As golf fans flock to watch Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods compete in the Dubai Desert Classic, property developers are hoping the event will provide another boost to golf-themed home construction in the emirate.
Thousands of new villas are planned to be built around new golf courses in Dubai as the emirate's property market returns from boom to bust to boom again. Hundreds of them had been delayed since the onslaught of the global financial crisis.
In the past six months, developers in Dubai have announced plans for at least 28.5 million square metres of new golf course developments – the equivalent of about 7,000 football fields.
These include 11 million sq metres of development at Dubai Hills, which was launched last June by Emaar and Meraas. The project, which is to be built in the first phase of Mohammed bin Rashid City, will be set around a new 18-hole golf course. A first tranche of off-plan villas was quietly launched to 70 selected buyers in December.
At the same time, Dubai-based Damac is developing its Akoya scheme, another 3.9 million sq metres of luxury villas around the Trump International course. Damac launched sales for a first tranche of villas at its Rockwood, Richmond and Topanga clusters in November.
Farther south at Dubai World Central, the 140 sq kilometre mega-project around Al Maktoum airport, yet another golf course is earmarked to be built. In December, Emaar Properties signed a deal with the emerging aviation hub to develop a 13.6 million sq metre golf course and villa community alongside hotels and a mall.
But the resumption of large-scale golf-themed housing construction has led some analysts to urge caution.
“Golf course development is an example of a concept that worked very well at the start in Dubai, but then everyone jumped on board and started doing it, leaving the market oversupplied,” said Victoria Garrett, associate director for residences at Knight Frank's Dubai office.
“The problem is that the market will be saturated with all of these projects. With so much product set to come on to the market, we believe it is questionable whether all of these schemes will actually be completed as planned.”
The swaths of new golf course development come just as developers look at dusting down plans for thousands more golf villas stalled by the global financial crisis.
The government-owned developer Jumeirah Golf Estates is hoping to press ahead with its plans for another two golf courses – Water and Wind – at its Jumeirah Golf Estates project, where it has started handing over the first tranches of completed villas five years later than first planned.
And at the Cityscape Global property show last year, the Saudi developer Tanmiyat restarted marketing its plans to develop Living Legends, a Peter Harradene-designed nine-hole golf course in Dubailand.
Last July, Dubai Holding said it was considering reviewing its Tiger Woods Dubai golf course plans after work on the scheme, which was to be surrounded by 22 palaces and 75 mansions, was suspended in 2011.
“If you do want to buy an off-plan golf villa, then try to choose a trusted developer with a track record of delivering on time and to the quality that was promised,” said Ms Garrett. “Think carefully about how many other villas are set to be built in the development.”