x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Cityscape through a broker’s eyes

Cityscape had only just opened its doors and already Mario Volpi could see that this year’s show was well and truly shouting out ‘Dubai’s real estate is definitely worth investigating’.

The anticipation of a bigger cityscape was building up in me long before I arrived at the exhibition centre as it was widely reported that this year’s event was going to be nearly 3 times as large as last year with visitor numbers set to increase to an estimated 25,000 from 17,000 in 2012.

But I was not expecting it to be quite so popular as I queued patiently in traffic for nearly an hour just to get into the overflow car park.

The exhibition had only just opened its doors and already I could see that this year’s show was well and truly shouting out ‘Dubai’s real estate is definitely worth investigating’.

On entering the main hall the positive atmosphere was palpable and it quickly became evident that there is a different story to tell compared to previous shows.

In past Cityscapes during the boom time there was a definite excess as we engorged ourselves on too much property. Whilst there are new projects I feel that this year is more measured and totally geared to winning Expo 2020.

Before Cityscape, I was worried that the announcements of new legislation including the recent hiking of transfer fees would adversely dent the property market. This may still have a major effect but now that I see how Dubai is re-inventing itself and striving to be and maintain itself as a world class city, I need not worry.

As an agent I look around and see the interest once more and hope that this interest is not just driven by investors but also by end users that hopefully see Dubai as their home and decide to buy real estate for all the right reasons.

As a regular commentator on all things property, I was well aware that many developers were waiting for Cityscape to announce their new projects - some even jumped the gun by announcing a day early. New projects and some re-launches were also announced on today. The more dramatic launches include the Dubai Creek/waterway extension which will offer an array of leisure, hospitality, food and beverage and new amenities along the canal, not forgetting the beautiful and contemporary architecture of newly designed low and high rise buildings and towers.

Seeing the model of Meraas’ Bluewater development just off JBR’S coastline, housing what will be the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, ‘The Dubai I’, was breath-taking. Emaar’s re-launch of the Lagoons project was also spectacular and the master plan of Mohammed Bin Rashid City looks like a sprawling metropolis in itself.

What struck me this year was the return of some the Dubai/UAE based developers that in the past had quietly retreated.

Union Properties launching new projects in Motor City and Omniyat re-launching the Pad in business Bay just to mention a couple. There were still the usual elaborate stands of foreign developers, trying their hardest to entice the investors/buyers to consider investing in their country but somehow, I don’t think they will succeed this year. Dubai appears to have weathered the storm of a property downturn and has emerged once again at the leading edge of the global investor interest.

Mario Volpi is the managing director of Prestige Real Estate in Dubai and has worked in the property industry in London and Dubai for the past 29 years. Send any questions to mario@prestigedubai.com