Dubai property booms as wealthy buyers escape lockdowns

Dubai property booms as wealthy buyers escape lockdowns
Luxury villas are the hottest segment in the market, with European buyers in particular seeking homes on Dubai’s signature Palm Jumeirah man-made island, as well as golf course estates. (AFP)
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Updated 30 May 2021

Dubai property booms as wealthy buyers escape lockdowns

Dubai property booms as wealthy buyers escape lockdowns
  • The Gulf emirate became one of the first destinations to reopen to visitors last July, pairing the open-door policy with strict rules on masking and social distancing
  • The flood of arrivals has regenerated the tourism industry

DUBAI: Dubai’s property market is powering out of a six-year malaise as “lockdown dodgers” and wealthy international investors drive a buying frenzy that is breaking records and fueling an economic recovery.
Luxury villas are the hottest segment in the market, with European buyers in particular seeking homes on Dubai’s signature Palm Jumeirah man-made island, as well as golf course estates.
Dubai’s rollercoaster property market, which had been in steady decline since 2014, went into flatline after Covid-19 hit last year and the emirate slammed shut its borders, said Zhann Zochinke, chief operating officer of consultancy Property Monitor.
“Then straight after that lockdown period we started to see transaction volumes increase, and they really haven’t stopped since,” he told AFP.
“We’re now seeing record month-on-month gains and transaction volumes.”
The Gulf emirate became one of the first destinations to reopen to visitors last July, pairing the open-door policy with strict rules on masking and social distancing, and an energetic vaccination program which has produced some of the highest inoculation rates globally.
Despite a surge in coronavirus cases in the new year after holidaymakers descended en masse, life has continued largely as normal with restaurants and hotels open, and few of the restrictions that have blighted life elsewhere.
“The lockdown dodgers from other countries? I think we’re seeing a lot of that there,” Zochinke said, adding that other draws were more relaxed residency rules and a decision to allow full foreign ownership of firms.

The flood of arrivals has regenerated the tourism industry, long an economic mainstay of Dubai which has little of the oil wealth that powers its neighbors, and helped business activity recover to pre-Covid levels in April, according to IHS Markit.
“Travel and tourism firms recorded the most notable bounce in performance, amid increasing hopes of a rise in tourism activity later in the year, boosted by the rapid vaccine roll-out,” said the research firm’s economist David Owen.
After years of torpor when homeowners watched their equity drain away, the surge in luxury properties above 10 million dirhams ($2.7 million) has been striking, with 90 transactions in April compared to around 350-400 on a regular yearly basis, according to Property Monitor.
A mansion on the Palm has sold for 111.25 million dirhams, the highest price reached in years in the precinct which features 16 “fronds” lined with show-stopping houses and supercars parked in the driveways.
The highest-priced property now available on the block is a vast Italian-inspired modern villa positioned at the end of one of the fronds, complete with 180 degree beach frontage, which is being offered for 100 million dirhams.
After it languished on the market during the gloomy days at the height of the pandemic, the developers are hoping that one of the new breed of cashed-up Europeans will be tempted by the infinity pool, private cinema, and acres of marble and glass.
“I think people have started to realize that Dubai is not just a construction site anymore, which it was maybe 10 years ago when we had the most amount of cranes in the world,” said Matthew Bate, CEO of BlackBrick, one of the agencies representing the property.

“People are now looking at Dubai and saying — I’m going to make this my primary home. I can work from Dubai and still manage business in Europe or North America or Asia,” he said.
“So I think what Covid ultimately did, it opened the doors for us to the rest of the world.”
In a market where many fortunes have been made and lost, there is nervousness about whether the recent giddy rises can be sustained.
Sales of properties above 10 million dirhams rose 6.7 percent in April compared to the previous month, and 81 villas were sold on the Palm in April alone compared to 54 in all of 2020, according to Property Monitor.
Even with the remarkable gains, the market is still off its highs of 2014, and the apartment market is trailing far behind.
The financial services firm Morgan Stanley, however, said in a recent report that the rally isn’t likely to stop soon.
“Robust demand, peaking supply growth and long lead times for new projects could lead to a tighter-than-expected market over the next several years,” it said.
It credited “a wave of government reforms over the past 12 months, attractive mortgage rates, and a shift in demand patterns due to Covid-19.”


UK hosting Africa investment summit for green transition

UK hosting Africa investment summit for green transition
Updated 20 January 2022

UK hosting Africa investment summit for green transition

UK hosting Africa investment summit for green transition
  • The conference aims to unlock millions of pounds of new investment, especially in clean energy industries in the UK and Africa
  • Britain will launch a digital tool to link African and British businesses to the UK government

LONDON: The UK is hosting an investment conference on Thursday to boost sustainable economic cooperation with African countries and to support the continent’s transition to clean growth.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will open the one-day event, which will be attended by UK and African ministers, business leaders and and heads of international organizations.
The conference, in its second edition, aims to unlock millions of pounds of new investment, especially in clean energy industries in the UK and Africa.
“Two years on from the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit, the UK’s ambition to be Africa’s investment partner of choice has never been stronger,” said Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
“This year’s conference focuses on the importance of resilient, sustainable investment to support Africa as it pivots toward a more environmentally friendly growth trajectory, and I look forward to working with leaders from the continent as they continue on this path to a greener future,” she added.
During the conference, the UK will launch a new Growth Gateway — a digital tool to link African and British businesses to UK government trade, finance, investment services and opportunities.
UK Export Finance — Britain’s export credit agency — has significantly increased support for markets in Africa in the past year from about £600 million ($817 million) in 2018-19 to more than £2.3 billion in 2020-21, supporting a range of infrastructure projects in countries from Cote d’Ivoire to Uganda, the Department for International Trade said.
Minister for Africa Vicky Ford said that the UK is “deepening its economic ties with African nations” and “there is a lot more that can be done,” adding: “Growth Gateway will make it easier than ever for African and British businesses to access the support they need to boost two-way trade and investment.”
This year’s conference also comes after Britain hosted the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26. The country is looking to build on its commitment to providing £11.6 billion of its International Climate Finance program to help developing countries tackle climate change over the next five years.
Last year’s virtual conference was attended by more than 2,800 delegates from over 40 African countries. Across the UK, 27 trade and investment deals worth £6.5 billion were announced, on top of further commitments worth £8.9 billion.


Turkey Dream Games triples in valuation after raising $255m in funding

Turkey Dream Games triples in valuation after raising $255m in funding
Updated 19 January 2022

Turkey Dream Games triples in valuation after raising $255m in funding

Turkey Dream Games triples in valuation after raising $255m in funding
  • Turkish mobile gaming start-up Dream Games raised an unprecedented $255 million in its latest Series C funding round

RIYADH: Turkish mobile gaming start-up Dream Games raised an unprecedented $255 million in its latest Series C funding round, almost tripling its valuation to $2.75 billion in six months, MAGNiTT reported.

This round of funding was led by Index Ventures, subscribed by returning investors such as Makers Fund, IVP, Kora, Balderton Capital and managed by BlackRock.

The company plans to use the funds for doubling its headcount to 200 people and launch a new game this year.

Founded in 2019, Istanbul-based Dream Games is a mobile gaming company that developed Royal Match — one of the highest grossing mobile games.


UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar top competitive economies in the Arab World: AMF

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar top competitive economies in the Arab World: AMF
Updated 19 January 2022

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar top competitive economies in the Arab World: AMF

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar top competitive economies in the Arab World: AMF
  • The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar were ranked the most competitive Arab economies

RIYADH: The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar were ranked the most competitive Arab economies for the period between 2017 until 2020, according to a report launched by the Arab Monetary Fund.

The fifth Arab economies competitiveness report showed that the UAE maintained its top ranking in the general index as it benefited from high scores in the business environment and infrastructure category as well as the organizational and government governance category.

The Kingdom ranked second after having performed well in the overall economic index, the external activities sector and the official reserves index.

Qatar followed in third place, after attaining first place in the real economy sector, the inflation index and GDP per capita index.

Four Arab nations advanced in terms of competitiveness compared to the previous period, including Sudan, Egypt, Morocco, and Mauritania.

Arab states and other non-Arab countries — such as Singapore, Malaysia, Turkey — are included also in the calculation of the index.

The report monitors the economic competitiveness of Arab countries and sheds light on the economic and political measures applied by decision makers for that purpose.


TRSDC closes financing for $3.76bn loan from four Saudi banks

TRSDC closes financing for $3.76bn loan from four Saudi banks
Updated 19 January 2022

TRSDC closes financing for $3.76bn loan from four Saudi banks

TRSDC closes financing for $3.76bn loan from four Saudi banks

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's The Red Sea Development Co., or TRSDC, announced the financial closure of a SR14.12 billion ($3.76 billion) loan with four Saudi banks.

The financing will be in a form of a term loan facility and a revolving credit facility.

TRSDC, which is developing the world's largest sustainable tourism project, has obtained the loan from Saudi National Bank, Riyad Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi, and Saudi British Bank, according to a statement.

“This year, we have proceeded at pace with the delivery of our flagship project, all the while mindful of our commitment to not only reduce our impact on the environment but actively deliver a 30 percent net conservation benefit by 2040,” explained John Pagano, chief executive officer of The Red Sea Development Company.

GFC Media Group have recently awarded TRSDC’s Green Financing as Project Finance Deal of Year in the Capital Markets Saudi Arabia Awards.


Egypt achieves a $204m initial budget surplus in six months 

Egypt achieves a $204m initial budget surplus in six months 
Updated 19 January 2022

Egypt achieves a $204m initial budget surplus in six months 

Egypt achieves a $204m initial budget surplus in six months 

RIYADH: Egypt’s general budget achieved an initial surplus of 3.2 billion Egyptian pounds ($204 million) during the first six months of the 2021/22 fiscal year, the minister of finance said. 

Mohamed Maait added that revenues grew by 10.3 percent on an annual basis during that period, while tax revenues increased by 15.7 percent, the Middle East News Agency reported. 

He also said that Egypt targets a budget deficit of 6.6 percent in the 2021/22 fiscal year and a primary surplus of 1.5 percent of gross domestic product. 

The minister’s comments came during the cabinet meeting held on Wednesday by the prime minister Mostafa Madbouly, to review the financial performance indicators during the six months period.