Shades of Boom Era at Dubai Property Show

Shades of Boom Era at Dubai Property Show

Residential News » Middle East and Africa Residential News Edition | By WPJ Staff | October 7, 2013 2:37 PM ET

The Cityscape Global property show opens in Dubai Tuesday amid a wave of flashy project announcements and concerns that a new bubble is forming in UAE real estate.

Once one of the biggest property shows in the world, the Dubai show experienced steep drops in attendance and interest in the wake of the post-2008 market collapse, when prices dropped more than 50 percent.

But organizers report the number of exhibitors for the 2013 edition is up 30 percent from a year ago, to 223, and property companies have reserved more than 25,000-square-meters of floor space, a 50 percent increase from a year ago.

"You're finding a lot of especially Dubai companies that have taken larger spaces and a lot of developers that have not been at the show either ever before or have been absent for a few years when the market was obviously in a more challenging phase," Wouter Molman, Cityscape's exhibition director, told Dow Jones.

In a sign of the boom days of old, the show will include announcements about the type of large-scale projects that once were part of everyday life in Dubai, but were absent from recent Cityscape shows.

The list of new developments that will be discussed during Cityscape includes:

  • U.S.-based Crystal Lagoons says it will build the world's largest man-made lagoon, a 40-hectare project that will be part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid City project, which is expected to include more than 100 hotels, the world's largest shopping mall and a theme park.
  • The Indian group Sobha is teaming with Dubai-based Meydan to market the first phase of MBR, District One, which will include 1,500 luxury villas on 1,100 acres, set around the lagoon.
  • Al Habtoor Group is planning a $3 billion complex with more than 3,000 hotel and residential. The project will include two penthouses the company is valuing at $250 million each.
  • Damac Properties says it will build 100 luxury mansions under the Trump brand, as part of its Akoya development. The Trump Estates will overlook the Trump International Golf Club, which was announced earlier this year.
  • Mag Group will announce almost $1 billion worth of residential and commercial developments, including what the developer describes as the largest M-shaped residential building.
  • Dubai Holding and Emaar Properties are relaunching The Lagoons, a 6-million-square-meter project that will be part of Mohammed Bin Rashid City. The project was originally launched in 2006.

But this show will also confront a variety of issues facing the industry, including talk that a bubble is forming in the market. Apartment prices are up 42 percent in the last year, property agency Asteco said last week.
A report released last week by Jones Lang LaSalle said the recent home prices increases are "unsustainable," but predicted prices will continue to rise for at least another year.

At the same time, the government has been taking steps to reduce the number of speculators in the market and provide more legal security for buyers. In addition to the new projects, Cityscape attendees will be looking for signs that investors, developers and consumers will be protected in the new building surge.

Video: Cityscape Global 2012

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