How have the past 12 months been for Al Ruwad Real Estate? What have been the main successes and challenges, and how has the company maintained its position amid economic headwinds?
“Al Ruwad has operated in the market for the past six years, and we have identified lessons learned from past failures on how to advance during financially unstable times. So we were prepared to withstand challenges such as a fall in prices, unforeseen costs, and so on.
“We were able to make a realistic assessment of the business environment and pinpoint the company’s position in this environment, deciding on a strategy. I believe we managed to stay afloat and navigate these challenges successfully.
“Amid oversupply fears, decrease in prices and high competition, Al Ruwad has managed to position itself in the front line of land sellers in Dubai, capitalising on a lesser exploited niche of real estate industry, while the main focus remained on the off-plan sales and secondary market.”
How confident are you in the region’s real estate sector at present? What are the most encouraging signs for the sector?
“Approaching the third quarter of 2019, I can confirm that this year will also be a buyers’ year with prices on decline, incentives such as no commission, no DLD fee, lengthy payment plans and discounts offered by all developers. This will lead to great opportunities for both investors and end users alike.
“I believe that one of the most encouraging signs for the real estate sector is the current interest from international investors, especially Chinese nationals who are expected to increase their investment up to 70 per cent this year.
“Moreover, Dubai has emerged as the most affordable city on premium property prices among global competitors, making it 14.5 per cent cheaper than Hong Kong, London and New York, with an average price of $625 per square foot ($6,729 per square metre). When you add in the world-class infrastructure, premium healthcare and education facilities on offer, as well as the 25 million visitors expected by 2020, it is easy to see why Dubai has become a major foreign investment attraction.”
Where do you see the biggest opportunities for real estate in the region? Are there any underserved segments? Untapped communities? Innovations that could boost the sector?
“When it comes to overall property investments in Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina and Downtown Dubai remain favorite in the eyes of investors, with other areas like Jumeirah Village Circle and Arabian Ranches becoming popular too.
“In terms of emerging communities with great investment potential, I would add Dubai Creek Harbour, Port De La Mer, Emaar Beachfront, Dubai Holding’s Madinat Jumeirah Living, Bluewaters Island and Dubai Hills Estate for luxury living.
“In the affordable segment, communities like Dubai South, Arjan, and Dubai Production City hold good opportunities as well.
“Of course, real estate investing does not only refer to residential or commercial properties. Investing in healthcare, education, hospitality sectors also provide long term returns.
“Regarding innovations that could boost the real estate sector, they are a must, as even a traditional industry such as real estate has to change and modernise.
“In my view, the future of real estate is directly linked to innovation. Innovation starts with getting people to start using technology for the better. Big data, artificial intelligence, flexible work spaces, environmental construction, 3D printing, virtual reality and sustainability – to just name a few of the new technologies – are vital for the development of real estate in the future.”
How is this technology affecting the way Al Ruwad works? What benefits has new tech brought the company and the customer? Have there also been any challenges?
“Al Ruwad is an active user of digital technologies through its marketing and social media efforts to stay ahead of the competition. We are aiming to become accessible for any customer regardless of their location, to give the customers a platform to engage and collaborate, to make them an active part of our business.
“We look at our customers as our partners rather than our clients and we strive to provide professional services and helpful advice when needed. On our social media pages, we don’t act as advertisers, we act as publishers, constantly feeding the public with useful information, blogs and articles on the real estate sector in Dubai.
“Of course, embarking on the new territory of digital, transformative and disruptive technologies comes with many trials and errors, but we are trying our best to keep pace.”
How encouraged are you by government initiatives to boost real estate in the UAE? What impact do you foresee these having?
The UAE government has been actively helping the real estate sector with a number of initiatives, such as a 10-year residency visa, five-year retiree visa, short-stay transit visa, 100 per cent business ownership, and the gold card system.
“While all these new moves are unlikely to cause an immediate effect in the sector, the sentiment is positive among the investors and entrepreneurs, helping to stimulate new demand.
“These strategic initiatives are aiming to contribute to the economy in the long run, encouraging business owners and investors to make Dubai their permanent home. Dubai has seen a 7.6 per cent growth on average in its population in the past five years, and its population is expecting to increase by 3.2 million by 2021. While we might not be able to quantify yet the positive impact of these initiatives, the benefit will be visible on the course of the next years.”
What trends do you believe will have the most impact on real estate?
“I believe prices will continue to decline further in 2019, with a sign of stabilisation in 2020 and slight recovery in 2021, as it might take some time for the oversupply to be absorbed in the market.
“According to the latest data, 22,000 units were delivered in Dubai in 2018 – the highest number in the past five years, with the residential supply expected to reach 637,000 units by the end of 2020. This trend has brought home buyers back to Dubai. Traditionally, the Dubai expats preferred renting to owning, but this mentality is changing as a result of attractive payment plans, mortgage facilities, affordable housing developments, the construction of new family-friendly communities, and so on.”
Do you have any growth plans for Al Ruwad in the year ahead?
“As a business, we are on a constant path of learning and growing, and we are always looking at ways to improve and expand our services, as well as extending our market reach.
“Understanding our customers and improving our customer service, maximizing social media and the professional development of our employees are the main concerns for last the quarters of 2019.”