x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Dubai developers aim for crest of wave at Cityscape

Nakheel and Emaar are hoping to take advantage of the "Emaar effect" at this year's Cityscape.

Emaar Properties' 542 serviced apartments in Downtown Dubai that went on sale were sold out. Pawan Singh / The National
Emaar Properties' 542 serviced apartments in Downtown Dubai that went on sale were sold out. Pawan Singh / The National

Dubai developers are hoping for a return to boom-time crowds as they showcase their plans for this week's Cityscape exhibition.

Nakheel, the company behind the Palm and The World islands, is predicting it will attract hundreds of investors to queue up to buy 360 luxury villas at its 3.5 square kilometre Jumeirah Park scheme in Dubai when they go on sale today.

Speaking exclusively to The National, the Nakheel chairman Ali Rashid Lootah said there was already high demand from investors for the luxury villas, which are expected to go on sale for Dh4 million (US1.08m) to Dh5m.

"There is very high demand," said Mr Lootah.

"People queued this morning and we had to tell them, 'Please come back tomorrow.' People actually came and queued on Friday night and we told them, 'Please please, it doesn't look good to have queues.' But the demand is there. It's a sign of high demand.

"Always, in any recovery, you will find that the high end recovers first. There is a huge demand in the market for high-end villas so we have to go according to the market needs. And actually this is a good sign of recovery."

Nakheel originally launched its 2,000 three, four and five-bedroom villa Jumeirah Park development back in 2008. However, the scheme was stalled during the global economic crisis until work resumed in the second half of 2010 after the company's restructuring.

It hopes to experience the sort of scenes seen last week at Emaar's sales office in Dubai when hundreds braved 40°C heat to queue in the hope of getting their hands on one of the firm's 542 serviced apartments in Downtown Dubai.

Meanwhile, Damac is also hoping to cash in on the new-found "Emaar effect" for its Cityscape wares by turning itself into one of the largest serviced hotel apartment companies in the region.

The Dubai developer said it planned to have 4,000 hotel apartments under development by the end of next year.

"Dubai currently has less than 200 serviced apartment buildings in the market, according to the Dubai Department of Tourism, but the product is hugely popular with international tourists, especially from Saudi Arabia. We see this sector as an important driver in our business in the coming years," said Niall McLoughlin, the senior vice president of Damac Properties.

The developer hopes to begin handing over its first major serviced apartments scheme, Burjside Boulevard, a 50-storey tower in the Burj Area of Dubai, in the middle of next year.

"Developers who are not Emaar must be wondering what they did so right to get such a positive reaction," said Mario Volpi, a sales and leasing manager for Cluttons, an estate agent. "Pricing is paramount. And, of course, location.

"To investors, the Nakheel which is selling villas is a completely different animal from the Nakheel which is developing the Palm," said Mr Volpi. "Being located away from the Palm, Jumeirah Park has not been caught up with the service charge issues or controversy over private beaches. It's in a good location and any new release is likely to prove popular."

lbarnard@thenational.ae