first quarter of 2022, with prime transaction volumes above Dh10 million being 140.2 per cent higher than the same quarter of 2021,” she said.

Elaborating, she said about 483 deals above Dh10 million were signed during the January-March quarter this year compared to 201 in the same quarter last year.
“Villa transactions exceeded apartments as 305 villas and 178 apartments were sold in first quarter of 2022 compared to 150 villas and 51 apartments in the same quarter last year as the demand for the luxury market is stemming from both end-users and overseas investors,” Gurrapu told
Khaleej Times
While prime residential prices are well near 2014 prices, many buyers are largely agnostic to historical pricing and find Dubai prime waterfront property to be competitively priced compared to most global cities, according to Core’sfirst-quarter report.
Tight supply for luxury properties
With very high transaction volumes compared to previous years and the ready stock in this segment taken up by HNWIs, the lack of inventory in the secondary market has pushed more interest toward the prime off-plan market. Recent launches in the high-end market are reflecting this trend and have seen strong absorption, it added.
The report further said the prime market is witnessing a record number of transactions, it still forms a small fraction of the overall Dubai market — a similar scenario seen in most global housing markets. However, experts said the luxury property market is expected to double its share this year due to an influx of investors showing interest in the segment.
“To give perspective, transactions above Dh10 million formed only 3.3 per cent of all the secondary market transactions and 1.4 per cent of all the off-plan market transactions over Q1 2022,” according to a Core report.
Luxury has a bright future
Imran Sheikh, founder and CEO of BlackOak Real Estate, said prime and ultra-prime property hold bright futures due to rising demand from foreign buyers.
“We see strong demand and the trend to continue as more high profile and HNWIs move to the region. As the supply of good quality, well-designed, modern state-of-the-art properties is limited, the demand will outstrip the supply in the short term,” Sheikh said.
H2 to see more deals
Ata Shobeiry, chief executive, of Zoom Property, said the significant figures produced by the luxury property sector in 2021 and the first half of 2022 have garnered the interest of investors, which will play a key role in the growth of this market in the second half.
“With more developments featuring high-end properties backed by ultra-modern amenities, we can expect the second half of the year to produce even better figures,” Shobeiry told .
In reply to a question, he said the luxury property sector has been attracting investors and HNWIs equally. However, with reformed visa rules set to be implemented in September 2022, “we will see more overseas investors” venturing into the market.
“As luxury properties are dominating the real estate sector, they will attempt to leverage the situation. This will play a positive role in sustaining the demand for luxury properties while benefiting the overall property market,” he said.

Impact of covid-19 on UAE and KSA Real Estate

  • Demand for villas increased in the UAE because of the pandemic outbreak and also due to low-interest rates.
  • The real estate sector contributed 14.2 percent of the Saudi GDP ranking third as the most contributing economic activity.


For a moment, the Covid-19 pandemic appeared to have posed a challenge to the tenacity of the growing real estate market in the Middle East as people started to work from home. But the markets have weathered the storm, by and large.

Cities in the Middle East are overgrowing, with Dubai and Riyadh ranking among the top 20 cities in JLL 2020 Momentum City Index, a global commercial real estate services company that ranks the world’s most dynamic cities in terms of real estate. The growth, experts say, will continue.

UAE real estate’s tenacity

The UAE has seen a record amount of real estate sales in the first six months of 2021, with transactions worth about $20bn, a 40 percent raise over the previous year.

Most of the real estate activity in the UAE was focused on well-established and new villas, with increased demand following the spread of the pandemic to a larger area, as well as lower interest rates in the current market.

The VPI residential capital values increased in Q1 2021. According to a Value Strat price index, Middle East’s leading consulting group, residential capital values increased by 3.8 percent sequentially.

villas led the way with a 7 percent quarterly increase and a 6.3 percent year-over-year gain. In addition, villa rents grew by 9.5 percent quarterly, while apartment rents increased by 4.6 percent.

Changing investment landscape

Imran Sheikh, a real estate expert, confirmed to TRENDSMENA confirmed the rise in villa sales in Dubai, pointing out that COVID-19 has changed the pattern of real estate of interest to buyers, as large villas with private gardens have become incredibly more desirable after the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. He also said that most of the new villa projects in Dubai were being sold before the projects were completed and that sales transactions grew by more than 40 percent and property prices alone have increased by about 10 percent in Dubai over the last year, with specific communities seeing much higher increases.

Regarding international buyers, Imran noted that they were impressed by how the UAE dealt with the outbreak, which gave greater confidence to them to invest in real estate in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Imran also stated that there needs to be an increase in the standard and quality of service brokers are providing especially to international buyers.

A leading business Hub

  • Imran said the UAE’s real estate market developed due to the government’s proactive approach in managing the pandemic,
    favorable rules and regulations, ease of doing business, adequate legal framework and higher quality better-designed products.

Realignment of prices

ICD Brookfield’s expansion of 900,000 sq ft of office space is expected to increase competition in the Dubai office real estate market, with downward pressure on rents. In addition, Imran states that the fact that Dubai attracts families, location will be very important as we are more likely to see a continued increase in the demand for units with proximity to good schools as well as beachfront properties.

On the other hand, “Expo Dubai 2020” will be a perfect opportunity for real estate developers to introduce attractive investment opportunities in the real estate sector in Dubai and the entire Emirates, following the government’s successful marketing of the World Expo Organization, which ensures a significant presence of foreigners during the six months of the exhibition.

Improvements for future

Imran added that the UAE’s real estate market is improving and could become more attractive by lowering and regulating fees, improving the quality of newly built properties to attract foreign investors, and limiting market supply.

Investors contributed more than $44.37bn into the purchase and financing of various real estate between housing, buildings, and lands located in multiple regions of Dubai since the beginning of 2021, allowing the market to continue recording historical trading volumes never seen before.

In addition, the amount of money invested during that period was higher than its equivalents in the previous five years, with a 68 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020.

Saudi real estate market

Saudi Arabia has a different demographic structure than other countries. Unlike the Emirates, there is a shortage of housing units in Saudi Arabia.

The real estate sector contributed around $14.18bn, or 14.2 percent of GDP, in Q4 2020, ranking third as the most contributing economic activity to GDP.

The real estate market ended the first seven months of the current year with a 28.6 percent growth, bringing the total value of market deals to $32.69bn, compared to around $25.41bn for the same period the previous year.

During the same period, the value of residential sector transactions increased by 13 percent year on year. The considerable increase in the total value of local real estate market deals is due to the return of economic activities compared to the same period last year when several measures were undertaken to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

The National Housing Company, Saudi Arabia’s investment and enabling arm for housing supply, revealed plans to participate in Saudi’s real estate sector development to achieve “Vision 2030” until 2025.

The plan includes:

  • Increasing the supply of various housing units and working to improve the contribution to the GDP.
  • Strengthening partnerships with the private sector, particularly real estate developers.
  • Stimulating the real estate sector to provide more job opportunities for Saudi youth.

The company has developed a unique plan for each project within its strategy, which aims to maximize the role of the real estate sector in the national economy, as it seeks to increase real estate supply by more than 300,000 units and contribute to an increase in GDP of more than $48bn by 2025.


The stars are aligning for the UAE real estate market

Investing in real estate is never an exact science. But the practice can be honed through hundreds of hours of immersion in not just the real estate and property markets, but in the financial, political, and economic outlooks globally and locally.

Imran Sheikh is a leading real estate expert.

Real estate investors will often say they follow their instincts, and right now, instincts are pointing to the UAE real estate market – especially Dubai’s.

Investing in real estate is never an exact science. Some successful investors will tell you that it is largely down to instinct, but what they won’t tell you is that that instinct is honed through hundreds of hours of immersion in not just the real estate and property markets, but in the financial, political and economic outlooks globally and locally.

In a globalized world, it is pointless to only look at factors linked to the country you are interested in. One location’s success or attractiveness to investors will always be relative to other locations it is competing with. A real estate investor needs to have an in-depth knowledge of the sector and macroeconomic factors, which are constantly changing. Only then, will their “instinct” tell them whether or not now is a good time to invest.


Investors who struck gold in cryptocurrency are investing in UAE real estate

It may never be an exact science, but by considering different variables investors can determine with a certain amount of confidence what countries, cities, or even specific areas are likely to yield the best results.

And most, if not all of those very same factors are pointing towards the fact that the UAE, and Dubai in particular, are currently sitting in a sweet spot of investment potential.

Level playing field

The real estate industry is a competition. Not just between individual projects as they race to get investors on board, but between cities, countries, and regions. At the risk of simplifying global economics to a couple of sentences, if you were to plot the economic development (and hence the attractiveness for investment) of a nation over time (usually the GDP), then in almost all cases it would demonstrate a wave pattern.

It is every investor’s intention to invest in the real estate sector at the bottom of one of these waves, or more appropriately at the trough of the market cycle – or at least at the point where in theory the market should start to recover and continue its trajectory upwards.

As you can imagine, each country’s market cycle is at a different stage of growth or decline, making it not just a case of investors looking at individual countries, but also comparing them to see which is likely to rise most steeply in the foreseeable future.

The pandemic has had the almost unprecedented effect of resetting practically every country on the planet back to an equilibrium. How they improve or continue to decline from here will obviously differ, but the UAE provides an impressive and opportunistic baseline due to its real estate infrastructure that will surely help the sector thrive after the pandemic is over and economic activities resume.

We can possibly draw parallels to what happened to Dubai post global financial crisis in 2008. The pre-recession investment that went into developing great projects coupled with the healthy economic growth and lifestyle quality provided helped Dubai leap forward and become more attractive to international investors. The same is happening now; the way in which the UAE has handled the pandemic combined with its real estate quality, lifestyle, education and healthcare will place it at the forefront of many economies in the region and globally when it comes to location attractiveness. We have recently seen many international investors relocating their families to the UAE exactly because of these advantages.

The rest of the world

It is too soon to say with any certainty which countries’ economies will recover the quickest and which will fall behind, but there are aspects that we can look to that will have an effect on the real estate markets in the longer term. The shift in working patterns towards home and remote working experienced during lockdowns in the UK, Europe and the US is very likely to be something that continues not just in the short to mid-term, but possibly in the long-term. This will have an undetermined effect on office space in the major cities, but also in all property in those cities as people are no longer tied to a commutable distance to their office for a home. Regardless of anything else, this creates uncertainty, and if there is one thing that the markets and investors do not like, it is uncertainty.

Arab buyers set to snap up London ‘super-prime’ homes when travel ban lifts

And of course, there are dual issues in Europe with regards to the EU’s poorly managed vaccine rollout and the uncertainty around Brexit.

Why Dubai

The resetting of the global economies and the problems facing many of the countries globally put the UAE is in such a strong position for attracting interest from investors both domestic and international.

The UAE’s economy is predicted to bounce back relatively quickly, with the IMF forecasting a 3.1 percent GDP growth, and crucially that growth is expected to continue. Q1 has already seen healthy growth in the UAE real estate market, with a marked move from a market that was almost entirely domestically driven over the past few years, to one that is attracting more and more foreign and institutional capital. The economy is further supported by a revitalized growth in the UAE and Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade in 2020 which touched $321 billion.

There are several reasons for that growth. Firstly, the UAE is seen as a safe haven financially, especially for those from many of the other MENA nations, as well as Africa and parts of Asia, where once again uncertainty and even instability will make investors look for alternative options.

Once an investor knows their money is safe, the next consideration is the yield and how secure that yield will ultimately be. Everything else being equal, it is the projected yield that will be the decisive factor. Here, the UAE is very strong, offering more than 7 percent gross rental returns on average, and many real estate projects producing between 6-12 percent unlevered net yields. In a world with historically low-interest rates, and an insatiable desire for yield, the UAE stands out like a shining beacon.

Dubai was recognized in JLL’s Global Real Estate Transparency Index as one of the “global top improvers” due to more than just the yield. This score was boosted by government initiatives to improve corporate and real estate sustainability. The government has been proactive with its business-focused initiatives (low taxation, free zones, ease of registration to name just three) and its robust regulatory procedures.

Finally, let’s not forget that Dubai is one of the most sought-after places to work and live. Once again, the government has helped with its introduction of new visa categories to attract more professionals, investors and families. Further, the weather, architecture, culture and lifestyle are all substantial draws for people from Europe and the US. Its strategic location makes it a lot more attractive than Singapore for example, where the distances involved are a hindrance for people wanting a second or holiday home. Those of us who have lived, worked and invested in the UAE for years have known this all along, the rest of the world finally seems to have caught on.

Imran Sheikh is a leading real estate expert.

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