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Alan Robertson of Jones Lang LaSalle Mena expects the country's property market to keep buzzing "for the foreseeable future". Jaime Puebla / The National
Alan Robertson of Jones Lang LaSalle Mena expects the country's property market to keep buzzing 'for the foreseeable future'. Jaime Puebla / The National

Property sector is hot ... too hot?

Profile: Alan Robertson, the chief executive of Jones Lang LaSalle Mena, says that if the problems associated with the Arab Spring were to spread further, it could result in a general loss of confidence in the wider Middle East.

What is the asset class and geography you are focused on?

We advise owners, investors, developers and occupiers of real estate in all geographies across the Middle East and North Africa. We provide a "cradle to grave" range of services for all asset classes including offices, retail, industrial, hospitality, residential and mixed use.

What is the outlook for the month ahead?

This year we have seen increased activity in all sectors and in most markets across the Mena region. This has been most noticeable in Dubai and, to a certain extent, in Abu Dhabi. We see this continuing for the foreseeable future.

What are the main risks (either upside or downside) to the outlook?

The main risks come from external sources. For example, we could feel a detrimental "ripple effect" from increased volatility and uncertainty in the global financial markets. Regionally, if the problems associated with the Arab Spring were to spread further, it could result in a general loss of confidence in the wider Middle East. Locally, and looking to the longer term, there is a potential risk that elements of the Dubai real estate market could overheat if growth continues at such a high rate.

What is the best investment at the moment in your opinion?

It depends on a number of factors. Certain districts in Dubai offer excellent potential in most sectors, at least for the short to medium term. Otherwise, in general, hospitality, residential or office developments in the very best locations offer the best returns at the moment.

What was the best investment you were ever involved in?

Probably my own houses - starting from a young age I took frequent steps up the residential housing ladder and we now have a lovely family home in Scotland to return to. Outside real estate, it was probably my first car, which I bought for 140, and then immediately sold the number plate for 650. In addition to the initial return the car was a faithful servant to me for the next two years.

What was the worst?

Probably the last car I bought in the UK - I moved overseas after owning it for 18 months, by which time it had virtually halved in value!

lbarnard@thenational.ae

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