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.”


OPEC+ likely to be cautious on oil demand at upcoming meeting

OPEC+ likely to be cautious on oil demand at upcoming meeting
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 10 sec ago

OPEC+ likely to be cautious on oil demand at upcoming meeting

OPEC+ likely to be cautious on oil demand at upcoming meeting
  • Opec+ is a group consisting of both Opec and some of the world's largest non-Opec oil exporting nations

RIYADH: The OPEC+ group is likely to take a cautious stance when deciding next week whether to go ahead with planned production increases following the discovery of a new COVID-19 variant has emerged, Geneva-based oil trader Vitol Group said. 

The new variant, named Omicron, has rattled the oil market globally, pushing prices down to their biggest decline since April 2020. 

There are signs that demand may be weakening in some markets going into the winter months in Asia and Europe, said Mike Muller, the head of the Asia unit at Vitol, as reported by Bloomberg.

The new coronavirus variant will probably lead to more flight cancellations this week, he said.

Several countries have tightened travel restrictions against a number of African countries, following the discovery.

Opec+ is a group consisting of both Opec and some of the world's largest non-Opec oil exporting nations.

“OPEC+ have erred on the side of caution,” Muller said on a weekly webinar by Dubai consultancy Gulf Intelligence.

“Post facto they’ve proven to be right. It is likely they will take into account these fundamentals and the possibility of a demand hit over the winter months.”

OPEC and its partners, including Russia, will meet next week to discuss whether it will implement a planned production increase of 400,000 barrels per day.

 


Qatar’s wealth fund might acquire $7bn gas assets from UK’s National Grid: CNBC

Qatar’s wealth fund might acquire $7bn gas assets from UK’s National Grid: CNBC
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 41 min 53 sec ago

Qatar’s wealth fund might acquire $7bn gas assets from UK’s National Grid: CNBC

Qatar’s wealth fund might acquire $7bn gas assets from UK’s National Grid: CNBC
  • Goldman Sachs and Barclays are advising National Grid on the sale

RIYADH: Qatar Investment Authority (QIA),  the country’s sovereign wealth fund, may acquire assets of the UK’s National Grid, which operates electricity and natural gas transmission networks, CNBC Arabia reported, citing two unnamed sources.

QIA was part of a consortium of investors that acquired about 61 percent of the British company's gas pipeline assets five years ago.

Now the Qatari fund is competing with other global investment funds, including Macquarie and Equitix, to acquire the gas assets in an estimated $7 billion deal, the sources said. 

Goldman Sachs and Barclays are advising National Grid on the sale, the report added.

This comes amid a protracted energy crisis that has affected the UK and Europe significantly in recent months amid the disruption of global supply chains. 

The country earlier announced it reached an agreement with Qatar to secure its gas needs or 40 percent of the UK’s total energy mix. 

National Grid has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and a secondary listing in the form of its American depositary receipts on the New York Stock Exchange.


Amazon to open Abu Dhabi fulfilment centre by 2024, says govt media office

Amazon to open Abu Dhabi fulfilment centre by 2024, says govt media office
Updated 28 November 2021

Amazon to open Abu Dhabi fulfilment centre by 2024, says govt media office

Amazon to open Abu Dhabi fulfilment centre by 2024, says govt media office

 Amazon has partnered with Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) to establish a fulfilment centre by 2024 to be built in accordance with the company's carbon-reduction strategies, the Abu Dhabi government's media office said on Sunday


The project will create thousands of jobs, boosting Abu Dhabi's logistics sector and retail ecosystem and will be in line with the UAE's ambition to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the media office added.


Gulf countries to establish integrated industrial strategy: Bahraini minister

Gulf countries to establish integrated industrial strategy: Bahraini minister
Updated 28 November 2021

Gulf countries to establish integrated industrial strategy: Bahraini minister

Gulf countries to establish integrated industrial strategy: Bahraini minister

Countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are planning to set up an integrated industrial strategy, Bahraini Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Zayed Alzayani said.

This will be done by creating a unified “Gulf strategy for industry,” Asharq Al-Awsat reported, citing him.

The Gulf countries are also trying to increase dependence on each other instead of importing raw materials from abroad, which Alzayani said could create jobs, diversify economies, and expand their exporting values. 

He added the region is heading towards the formation of a customs and economic union by 2025, and the integrated industrial system will help the Gulf to stand among global conglomerates as a single bloc.

When combined, Gulf countries are the 12th largest economy globally, the minister said, adding their aim to be among the top 10 biggest economies in the world.

 


Lebanon launches second licensing round for 8 offshore oil, gas blocks 

Lebanon launches second licensing round for 8 offshore oil, gas blocks 
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 28 November 2021

Lebanon launches second licensing round for 8 offshore oil, gas blocks 

Lebanon launches second licensing round for 8 offshore oil, gas blocks 
  • The US is mediating between Lebanon and Israel, who are technically at war, to resolve the dispute

RIYADH: Lebanon has launched the second licensing round for eight offshore oil and gas blocks after two years of delay.

The government had agreed to launch the second round in April 2019 but it was postponed due to the pandemic, Bloomberg reported.

The US is mediating between Lebanon and Israel, who are technically at war, to resolve the dispute over about 860 square kilometers of water.

The deadline for applications is June 15, according to the Lebanese Petroleum Administration.