British expatriates move to UAE in search of new lifestyle after Covid-19 and Brexit





Relocating his wife and three young children from Essex in southern England to Dubai this summer made perfect sense for Brian Myers from a lifestyle and career perspective.

For Mr Myers, chief executive of Equiti Brokerage, a shift to the UAE took him away from the seemingly endless cycles of lockdown in Britain, as well as growing fatigue with the UK’s handling of the pandemic and Brexit.

“In the UK, it's hit an inflection point with coronavirus and all of the politics that's just relentlessly around you,” the Briton, 40, tells The National.


“When you look across the world, particularly as a family with small children, there seems like very few places better than in Dubai. We love Dubai because of the weather, the infrastructure, the ease of transport and getting whatever you need quickly. It really fits our requirements as a family.”

Mr Myers is not alone. The UAE has experienced an influx of British expatriates in recent months, attracted by the lure of new job opportunities, more visa options, a tax-free salary, year-round sunshine and a better lifestyle.

Russell Owen, chief operating officer at Lootah Real Estate Development, says the company has noticed a strong surge in the number of British expatriates looking to relocate to the UAE over the past few months.

Many who relocated to the UK during the Covid-19 crisis due to job loss are now returning, he says.

While their decision to return home ensured they could secure free education and financial support during the pandemic, now that the UAE has reopened and “things have returned to normal”, the country is seen as “a shining light in terms of how it deals with Covid and the support residents get from the UAE, especially when compared to what’s happening in the UK,” Mr Owen says.

The handling of Covid coupled with a tax-free environment and a lifestyle that can’t be offered in the UK is why we have seen so much demand from British expats.
Russell Owen, Lootah Real Estate Investment Development

“The second reason for the influx is from new expats, who for many of the same reasons have decided that Dubai is in fact a better place to be than in the UK,” he adds.

“The handling of Covid coupled with a tax-free environment and a lifestyle that can’t be offered in the UK is why we have seen so much demand from British expats.”


There are more than 120,000 British citizens living in the UAE, the British Business Group in Dubai and the Northern Emirates reported.

The number of UK-registered companies in the Emirates – those registered, banked and taxed in the UK – is around the 6,000 mark, up from a previous figure of 5,000, said John Martin St Valery, chairman at the BBG.

This is in addition to the “many more thousands of British-owned and managed businesses operating throughout the UAE who don’t necessarily have a UK presence”, he says.

PRO Partner Group, a company set-up provider with offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman and Qatar, has reported a 60 per cent rise in UK registrations in the Emirates in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year.

Meanwhile, BBG has seen a 24 per cent increase in new members since March with “a good return of interest” from multinational companies.


“The majority have requested our top-tier membership level – Advance – for the increase in event attendance, representatives named on the membership and opportunities to promote their offering to the rest of the membership and our stakeholders in the UAE and the UK,” says Mr Martin St Valery.

The organisation has also noticed a rise in job postings in its e-newsletter, particularly in marketing roles

Bradley Jones, executive director of the UAE-UK Business Council, is not surprised by the influx of new expatriates, with expectations numbers will continue to go up as Britons consider fresh opportunities in the country.

Mr Jones, who has lived in the UAE on two occasions, first between 1991 to 1994 as a teacher working in Fujairah and later between 2018 to 2019 as global business development director for education provider Gems, says the British expatriate population was slowly diminishing during his last stint in the country.

The arrival of the pandemic in late January 2020 accelerated this trend.


“Then, during Covid, some expats made the decision to return to their home country,” he says. “Now there is going to be a surge because this is all about opportunity in the UAE.”

The game changer, he says, is the UAE’s new visa regime, which includes a one-year residency permit for remote workers that makes it easier for highly skilled specialists in certain industries to live and work in the Emirates.

However, he expects the profile of the British expatriate and the types of industries they work in “might be a little different from how it was in the past”.

“There might be less demand for senior managerial staff and more demand for people with very specialist skills in the medical or engineering sectors,” he says.

“Anything to do with technology, such as specialist skills in AI, robotics, 3D printing and FinTech – it’s those kind of sectors where there will be high growth.”


For Mr Myers, the ease of doing business was definitely a factor for his decision to move to Dubai.

“The UAE is so open to business and the way they've managed to keep society moving through the crisis has been fantastic,” he says.

“In the UK, people are very battle worn after 18 months of lockdown and staring at a Zoom screen. And then you come somewhere like here and you're like, 'Oh, wow, life's moving.'”


Frustrated by the effect of Brexit on the UK’s financial services sector in the City of London, in which Britain lost up to 7,000 financial services jobs because of its exit from the EU, Mr Myers says coronavirus made many realise you could work anywhere in the world and thrive without paying high rates to live and work in the UK capital.

“Prior to Brexit and coronavirus, a lot of people assumed you wanted to make it in the City because then you could make it anywhere. But now things have been deconstructed, so people aren't really tied to that notion. Whether they come to Dubai or somewhere else, people are more open to it now.”


Mr Myers has swapped his daily train commute to London for a 20-minute drive to the office on Sheikh Zayed Road, with the community spirit he has encountered living in Dubai’s Jumeirah Golf Estates also a bonus.

“We already know three people down our road and we went to the clubhouse the other day there was a party there for the kids going back to school,” says Mr Myers, who has moved into a five-bedroom villa in the development.

“These are things I haven't seen in the UK too much. Obviously, there is also weather and so much for the children to do with all the soft plays, water parks and beach days and we have a pool for them to play in,” he says.

“We just fancied a change and all of those things added to it.”

The family plan to stay in Dubai for the children’s primary school education, with their eldest child, aged 6, securing a place at a British-affiliated school.

Schools have also noticed a rise in demand, with some institutions managing wait lists across certain years, “meaning some families are committing to two school runs – in the short term – while they wait for all of their confirmed places at their preferred school,” says Mr Martin St Valery.

For Briton Sonia Fuller, who relocated from Singapore to Dubai in June, a move to the UAE was preferable to returning to the UK full-time, because she is not “cut out for UK life”.

However, she struggled to secure two school places at the same institution for her young daughters.

“School places are difficult,” says Ms Fuller, who has lived in the Emirates before. “At the school I wanted, they only had six leavers this year, which is crazy compared to other years.”

Other newly arrived expatriates laud the ease of making a doctor’s appointment in the UAE compared to the UK, where the National Health Service is still hampered by high coronavirus cases as well as a backlog of medical care demands.

And when it comes to the cost of living, Mr Myers has found fuel to be cheaper as well as services such as having a handyman fix things in the house, while eating out and entertainment is “comparable to the UK”.

For Susan, a financial services professional who did not want to reveal her full name, her decision to move to the UAE was driven by a desire for a change.

“I’d just had enough of London,” she says.

“I went to the ladies' get-together last week and I was quite shocked at how many new Brits have arrived in the past month or even six months.

“It's definitely a trend, a huge trend. If you look at Facebook groups, there are loads coming in September asking for advice such as where to stay and which schools.”

However, Susan says new arrivals will find some things, such as food and everyday items, can be more expensive.

“I went to buy some wrapping paper yesterday and it had the UK price on it of £1.75, which is about Dh9, yet they charged me Dh17,” she says.

For Ms Fuller, Dubai is less expensive than her former lifestyle in Singapore.

“You're paying so much money to live in a place where you can't enjoy all the local travel to Thailand and Bali and the local lifestyle and then you're not seeing your family,” she says of her former life in Singapore.

With her business also having a Dubai branch, it seemed the perfect alternative to life in the UK.

“I'm seven hours from Singapore and seven hours from the UK,” she says.

“I've been abroad for 14 years and I am used to live-in help at a normal cost and the sunshine and swimming pools. At the weekend, the kids can go in the pool,” she says.

As a headhunter, Ms Fuller says a number of clients have asked her to find them a job in Dubai.

“These are people who are not quite ready for England lifestyle and those whose kids are going off to boarding school or university and, again, they don't want to go to England but they want to be closer but they want the UK schooling,” she says.

“For those coming from the UK, you're going from 40 per cent to 0 per cent tax, from grey skies to blue skies – it’s a bit of a no-brainer.”

The rise in the number of new Britons is also having an effect on the property market, with residential transactions in Dubai hitting an eight-year high in the first half of 2021 as demand for bigger homes increases.

And rents are also on the rise. Prime rental prices in Dubai climbed 5 per cent between January and June, driven by a 20 per cent increase in rents across certain villa communities, Savills said, with the emirate recording the highest level of rental growth in the first six months of the year alongside other cities such as Moscow and Miami.

The preference for more indoor and outdoor space has seen demand for villas soar, in both the rental and sales markets, says Mr Owen.

“Key communities such as the Springs, Lakes and Arabian Ranches have seen demand surge with availability of units becoming more scarce,” he says.

While escaping Britain’s long winters and political system appears to be a key driver for some, Mr Jones says everyone “likes to moan about Brexit and the weather but the factors driving people to leave the UK and work in the UAE are pull factors rather than push factors.

“It's quality of life. It's the fact that they can do a skilled job for which their talents are recognised and the opportunities for professional growth.

“It’s also a good environment for those looking to relocate with their families, with good schools on offer for children and opportunities for work for a spouse.”


Strong performance of exhibitions have opened new opportunities, says Sheikh Hamdan






Dubai: Dubai hosting in-person events shows signs of growing economic growth in the emirate, said Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai.

Sheikh Hamdan highlighted the performance of the exhibition sector has resulted market growth and opened up new opportunities for Dubai. The emirate is partnering with multinational firms and major companies to contribute to the international effort and unlock new development avenues.



Sheikh Hamdan highlighted the vital role played by the construction sector in driving sustainable development. He emphasised on adopting the latest technologies and using eco-friendly materials to ensure the sector has a positive impact on the environment while promoting growth and development.




Dubai records property sales transactions worth Dhs14.97bn in Aug 2021







Dubai recorded Dhs14.97bn in real estate sales transactions in August this year, the highest value in a month since January 2017.

A total of 5,780 transactions were also recorded, making August the second best month since December 2013 for the number of sales transactions.


This brings the year to date total to 37,537 sales transactions worth Dhs88.12bn.

From January to August, the value of real estate sales transactions was 22.61 per cent more than 2020 as a whole.  The entire year of 2020 had 35,401 sales transactions worth Dhs71.87bn.

The off-plan market transacted 2,599 properties worth a total of Dhs4.95bn while the secondary market transacted 3,181 deals worth Dhs10.02bn.

“These figures are a true testament to the strength of Dubai, particularly the residential market. Consumer and investor sentiments are up, which shows the confidence of people, including foreign direct investment into Dubai. With EXPO2020 right around the corner, I expect it to continue to increase,” says Lynnette Sacchetto, director of research and data.

“The off-plan market is back again, thriving, with projects selling out in hours which shows that investors have confidence in the future of Dubai.”

The overall average sales transaction value increased to Dhs2.58m in August, an increase of 1.57 per cent when compared to July 2021. Secondary/ready average transaction value increased to Dhs3.14m, marking an increase of 5.91 per cent and off-plan average transaction value decreased by 1.3 per cent to Dhs1.9m.

According to proprietary Property Finder demand data, the top areas of transactions in the month of August 2021 for villas/townhouses were the Arabian Ranches 3, Dubai Land, Dubai South, Tilal al Ghaf and Damac Hills 2. As for apartments for the same period, the top areas of interest were Business Bay, Jumeirah Village Circle, Dubai Harbour, Mohammed bin Rashid City and Downtown Dubai.


Potential buyers queue up to get townhouses in Dubai






Photos and videos posted on social media on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning showed long lines of people looking to bag a deal as master developer Nakheel launched 360 units as part of phase 2 of Murooj Al Furjan West. The new collection of townhouses in Al Furjan master community has three- and four-bed units for a starting price of Dh1.85 million.

Long queues to buy property in Dubai is a nostalgic pre-pandemic feature and one of the barometers of market confidence.

Nakheel told Khaleej Times in a statement that it had taken all precautions and applied the highest standards of hygiene to keep customers and staff safe. This included a “large, dedicated waiting area”.

 “Safety and wellbeing is always our top priority,” the statement added.

Marwa, a property consultant, said she expected the buyers to queue up till all units are sold out.

Farooq Syed, CEO of Springfield Properties, said Nakheel has seen an “excellent response” to its latest launch. “Ready townhouse prices have moved up extremely fast post-Covid as people prefer the extra square footage and communal lifestyle as compared to living in tall vertical structures. Moreover, Nakheel is (among the few) … developers launching townhouses close to the Sheikh Zayed Road.”

He added that the townhouses have good plot sizes and built up areas as compared to others available in the market.

Fathi Akram Skaik, managing director and business owner of Noble Empire Real Estate Brokers, said phase one of the project had sold out “within hours”.

“The newly launched project is proof that there is still a big demand in the market for townhouses. I think that we will still see a demand for townhouses and small standalone villas in the coming future,” added Skaik.

Expo 2020 Dubai, which begins in just over 20 days, will bring in a lot of international investments, said Krishma Gehani, senior client manager, Homes4Life Real Estate. This will go up further with five- and 10-year Golden Visas being given to property owners, she said.




Lockdown fatigue tempts expats to make move from Asia to UAE






Hundreds of families have moved from Asia to the UAE in the past six months, with the country proving an attractive destination because of the way it has handled the Covid-19 pandemic.

Estate agents, schools and recruitment experts said they had seen an influx of highly paid professionals fed up with lockdowns, home schooling and new waves of coronavirus cases.

We've seen a 60 per cent increase in enquiries from expats looking to move to Dubai from Asia this year
Harry Tregoning, Tregoning Property

Dubai in particular is considered a good option for families, thanks to its high vaccination rate, a return to in-school learning and open restaurants and bars.

The UAE has won international recognition for its pandemic strategy, with Abu Dhabi topping a new global ranking of 50 cities for their Covid-19 response in which Dubai placed fifth.

Alex Urquhart, 44, a British mother of three, lived in Singapore for 11 years before she moved to Dubai this summer.

"We were considering moving to Dubai in 2022, but the catalyst for us moving this year was Covid-19," said Mrs Urquhart, whose husband works in shipping.

"Life in Singapore was really restricted, and we had friends in Dubai telling us the situation was under control, and that was a real pull for us.

"Then Singapore went into another lockdown, and we just thought it was going to be lockdown after lockdown.

"Also Dubai is so much closer to home, and with a negative PCR we can just hop on a flight and travel. That's a real draw. In Singapore now that isn't possible, there's no knowing if you can get back in again."


Dubai recruitment expert David Mackenzie echoed that sentiment, and said several European headhunters from Singapore and Australia have approached his company looking for positions because the pandemic has made them realise they want to be closer to home.

"We've had a 20 per cent increase in people coming from Singapore because they're fed up with lockdown, and people are leaving Hong Kong because of the Chinese takeover, plus property prices there are skyrocketing," said Mr Mackenzie, who is the managing director of Mackenzie Jones Group.

"Dubai has a similar benefits package of tax-free living, nice weather, a good environment for the kids and English is a standard language. So expats are naturally looking to the emirate as an alternative."

Open borders vs quarantine

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , Feb 08 – Harry Tregoning - Estate agent at the kite beach in Umm Suqeim area in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News/Stock/Online/Instagram. Story by Georgia

Singapore's zero-Covid policy has kept borders mostly closed since March 2020, and regular social lockdowns have been imposed every time case numbers creep up.

Regular travel to and from Hong Kong has also been curtailed since the start of the pandemic, and incoming passengers are required to quarantine for 14 to 21 days in a government facility.


These restrictions are contributing to an exodus from the island states. Figures from Singapore's Ministry of Manpower shows the number of workers from overseas declined by almost 14 per cent in the year ending December 2020.

Meanwhile, an American Chamber of Commerce survey in Hong Kong in May 2021 showed that 42 per cent of surveyed expatriates are considering or planning to move away.

Nearly two thirds of respondents cited the new National Security Law as a reason, while Covid-19 was mentioned by half of respondents, who said quarantine made it harder for them to travel and visit their families.

Dubai estate agent, Harry Tregoning of Tregoning Property, said he has seen a 60 per cent increase in enquiries from expats looking to move from Asia this year, and fewer people choosing to leave.

"I've had dozens of enquiries from expats in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia who are looking to move, and there're so many families we've run out of big villas for them," said Mr Tregoning, who is from the UK and has lived in Dubai with his family for 11 years.


"People just got fed up with the endless lockdowns – some children have been home-learning for a year now. They look at Dubai, and it's a really appealing alternative."

The draw of in-school learning

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 14 OCTOBER 2019. North London Collegiate School, one of Dubai's most expensive schools is expanding after the school's population has grown from 250 to 800 in two years. Principal James Monaghan. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Anam Rizvi. Section: National.

The influx of expatriates from Asia is also being felt by Dubai schools, with admissions enquiries staying busy over the summer, when they normally go quiet.

James Monaghan, the principal at North London Collegiate School, said the number of people attending his online "meet the principal sessions" increased by 75 per cent during July – mainly the result of overseas interest and families wanting to move to Dubai.



UAE realty sector on solid growth track ahead of Expo 2020 Dubai







 The resurgence of the UAE’s real estate market continued in Q2 2021, with some segments seeing double-digit growth in sales prices ahead of Expo 2020 in Dubai.

Dubai is raring to welcome the world as the mega event will opens its doors to the public next month.

The Q2 2021 UAE Real Estate Report by property management experts Asteco revealed that villa rental and sales rates in Abu Dhabi and Dubai continued to surge, with sales prices in certain segments expanding by almost a quarter in the period under review.

The Middle Eastern real estate markets carry massive untapped potential to be better aligned with green and sustainability goals. Regional service providers, in the real estate sector, are adopting a “Brownfield” approach, to transform existing buildings, in addition to new developments. Simply replacing the entire hardware of existing buildings has huge financial implications. Yet the sector cannot continue with the status quo, in light of increasing regulatory push through initiatives like the UAE Energy Roadmap and the Green Riyadh program.

“Brownfield” advocates are now pushing the consensus on cost-effective, downtime-reducing, and hardware-agnostic solutions, which can bring digital parity between old buildings and new ones. An important new initiative, in this context, is the Netix Novus Partner program - brainchild of leading smart buildings and automation service provider, Netix Global. Its launch has been timed just before the Expo kicks off, to boost the competitiveness of the real estate sector, by leveraging the impact of the mega event.

“A useful analogy for the benefits of the Novus program, in the maintenance space, is the example of premium branded cars, which come with warranty and service contract for a limited period of time. After these arrangements expire, the owner goes to the service provider regularly for ongoing maintenance, often having to pay a premium cost. Due to high maintenance costs, the owner ends up selling the car, only to buy a new car with another binding service contract. The alternative to selling the first car would be to find a reputed, alternative service provider, who can continue offering routine maintenance services at minimum cost. Netix Novus provides this solution in the building automation space,” Sanjeevv Bhatia, Chairman of SB Group International and CEO of Netix Global BV.

The Netix Novus Partner Program was launched on September 1, during a conference hosted at the Burj Khalifa. The event saw both in-person and online attendance, from dignitaries across the real estate value chain, from more than 20 countries. The initiative aims to create an ecosystem of partners, to create a “Brownfield” revolution powered by open-protocol, plug-and-play solutions, for existing buildings.

This “Android building” approach has won the support of top industry leaders, who have come together as Platinum Partners of the Netix Novus program. These stalwarts include Sanjeevv Bhatia, Chairman of SB Group International and CEO of Netix Global BV; Priyesh Bhatia, General Manager of ODS Global, Ganesh Khanolkar, Managing Director of Exenture India & ODS India and DOS of Teknoware and Netix, Jehad Abu Shamiyeh, CEO of Electro Power Systems, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Vivek Wagh, Business Development Director, SB Group International, Oman, Africa & South East Asia, and Jagdish Rajan, CEO, Garnet Technologies, part of JBK Qatar.

The Novus Partner Program was inspired by the successful implementation of Netix’s solutions in projects handled by ODS Global, a Dubai-based company with strong connected buildings, smart cities, sustainability, and energy efficiency focus — and now the program’s first Platinum Partner. ODS has won the maintenance of the Building Management System (BMS) of 18 properties and 5 vertical communities by Emaar, across Downtown Dubai and Dubai Creek Harbour. Netix’s retrofit solutions enabled ODS Global to help Mazaya avoid replacing the entire system and save 75% of costs. Netix’s IoT and AI-based open protocol solutions also played a crucial role in ODS Global being awarded a three-year maintenance contract for the building automation systems of 24 DAMAC Properties towers, the upgrade and maintenance of 3 Mazaya Towers’ buildings, and system integration projects at the Jafza Convention Centre, the BVLGARI Resort in Jumeirah Bay, the Pullman Hotel, and the Emirates Airlines Staff Accommodation in Dubai.

 “We are excited to join forces and accelerate the revolution of the industry. Netix Global’s open-protocol, plug-and-play approach offers the perfect solution to the inflexible systems the building automation industry is struggling with currently. Netix’s ‘Android Building’ approach will empower continuous innovation and improvement, and transform the real estate landscape in the Kingdom,” said Jehad Abu Shamiyeh, CEO of Electro Power Systems, KSA.


Wealth in Dubai grows by Dh143 billion to nearly Dh2 trillion








Dubai residents became richer by $39 billion (Dh143 billion) during the past year, reaching approximately Dh2 trillion at the end of June 2021.

According to the New World Wealth report released on Wednesday total wealth held in the city amounted to $530 billion (Dh1.94 trillion) at the end of June 2021 as compared to $491 billion (Dh1.8 trillion) at the end of the same period last year.

Thanks to its successful handling of the Covid-19, the city’s attraction has balloon substantially since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Real estate industry executives have revealed to Khaleej Times that a large number of ultra-high net worth individuals have been scouring the market for the past one year to mop up high-end properties which were selling at an attractive rate following the drop in prices for the past seven years. As a result, many millionaires have moved to Dubai from the other cities which were badly hit by the pandemic.

The latest data from Property Finder showed that Dubai recorded in June the highest real estate sales transaction volume since December 2013 with 6,388 deals worth Dh14.79 billion, taking the January to June total deal value to Dh61.97 billion. In total, the property market recorded a 40 per cent jump in sales transactions during the first half of 2021, reaching Dh61.97 billion.

The first half of 2021 also saw a Dubai villa being let a record Dh3.8 million on Palm Jumeirah. Similarly, a villa on the Palm Jumeirah was sold for a staggering Dh111.25 million, making it the most expensive property sold in Dubai this year. This reflects that big-ticket assets are in strong demand in the emirate.

The New World Wealth study found that Emirates Hills, the Jumeirah Golf Estate and the Palm Jumeirah are the top three neighbourhoods in the emirate where most of the millionaires and billionaires reside.

Maintaining its status as the wealthiest city in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, the emirate was ranked 29th wealthiest city globally, it said.

The emirate is home to just over 54,000 HNWIs at the end of June 2021 as compared to 49,400 at the end of June 2020 and 12 billionaires as against nine billionaires in the same month.

Most of the wealthiest people living in Dubai have interests in financial services, basic materials, oil and gas, transport, hotels, retail and real estate.


Dubai Home Sales Hit Eight-Year High, Boosting Depressed Prices








Residential transactions in Dubai surged to the highest level since 2013 in the six months to June, as people sought out larger homes, boosting prices in a market that’s been hamstrung by excess supply for years. 

Average home prices rose 2.8% in the six months to June, according to real estate adviser CBRE Group Inc. “Given the strength of demand underpinning the market, we have seen price performance improve considerably,” said Taimur Khan, head of research at CBRE. Still, the increase is from a low base as it compares with prices in June 2020, when the world was grappling with lockdowns.

Transaction volumes soared in the first half, surging 69.2% and 46.4% compared to the same periods in 2020 and 2019 respectively, CBRE said. The top end of Dubai’s housing market, mostly single family homes known as villas, saw a resurgence of demand and led the increase in average prices.

The luxury end of the market has come alive in a city that became a haven for wealthy Europeans escaping lockdowns and for others drawn by the ease of getting vaccinated from Covid-19. The Middle East’s business and tourism hub provided an additional lure after a property downturn that started nearly seven years ago shaved more than a third off values.

The Rich Find Haven in Dubai, and Luxury Home-Sale Boom Ensues


Housing is also riding an extended boom around the world, with valuations soaring at the fastest pace since 2006, according to Knight Frank, and annual price increases in double digits. Earlier this year, HSBC Holdings Plc said a growing demand for larger homes during the pandemic would further boost Dubai’s property market, echoing analysts at Morgan Stanley who expect the rally to last for “several years.”


In Dubai, chronic oversupply has somewhat kept price increases in check, but this year witnessed the lowest number of new home launches since 2012. So far this year, 18,616 units have been completed and an additional 37,466 are scheduled to be delivered over the course of 2021 -- a lower rate than the 83,000 initially forecast, CBRE said.

“Citywide, price increases aren’t expected and affordability remains an issue,” CBRE’s Khan said by phone. “Due to oversupply, prices across the city will level up but we’ll have to wait sometime for prices to climb all over (Dubai).”

Home rents are continuing to fall, declining 5.9% in the year to June 2021, and illustrating the challenge facing the overall market. Apartments have been the biggest drag, with rents dropping 8.1% on average amid persisting oversupply. Over the same 12-month period, villa rents increased by 10.1%.


Dubai property demand set to pick up further








Demand for residential property in Dubai will pick up further in the coming years as foreign investors are snapping up unsold units amidst a steady recovery in prices, says founder and chairman of Danube Group.

"As a result of strong demand, the market is improving and property prices are on the rise with a good number of high net worth foreign investors from India, Russia and other countries are flocking to Dubai to buy real estate assets at a very attractive price," said Rizwan Sajan.

In order to cash on improving market sentiment, Danube Properties, a real estate development arm of Danube Group, plans to launch its first project since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UAE in the next couple of months.

“We plan to launch a project very soon in Arjan. I feel the real estate market has picked up as investors from all over the world are pumping in money here. All neighbouring countries are still trying to get coronavirus vaccine whereas the UAE is functioning as a normal country. Therefore, the confidence in the UAE is very high and a lot of people are buying second homes. I believe this sentiment will continue over the next couple of years,” Sajan told Khaleej Times during an interview.

Real estate consultancy Asteco said at its second-quarter report that property prices across the UAE continued to recover with some segments seeing double-digit growth in sale prices.

Danube chairman disclosed that the company has been consistently performing better year on year, even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our results for 2021 look much better than 2020. Even 2020 was better than 2019 despite a four-month lockdown. We kept the staff motivated, ensured that we keep proper stock and work hand-in-hand with suppliers during the pandemic. When the situation normalised and businesses improved, payments from clients also improved.

“We helped clients with deferred payment. If their cheques bounced, we did not take them to the court. We held them and let them pay as per their ability. It strained our cash flow but it was the least that we could do. It was an unprecedented crisis and we needed to hold hands with our suppliers, customers and all stakeholders. At the end of the day, we are human beings and it is the time to be compassionate,” said Sajan.

Established in 1993 in Dubai, Danube was launched as a building material supplier company but later expanded into other business verticals such as real estate development and home interiors and decorations.

Danube founder started his career in Kuwait but he returned to India after the Iraq-Kuwait war in 1990-91.

“Since I had some good experience in managing building materials business in the Gulf, I thought of going back to the Gulf and start a new career. So, I came to Dubai to try out my luck. I got a job in the same sector and soon developed good contacts with the contractors. But I soon realised that in order to grow, I need to develop my own business. So I started Danube Building Materials in 1993. Initially, I used to source goods and supply to contractors with a margin. We then started to open shops and warehouses as the business grew to support our clients. This is how the business grew. The rest is history,” Sajan said.

Sharing his life experience, he said: “In the last 28 years, I have seen three ups and downs. But whenever there is a crisis, Dubai has emerged stronger because its fundamentals are very strong. Similarly, Danube’s also emerged stronger – whether it’s the Kuwait-Iraq war, 2009 financial crisis or the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic crisis. Because the lessons I had learnt in my childhood and my early career taught me certain things that help me even today – be honest, hard-working, be ethical and straightforward in your dealings. Don’t make a promise that you can’t keep. These simple but powerful values helped me develop Danube Group into a successful business.”

He revealed that the construction material business is under pressure because not many new projects have been launched in Dubai. “However, a number of developers are going to launch new projects that will change the dynamics and help the sector grow.”

He noted that home improvement and interiors sections are growing even during the pandemic for people are now investing in home improvement due to work from home and upgrading their furniture etc.


Expo Still on Track to Boost Dubai Property Market, Real Estate Data Expert Says






Beginning his career in real estate in 2006, Haider Tuaima has witnessed the major swings of Dubai property market. 

Mr. Tuaima, 55, has been living in Dubai for over 20 years. Now serving as the head of real estate research at one of the Middle East’s leading consulting and advisory firms ValuStrat, Mr. Tuaima delivers data-driven market intelligence to help his clients and beyond make informed decisions. 

While the Dubai real estate market has been through a lot in recent times, including years of slumping prices, the veteran real estate researcher said supportive government policies, buyer-friendly mortgage rates and a pandemic-led work-from-home trend has helped put the city’s property market on track to recovery. 


Despite some uncertainties, Mr. Tuaima believes the outlook of Dubai’s prime real estate in 2022 could be very positive with a successful Dubai World Expo. As the long-awaited mega event, which was postponed due to the pandemic last year, sets to kick off in October, the city is expecting more foreign investment and possibly the return of international home buyers who have been a major force driving the city’s high-end market. 

Mansion Global caught up with the Dubai-based real estate expert recently to find out how the Covid-19 pandemic and delayed World Expo has impacted the city and what the real estate market there will be like in the post-COVID era.  


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Mansion Global: What is ValuStrat known for? 

Haider Tuaima: We are not developers, we are not brokers, we provide market research.

One of my responsibilities is creating an index for the market and trying to define where the market is heading for the U.A.E. and the region. 

Generally, 90% of the population [in Dubai] is very much transitional, so people leave and new people will come, therefore the real estate market here is very difficult to gauge. That’s where my job comes in as you need a dedicated team to figure out and try to measure where the market is heading.

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MG: How has Covid-19 impacted the Dubai real estate market? 

HT: Before Covid, in late 2019 and early 2020, the market was thinking that everything is going to be positive in 2020. 

Then Covid came. Basically we went into lockdown; the Expo was postponed and market sentiment was hit hard. At least 90% of the market has been hit hard.

We don’t have any more international investors coming into the country because their countries were in lockdown. The inside domestic buyers were thinking they could lose their jobs because of Covid, and people have been laid off because of that. So it became very complicated and a very uncertain market. 

Transactional activity was at a record low for the second quarter of 2020. So we reached the bottom in 2020. Between the peak of 2014 and the bottom of 2020, the Dubai real estate market lost about 40% of value.

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MG: Has the city bounced back from Covid shock? 

HT: We definitely hit rock bottom last year, and now we are seeing very good growth. 

The properties have become so affordable they became buying opportunities for many. In addition to that, banks started to offer higher loan to values. So before we were capped at 75% loan-to-value maximum, which has increased to 85% for first time homebuyers. At the same time, the government stepped in and tried to strike a balance between supply and demand. 

The U.A.E. also rolled out probably the most ambitious vaccination programs, so the country is now really coming back.

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MG: What kind of properties are more in demand in Dubai now and how has it changed over the years? 

HT: At the moment, I think there is a trend that is happening worldwide, not just in the U.A.E., which is [homebuyers are] moving toward bigger spaces. There is also a migration away from the city center.

In the last six to nine months, there has been a concentration on villas and townhouses transactions as people are looking for bigger spaces rather than sitting in an apartment when they are working from home. 

A few years ago, there was more concentration on the off-plan market. So about three-quarters, perhaps two-thirds of real estate investments were toward the off-plan market, which are the properties that have not been built yet. 

When the government stepped in, now we have less of that. So now the market has switched to the majority of investments toward existing properties. Good thing about older, existing properties is that in general, for the same budget, the older ones offer bigger spaces compared to those being built more recently. 

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MG: Who are buying in Dubai now? 

HT: Most of the demand right now is from domestic investors, especially in the high-end sector. 

MG: Why are foreign buyers interested in Dubai and when will they come back to the market? 

HT: Safety and security here is top notch. The whole city is a 24-hour city, and it’s very, very safe so people are attracted to the safety. 

Also the majority of us speak English, and speak many languages, most of us speak more than one language. So whoever comes here from wherever they are, whatever part of the world, Dubai might not be home, but at least there is a support system where you will be no stranger and you will see people from all over the world.

The Expo is coming in a couple of months. Hopefully then the borders will open to other countries to come to this country, which means we will have investors from the outside, not just the domestic investors.

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MG: What’s the future looks like for the Dubai real estate market? 

HT: Now that we have reached the bottom, we are starting to grow and the growth will be gradual, which is healthy. 

The growth has been very gradual because we have so much supply coming in, particularly in the apartment sector. It will need a lot of time for all of these units to be absorbed. I think it will be a healthy growth going forward. 

We do expect, between now and mid-next year, we will see an accelerated growth and so far it is definitely happening. Month on month we are seeing the difference.



Source Properties Real Estate consultants are RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Agency) registered.

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