Dubai Urged To Build More Affordable Houses For Expats

The government needs to introduce incentives- similar to those initiated in the hospitality sector- to boost the number of affordable homes in Dubai, an expert says.



The Dubai government should provide more incentives to local developers to persuade them to build affordable houses for expatriates in the emirate, an expert said.

“What I think would really make an impact is to introduce mandatory measures for developers to build affordable housing,” Maysa Sabah Shocair, GCC managing director of Affordable Housing Institute, a global non-profit consultancy, told Gulf Business on the sidelines of Cityscape Global.

“They (the government) introduced something this year for the development of affordable hotels and if they can do something similar for affordable housing then it might be impactful,” she said referring to the recent decree that Dubai introduced for the development of mid-range hotels.

She added that the government is already striving to make housing affordable for residents through the rent cap and RERA’s rental index but more can be done to increase the availability of cheaper homes for lower-income expats.

Affordable housing will ensure that people are not forced to pay more than 30 per cent of their income for rents, including utilities and transportation costs, Shocair said.

However, the exact amount of lower-income housing in the market is also hard to determine due to the lack of data that is available.

“The question about housing for expats is complicated since housing has been subsidised for some of them by their employers while the rates for the rest of the residential units are left to the marketplace to be determined.”

The majority of property in Dubai’s market caters to an upmarket crowd with just a handful of areas being considered affordable,” Shocair said.

One of the factors that hinders the development of affordable housing is the availability of land.

“To build affordable homes, we need land that is affordable and available. In many countries, the government provides land under the market rate to developers to build affordable houses.”

She said that similar steps in Dubai will help the housing market balance out.