Dubai developers target UK investors amid Brexit volatility

A remote property management system announced by the Dubai government is expected to reassure overseas investors. The Mashrooi system includes a dedicated judicial authority to regulate the emirate’s property sector. (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 November 2018
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Dubai developers target UK investors amid Brexit volatility

  • Some Dubai developers, which have experienced their own property slowdown over the last four years, see UK property weakness and sterling volatility as a potential sales opportunity
  • House prices across the UK are rising at the slowest annual pace since 2013

LONDON: Dubai developers are targeting UK investors as Brexit shakes confidence in British bricks and mortar.

The Dubai Property Show (DPS) kicked off on Friday at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre amid a Brexit-fueled political storm and attempts to unseat Prime Minister Theresa May by politicians from her own party.

House prices across the UK are rising at the slowest annual pace since 2013 according to data from Nationwide published earlier this month, with fresh concerns emerging over what a no-deal Brexit would mean for UK property values.

Some Dubai developers, which have experienced their own property slowdown over the last four years, see UK property weakness and sterling volatility as a potential sales opportunity.

Samir Jalali was among the visitors to the London event, looking for potential investments for a client, one of the world’s largest rice dealers.

They were interested in “signature” properties, he said, adding: “Dubai is still one of those desirable destinations. This is a good time and opportunity to acquire property for a year or two.”

At the Hera Tower stand, business was brisk.

“Lots of inquiries, but no, nobody has bought yet,” said one of the young women buttonholing the passers-by. 

The development overlooking the canal near Dubai Sports City is three-quarters built and is due to be completed in June. Prices vary from £78,892 ($101,193) for a studio to £155,523 for a two-bedroom apartment, and the company claims to guarantee returns of at least 6 percent on rental.

The British are regularly among the top three investor groups from outside the Middle East. 

Aqil Kazim, chief commercial officer of Nakheel, the developer behind Dubai’s famous Palm Islands, said the company had 2,530 British investors who have spent £1.3 billion on property.

“The momentum is still there for innovative projects like ours. With currency shifts against the dollar, Dubai can be a positive alternative, a reliable place to invest.”

That optimism is reinforced by the Dubai government’s announcement of Mashrooi — a remote property management system, complete with its own dedicated judicial authority to regulate the property sector, aimed at reassuring overseas investors. 

The move should make foreigners more confident about buying property in Dubai, said Kazim.

“It means owners from overseas don’t even have to be in Dubai to manage their property. Tenancy disputes will be dealt with within a dedicated judicial and legal system instead of taking forever through the ordinary courts,” said Kazim. “It makes the rental property sector very transparent. Nakheel certainly welcomes it as being of benefit.”

The introduction of Mashrooi was announced in the emirate last week. Tala Khalifa Al-Suwaidi, of the Dubai Land Department, said Mashrooi was due to come into operation in the first quarter of next year. 

“It is all absolutely secure legally because this comes from the government of Dubai, ” he told Arab News. “Everything any investor wants to know about buying and managing property in Dubai, he can find out through Mashrooi, which means the information will be coming from the government of Dubai.”

Nakheel currently has £12 billion worth of property for sale, ranging from high-end luxury homes to “stylish, functional” accommodation for lower budgets.

Apartments in the 52-story Palm Tower (with an infinity pool on the 50th floor and views over the whole Palm complex) start at £345,000 for a studio. The tower is due to be completed in late 2019.

Nick Sajid, director of Invest Property, was also shopping for clients at the DPS and making contacts.

“Dubai is a global destination. It has the panache that London had until values got too high,” he said. The property market had also “matured” a great deal in the past 15 years.

“It used to be that everything was in the hands of just a couple of names. It was oligopolistic. Now there is balance in competition and the prices have been corrected. It is a safe bet,” he said.


Mideast plays key role in Chinese export of armed drones, report says

Updated 17 December 2018
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Mideast plays key role in Chinese export of armed drones, report says

  • China has exploited America’s selective drone export policy to become an increasingly influential player in meeting demand
  • The report is entitled “Armed Drones in the Middle East: Proliferation and Norms in the Region”

BEIRUT: The use of armed drones in the Middle East, driven largely by sales from China, has grown significantly in the past few years with an increasing number of countries and other parties using them in regional conflicts to lethal effects, a new report said Monday.
The report by the Royal United Services Institute, or RUSI, found that more and more Mideast countries have acquired armed drones, either by importing them, such as Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, or by building them domestically like Israel, Iran and Turkey.
China has won sales in the Middle East and elsewhere by offering drones — otherwise known as UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles — at lower prices and without the political conditions attached by the United States.
The report , entitled “Armed Drones in the Middle East: Proliferation and Norms in the Region,” said that by capitalizing on the gap in the market over the past few years, Beijing has supplied armed drones to several countries that are not authorized to purchase them from the US, and at a dramatically cheaper price.
“China, a no-questions-asked exporter of drones, has played and is likely to continue playing a key role as a supplier of armed UAVs to the Middle East,” it said.
The report explored where and how each of the states have used their armed drones and whether they have changed the way these countries approach air power. It found that Iran, the UAE and Turkey all changed the way they employ airpower after they acquired armed drones.
For Turkey and the UAE, armed drones enabled them to conduct strikes in situations where they would not have risked using conventional aircraft, it said. Iran developed armed drones from the outset specifically to enable to project power beyond the reach of its air force, which is hamstrung by obsolete aircraft and sanctions, the report added.
The report said it remains to be seen whether and how the loosening of restrictions on the exportation of armed drones by the Trump administration will alter dynamics in the region.
“Nonetheless, proliferation in armed UAVs in the Middle East is unlikely to stop and could, in fact, even accelerate,” the report said.