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DUBAI PROPERTY DEALS CROSS DH204 BILLION IN NINE MONTHS

Overall property transactions in Dubai totalled Dh204 billion in the first nine months of 2017, according to the Dubai Land Department (DLD) data released on Monday. This was done through 52,170 transactions.

This compares to Dh259 billion worth of property deals achieved for the full year 2016 and Dh132 billion in the first half of 2017.

“Transactions have increased this year compared to 2016 mostly due to the success of off-plan transactions. By August of this year, the number of off-plan transactions had already exceeded the total amount of off-plan sales in 2016. This trend will continue into next year as many new projects have been announced and buyers, both investors and end-users, have been very receptive to off-plan sales due to attractive price points and payment plans,” Lynnette Abad, partner and head of Property Monitor/Cavendish Maxwell, told Khaleej Times.

“If we consider historic trends for the last few years, we find that the volume of transactions during the fourth quarter of every year is higher than the quarter before it. As per our calculations, Dh72 billion worth of real estate transactions were made during Q3 2017. Given the exponential growth of off-plan transactions as compared to ready properties, it would be highly likely that the total transaction value for this year will surpass Dh259 billion which was the figure for 2016,” said Haider Tuaima, head of real estate research at ValuStrat.

Land sales accounted for the lion’s share of transactions at Dh143.4 billion from 11,169 transactions, while deals involving entire buildings were 5,014 transactions for Dh12.7 billion. Residential units accounted for Dh48.7 billion through 36,000 transactions.

Suggesting more end-user activity in the market, there were 11,699 transactions that were financed through mortgages, valued at Dh102 billion. Palm Jumeirah accounted for most mortgages with 578 transactions exceeding Dh11.4 billion, followed by Business Bay with 596 transactions worth Dh4.6 billion. Dubai Marina ranked third with 777 transactions worth over Dh3 billion.

Sultan Butti bin Mejren, director-general of DLD, said: “The data shows increasing demand across all property categories, including land plots for various forms of real estate development, as well as buildings and residential units. We expect the market to remain on this upward trajectory of sustained growth. The momentum of the market is being driven and sustained by several factors but particularly the upcoming Expo 2020.”

Business Bay and Dubai Marina remained top investor picks, accounting for 2,754 and 2,596 transactions respectively. Al Barsha South also attracted investor attention with 2,418 transactions.

But in terms of value, the Burj Khalifa district reigned, with 1,650 transactions accounting for a sizeable Dh6.2 billion. Business Bay was placed second with Dh5.6 billion worth of transactions, and Dh5.4 billion for Dubai Marina.

Sharing his outlook for the fourth quarter, Tuaima added: “There will be continued delivery of new residential stock, mainly in eastern and southern parts of Dubai. Rents will become increasingly attractive to Dubai’s workforce currently living in the northern emirates. There are further signs of appreciation in prices for ready properties in some parts of Dubai, though continued high volume of off-plan sales may slow down the recovery process.”

The majority of agents surveyed by Property Monitor are predicting apartment and villa/townhouse prices as well as rents to decrease further in Q4 2017. “In terms of transactions, 63 per cent of agents expect new buyer enquiries to increase while 56 per cent expect an increase in the number of agreed sales,” added Abad.

DUBAI’S DAY WITHOUT ITS SERVICE CENTRES

The Dubai government made an interesting announcement last month. Service transactions provided by government entities in Dubai will be available only via smart channels tomorrow [October 26] as part of the initiative titled “A Day without Service Centres” to encourage customers to use smart channels to pay fees and complete transactions.

The unique ‘A Day Without Service Centres’ initiative is approved by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and launched by the Dubai Department of Finance (DOF). It is aimed to encourage customers to turn to smart channels to obtain and complete government services and transactions. All transactions requiring making payments at customer centres operating in Dubai will be stropped for the day. All such transactions can only be conducted through alternative smart channels on that day.

However, the customer service centres will dedicate their efforts on Thursday, October 26, to spread awareness among customers about the importance of transformation to smart channels to do or complete transactions.

The media statement from the Dubai Department of Finance explains the reasons for the unique day: completing government transactions via smart channels helps save customers’ time, effort and money by avoiding use of private or public means of transport, and avoiding crowded roads and service centres, thus helping in preserving environmental resources, rationalizing fuel consumption, and reducing carbon emissions.

This initiative, the statement reiterates, is a step forward in achieving the Dubai Vision 2021 and also establish the emirate as the happiest and smartest city in the best country in the world in time for the UAE Centennial 2071.

There, perhaps, is no other place in the region which can confidently push for such a unique day. The UAE in general and Dubai in particular have been the leaders in spearheading e-governance in the region, and beyond.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai, during the launch of the m-government initiative, in 2013, said: We want to relocate citizen service centres into every citizen device, enabling them to obtain their desired service through their mobile phones anywhere at any time. A successful government reaches out to the citizens rather than waits for them to come to it.

Many government departments in Dubai now allow transactions through their own websites or through automated kiosks placed at their premises or customer service centres.

Today most of the government services are available on smart channels like web portals, mobile apps and kiosks. Services like, electricity and water bill payment, transportation cards top-up, salik top-up, vehicle registration renewal, trademark registration, renewal of trade license, reporting a traffic accident or a lost item can be completed on these smart channels.

At my work level, I have had the opportunity to discuss with various government entities and utility service providers on making their services available with non-human interactions. I have been amazed by their progressive thinking. While making sure an increasing number of their services are made available to customers right on their palm, at a time convenient to them, the entities are continuously on the lookout to increase the efficiency and better customer experiences.

Over the years, automated kiosks have been installed at various government entity premises including customer service centers. The beauty of KIOSK is that it not only facilitates the payments of the government services, but it stands as a smart government Centre where customers can apply for many services, issue cards or licenses, and do the KYC process over the KIOSK such as scanning a passport, reading the national ID, getting the finger print, taking photo or any other needed documentation needed for applying a service.

Kiosks are not just about reducing costs. It has been observed that automated kiosks help in delivering services faster and more efficiently.

I personally see The ‘A Day Without Service Centers’ initiative as a great step forward by the Dubai Government that will encourage individuals in keeping pace with the UAE’s vision of being the smartest city. It will not only reduce the load on unnecessary usage of personnel, it will also ensure correct usage of the online portals.

COLOURED SOLAR PANELS TO DRESS BUILDINGS IN DUBAI

Dubai Investments, the leading, diversified investments company listed on the Dubai Financial Market, has announced that the coloured solar panels through its joint venture Emirates Insolaire LLC, will soon be installed on buildings across Dubai, as the emirate reinforces its commitment to a sustainable future. This will be the first time that coloured solar panels will dress up buildings in Dubai.

Emirates Insolaire, which manufactures and markets KromatixTM coloured solar glass in Dubai – the first-of-its-kind in the world, is in advanced negotiations with authorities and companies on installation plans. Dubai has already installed photovoltaic panels on 433 buildings with a total capacity of 14.6 megawatts [MW]. The number of panels is expected to double in the future to eventually cover all buildings in the Emirate by 2030.

The company, DIC’s joint venture with SwissINSO Holding – a Switzerland-based pioneer in solar technologies that developed KromatixTM, is showcasing the revolutionary solar panel technology, photovoltaic modules and solar thermal collectors at second Dubai Solar Show, part of 19th Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition [WETEX] 2017 in Dubai World Trade Centre. The show and exhibition continues till October 25.

Rafic Hanbali, managing partner of Emirates Insolaire, said: “Emirates Insolaire is set to play a pivotal role in the regional solar sector growth, as it is the only company in the world which offers the coloured solar panel technology. Soon, skyscrapers and buildings in Dubai will have a beautiful coloured dress, which is both aesthetically appealing and sustainable.”

He added: “The KromatixTM solar glass is expected to become a rage, with year-long sunshine guaranteed in this part of the world. The technology has received phenomenal response in Europe, where sunshine is comparatively lower, with many building facades and roofs now with Emirates Insolaire solar panels. The coloured solar panels from Emirates Insolaire promote the use of renewable energy sources that aims to make Dubai a global centre of clean energy and green economy.”

The technology from Emirates Insolaire is in line with the Dubai government’s initiative to use solar power as a renewable source of energy, and integral to Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. The strategy aims to provide seven per cent of Dubai’s energy from clean energy sources by 2020, 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050.

The solar growth in UAE mirrors the surging demand for solar panel technology across the region and globe. According to an analysis by Frost and Sullivan, the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] countries are expected to increase their installed solar capacity 50-fold between 2015 and 2025. Emirates Insolaire has completed installation of KromatixTM solar PV modules in several locations in the world, including Lausanne, Basel, Leysin, Austria, Copenhagen, Germany etc

GOLD PRICES HIT LOWEST IN THREE WEEKS: 24K PRICED AT DH153.50

Gold prices touched their lowest point in nearly three weeks on Friday as the euro slipped against the dollar following the European Central Bank’s extension of its bond-buying programme.

Dubai gold prices are currently a Dh153.50 for 24-karat and 22-karat can be bought for Dh144.25 .

Currency investors played a diverging monetary policy outlook, with the US expected to raise interest rates again before the end of 2017 while Europe is not now expected to do so in the coming years.

Spot gold touched a low of $1,264.15 per ounce(Dh4,652), its worst since October 6, and although it was 0.1 per cent higher at $1,268.50 by 1005GMT it was still heading for its second week-ly decline.

US gold futures for December delivery gave up 0.1 per cent to $1,267.90.

“How gold finishes the week will now be entirely at the whim of the US dollar and US yields, with little to no geopolitical safe-haven premium left in the price,” Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst with OANDA, said

PAKISTAN THUMP SRI LANKA IN ABU DHABI THRILLER TO SWEEP T20 SERIES

Pakistan youngsters held their nerves against Sri Lanka to clinch the three-match T20 series 2-0 at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Faheem Ashraf’s hat-trick and Shadab Khan’s cameo innings steered Pakistan to a two-wicket win.

Earlier, Pakistan had won the toss and there were no experiments as skipper Sarfraz Ahmed elected to bowl with both teams unchanged.

Openers Danushka Gunathilaka and Dilshan Munaweera started boldly by striking Usman Khan and Imad Wasim for boundaries. Sarfraz turned to reliable Hasan Ali but Gunathilaka welcomed the pacer with a stylish whack for a maximum.

Finally, a run out brought the breakthrough and ended 43 runs partnership. Sadeera Samarawickrama joined Gunathilaka and tackled Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan and Mohammad Hafeez with ease. The duo took 13 runs from 13th over bowled by Hasan and Gunathilaka brought up his maiden T20 fifty.

Once again it was a run out which ended a partnership as Samarawickrama (32) returned after a 63-run partnership. Bowlers got among wickets as Shadab had Gunathilaka (51) caught.

New batsman Seekkuge Prasanna was also run out. Looking to push the scoring, skipper Thisara Perera perished as Sri Lanka slipped from 106 runs for 2 wickets to 111 for five.

Faheem was brought back and he turned the match with wickets of Isuru Udana, Mahela Udawatte and Vikum Sanjaya. Faheem’s three for 16 runs was the first hat-trick by a Pakistani bowler, first in the UAE and only the sixth overall.

Hasan scalped Sachith Pathirana to end Sri Lankan innings at 124 for nine wickets.

In reply, Fakhar Zaman was run out and Udana, luckily, got Babar Azam as Pakistan hit 31 for two wickets. Ahmed Shehzad carried on with few boundaries but Perera had the opener caught for 27.

The Lankan skipper then scalped Shoaib Malik to make it 55 runs for four wickets.

However, Mohammad Hafeez and Sarfraz steadied the innings but Pathirana ended the 39-run partnership.

With 25 needed off 18 balls, Perera got himself on and trapped Imad Wasim. Further drama unfolded as Sarfraz (28) was run out by a throw from Gunathilaka.

Shadad, the new batsman, struck a first-ball boundary to make it 16 off 12 balls. In the last over, he struck a straight six and hit the winning runs with a ball to spare.

Sri Lanka, with inexperienced players, had put up a creditable performance but Pakistan youngsters stood tall when it mattered.

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