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Dubai shopping fest to begin from December 26

It was good news all around for shopping enthusiasts on Thursday, as the dates for the hugely popular Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) were announced.

Come December 26, the city’s malls will pave the way for the pitter-patter of thousands of feet as the month-long extravaganza transforms the city with pop-up fashion shows, fireworks displays, and mega sales.

UAE and Malta to boost trade

President of the Republic of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, said her four-day working visit to the UAE, which ended on Thursday, has resulted in bolstering the trade and economic partnerships between the UAE and her country.

In an exclusive interview, Preca noted that a joint commission will be created to explore and identify the potential business areas the two countries can collaborate.

“There are a number of opportunities that have been identified but they need further explorations to develop the potential for trade and business,” she said.

“During the meetings I had in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there were great interest and mutual political will. We are looking forward to ensure this will come into fruition by bringing together a joint commission to work on a number of areas that have been identified by both sides,” she added.

Preca noted that one area of collaboration will be in shipping. “We have a state-of-the-art free port in Malta,” she said.

Then, there’s aviation as well. “We are very pleased that Emirates airline has agreed to code-share with Air Malta. We already have other code-sharing but this one will further enhance the arrangement to include more routes so we can boost not just the tourism industry but also our business sector that requires easy travel and connectivity,” Preca said.

“Through the code-sharing we can also increase tourism to both Malta and the UAE from countries in the Far East like China and Japan,” she added.

Other potential collaboration between the UAE and Malta will be in ICT (Information and Communications Technology) through smart city projects.

Preca underlined that her country is very keen in attracting investors from the UAE. She said that an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation has been put in place to create a proper and friendly business infrastructure.

She added that Malta is also at the forefront of blockchain technology. “Malta is a blockchain island with strong legislation providing transparency and legal certainty. We hope that the UAE will also be interested in collaborating with us in this evolving sector.”

Lower real estate prices have levelled the playing field

The soft market conditions in Dubai aren’t deterring developers from launching blue-ribbon projects.

The 17th edition of Cityscape Global 2018, which concluded on Thursday, has seen some big launches – the Madinat Jumeirah Living by Dubai Holding, Marsa Meydan by the Meydan Group and ‘Riviera of the Emirates’ project by Abu Dhabi-based Imkan Properties. However, developers are weaving in an element of affordability in these luxury projects by adding more apartments to the mix.

“Developers are offering units across the whole spectrum in their projects. It’s not just about the three-bed penthouses any more. A luxury developer like the Select Group has a majority of studios and one-bedroom apartments in their Dubai Marina project,” says Matt Gregory, head of sales for property at dubizzle.

According to market sources, a one-bedroom apartment at Madinat Jumeirah Living is priced at Dh1.68 million, a two-bedroom at Dh2.05 million and a three-bedroom at Dh2.78 million.

While Dubai property was once considered to be the bastion of the uber-rich, softening property prices have levelled the playing field and made real estate more affordable for end-users as well.

“Dubai wouldn’t be Dubai if there were no launches of some luxury projects. Prices and rents will continue to fall, more so for the luxury sector. But there is not that much further to decline, we’re getting near the bottom. Prices will continue to fall simply because of the products being launched. The only way developers can clear all that inventory is by cutting costs,” observes Craig Plumb, head of research for the Mena at JLL.

End-users who plan to stay in the country longer and are currently paying monthly rents between Dh120,000 to Dh150,000 are thinking of using that money as a downpayment to purchase property in the UAE. The recently proposed residency reforms are also encouraging expatriates to shift from their transient mindset.

For instance, dubizzle says that three-bedroom villas on Palm Jumeirah, which was once considered out of bounds for a majority of the population living in Dubai, is now one among the most searched properties for sale in the emirate.

“In the super-premium segment, there is a smaller number of people who invest in uber-luxury property. A lot of the investment is coming from overseas. The Chinese market is quite hot now. Emaar hiring Chinese brokers is a testament to demand from that market,” Ann Boothello, director of marketing at dubizzle, points out.

“It’s very much a buyer’s market; people can negotiate and get deals,” adds Gregory. Although there has been talk for the past few years that Dubai’s luxury property market is close to bottoming out, there are certain sub-markets where there is room for prices to fall further.

“In certain markets, this is certainly close to the bottom, however, there is still some room for prices to decrease. In locations such as the Palm Jumeirah villa market, we are seeing that the market is very much there [or there about] and as a result, we are seeing the market begin to pick up in terms of transactions,” says Taimur Khan, research manager at Knight Frank.

“We are at the bottom of the cycle. As the supply/demand matrix stabilises, we will see a return to steady measured growth,” observes Jason Hayes, founder and CEO of Luxury Property.

Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lakes Towers and JVC/JVT have a lot of attraction for end-users as well as off-plan buyers. The market in Downtown has slowed a bit.

“Investors are looking at B and C locations for investments as the returns are higher than in prime locations. End-users are still seeking properties in prime locations such as Downtown and the Palm for secondary and Dubai Hills for off-plan,” adds Daniel Garofoli, luxury sales specialist at Luxhabitat.

“In terms of off-plan sales, beachfront apartments on the Palm Jumeirah have continued to be popular, primarily in developments such as the Alef, One Palm and Royal Atlantis. The villas at XXII Carat have also proven to be popular with buyers. Secondary villas sales have been strong in areas such as Al Barari, Arabian Ranches II and District One,” says Hayes.

If the unit is correctly priced, then it sees good levels of demand, whereas overpriced units will tend to have much longer marketing periods. “More so in areas where we are expecting an influx of supply such as Downtown Dubai, we are seeing greater discounts being achieved compared to the marketing price,” elaborates Khan.

Some properties are sitting on the market for a longer period as sellers keep a bottom line in mind that they don’t want to move from.

“Sellers are willing to come down in prices little more now and take a hit, which is a great sign as they see that their market moves sidewards, but not down. So, in order to shift a property quick, it’s required to come closer to a serious buyer’s offer,” adds Garofoli.

 

Why buyer interest in property will continue to rise

Sobha Realty, the recently rebranded property developer, said it is right on track to achieve a target of doubling annual sales to Dh2.5 billion in three years on the back of an upturn in investor confidence subsequent to a series of pro-investor reforms unveiled by the government.

P.N.C. Menon, founder and chairman of the multinational real estate and construction giant, said while investor/buyer sentiment would continue to rise in the wake of such pro-growth reforms, stimulus measures and initiatives, including long-term residency laws for property buyers and investors, oil price hike is brightening the region’s economic prospects.

Speaking to sources at the Sobha stand at Cityscape Global Exhibition, he insisted that there was no way prices could go down any further.

“It is inevitable that the market has to bounce back with demand from new customer segments expected to grow in the coming months.” Cityscape Global, which has lined up over 300 developers, architects and brokers showcasing an array of projects, reflects this rising optimism among builders and buyers, he said.

Menon, who made a foray into Dubai property market in 2005 after making his mark in Oman, launched two iconic projects in the heart of the city in 2013: Sobha Hartland, a $4 billion mixed-use luxury project that includes villas, townhouses and apartments; and District One, a joint venture with Meydan Group, which is an $8 billion project encompassing 1,500 ultra-luxury villas.

The brand transition to Sobha Realty from Sobha Group is aimed at repositioning the developer’s long-enduring image as a builder “with a legacy of craft and passion for perfection”, said Menon, who has designed and built a host of iconic palaces and hundred of luxurious villas.

He said the new brand identity “draws from the world of arts and attempts to embody the fact that we are a brand that was home grown in this very part of the world – the GCC region”.

In India, Sobha continues to be at the forefront of executing consistent quality and on-time delivery. Sobha has a presence in 24 cities and 13 states across India, and is the country’s third largest developer in terms of total square feet delivered and is the world’s only backward integrated real estate company.

UAE companies bank on creativity, innovation to lure and retain talent

Globally, over 55 per cent of workers say that they would like to be more creative in their job, yet face several barriers that limit their progress, new research by Steelcase has found. The research revealed that 37 per cent of workers said that the biggest hindrance to workplace creativity is organisational process. In addition, 36 per cent pointed to existing workloads as a barrier to them being more creative in their roles.

Other factors which employees identified as being barriers included working in an uninspiring space at 20 per cent, outdated technology at 20 per cent, and a lack of guidance and permission to be creative at 19 per cent.

“Innovation is key for future sustainable business, with the companies that provide spaces and foster a culture that supports the workforce to collaborate and innovate will gain market competitiveness,” she said. “In the face of the disruptive digital economy, UAE organisations need to stay relevant by transforming their human resources from business advisors into strategic partners that can drive business outcomes. UAE organisations must be ready to build a workplace culture where employees have buy-in and can find greater purpose to their jobs.”

She further explained that creativity and innovation are major parts of the corporate culture, which job-seekers look for – though not the only one.

“In order to meet a job-seeker’s needs today, UAE organisations should take a three-pronged approach to becoming innovation-led and creativity-led organisations: instilling in employees a sense of purpose, developing cross-generational intelligence in the workplace and establishing a culture of coaching and performance feedback.”

Ready property spaces are the real(ty) winners

Ready space was the clear winner at Cityscape Global 2018, with developers focusing more on clearing their existing inventories rather than launching more grandiose off-plan schemes.

Buyers were offered generous incentives on ready-to-move-in and close-to-completion properties such as a waiver of service charges (sometimes even extending up to 10 years), price discounts and waiver of the 4 per cent Dubai Land Department registration fees.

Nakheel has taken the lead in offering such incentives for its ready villas in Al Furjan. The developer’s offer to pay 5 per cent as down payment to move in now and pay the remaining over 10 years has seen great take-up among buyers. This is also endorsed by the year-to-date transaction figures provided by GCP-Reidin.

The volume of sales of ready villas at Al Furjan is up a whopping 143 per cent in the first nine months of 2018 compared to last year. This is also true for the rest of the ready property market in Dubai, which saw 8,730 units registered with the DLD from January to September end this year as compared to 9,197 homes last year, down only five per cent, according to GCP-Reidin data.

Dubai Sports City ready apartments also performed well, with the volume of sales up 14 per cent this year. This could be because secondary developers are getting creative with incentives to sell their ready stock. Ready villas in Arabian Ranches and Jumeirah Park also seem to be resonating among buyers this year.

Meanwhile, off-plan home sales are down 30 per cent in the first nine months of this year – only 12,812 units were registered year-to-date in 2018 compared to 18,359 in 2017. Developers seem to have maxed out the post-completion payment plans for offplan properties at a time when price-conscious buyers are seeking immediate savings on ready properties. Jumeirah Village Circle put up a relatively better performance in off-plan sales this year compared to other freehold clusters such as Downtown and Town Square.

Dubai has registered off-plan sales worth Dh16.48 billion year to date, down 38 per cent from the Dh26.66 billion in 2017, data reveals. On the contrary, ready properties worth Dh14.93 billion have been registered from January to the end of September 2018, down a mere eight per cent from the Dh16.28 billion in 2017.

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