Dubai developers are set to release billions of dollars worth of development land around the proposed Expo 2020 site as the countdown to the announcement of the bid decision begins.
Tasweek, an Abu Dhabi-based property investor, is among several developers working up plans for housing schemes close to the 438-hectare site.
The private company, set up in 2009 by former the Emaar and Sorouh executive Masood Al Awar, said it had signed a joint venture with a landowner to develop 800 new town houses close to the Exhibition City site.
Tasweek said it planned to start selling the first phase of 400 homes in the coming months and already had investors lined up to buy many of them.
“Lots of developers are buying land in this area,” Mr Al Awar said. “The Expo site will be a new centre for Dubai as it expands beyond Sheikh Zayed Road. This site is only 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi. The development will provide a boost to both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.”
There is less than a week left before the Bureau International des Expositions makes its final decision on whether Dubai will host Expo 2020.
Mr Al Awar warned that a successful bid could lead to the escalation of property prices. “We are building affordable luxury homes. People should be careful that prices are not jacked up after the bid,” he said. “Just as people need to be cautious when the market is falling, they also need to be cautious when it rises. Otherwise it is not sustainable.”
The news comes as the Dubai master developer Nakheel began selling 500 plots of land to smaller developers to build housing at its Al Furjan project, which is a five-minute drive from the Expo site.
Land plots on the property project between Sheikh Zayed Road and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road range between 4,800 square feet and 13,000 square feet, while prices range from Dh1.1 million to Dh3.3m.
A Nakheel spokesman said the developer was expecting a high level of investment interest.
“This newly-released land is ideal for serious investors looking to develop new homes in one of Dubai’s most convenient, sought-after locations,” he said.
Nakheel said the launch was “as per its business plan and not related to the Expo”.
Property experts say a successful announcement next Wednesday will be a major boon for the property market and expect more developments to be announced in the coming weeks.
Craig Plumb, Jones Lang LaSalle’s head of research at its Dubai office, said Nakheel might have been among the first to sell land plots to developers, but there were many master developers who own major sites close to the Expo site.
“Over the coming months we expect to see many more land sales in the area around the Expo site as well as a wave of new projects,” Mr Plumb said.
Earlier this week, master developer Dubai Properties Group (DPG) reported a “marked increase” in demand from other developers to buy plots of land at its 278-square kilometre Dubailand district. The Arjan, Marjan and Liwan areas of Dubailand are just a few minutes’ drive from the Expo venue.
DPG said it was considering developing a building park for logistics companies on the site to meet growing demand.
Khalid Al Malik, DPG’s chief executive, said Dubailand was an important district, and investor interest would lead to its continued development and growth.
“With the possibility of Dubai hosting the World Expo in 2020, the market trend for growth and investor demand in our key districts across Dubai has been further enhanced,” Mr Al Malik said.
Indeed, Expo expectations are running high in the city. CFA Society Emirates, an association of local investment professionals, yesterday said that 97 per cent of the 215 charterholder members it surveyed said they believed the UAE was either likely or very likely to win the Expo bid
The society said that 76 per cent of respondents expected a positive or significant impact on the real estate sector.
However, it added that 55 per cent of respondents were concerned that a successful bid for Expo 2020 would create another economic bubble.