Live: All the updates from Dubai’s biggest property show Cityscape

All the latest news and views from Dubai’s largest property exhibition



DAY 2

5:05:pm

A new $200m project with a 300-room hotel and a discovery, fitness and history-themed entertainment park has been announced on Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Marjan Island.

The ‘Santa Monica-style entertainment centre’ is the vision of UAE-based Indian investor Ivan Richard Menezes, director of United Ventures and Investments Limited.

Menezes has purchased land on the fourth island of Al Marjan Island to create the project.

Read more below

Read: New $200m ‘Santa Monica-style entertainment centre’ announced in RAK’s Al Marjan

4.30pm

It is impossible to miss the prominent and elaborate Falcon City of Wonders stand at Cityscape and the developer has finally announced progress on its pyramid projects.

The company has announced hotel management contracts for two of the seven pyramids – SAM Polaris and SAM Vega Pyramids to Oakwood Worldwide.

Vega features 1,500 units and will have 1,527 parking spots, while Polaris has 290 units and 490 parking spots.

Both will feature leisure, food and beverage and retail outlets.

Read more: Dubai’s Falcon City of Wonders signs deal with Oakwood to manage pyramid hotels

3.30pm

Some more announcements trickling in…

Nakheel has announced the sale of 147 luxury homes with private pools at its Jumeirah Park community. The four-bed units span 3,807sqft and include terraces, a rooftop area, a maid’s room, four and a half bathrooms and double garages.

Prices start from Dhs3.4m, with payment plans available, the developer said.

Read more: Dubai’s Nakheel begins sale of 147 luxury villas in Jumeirah Park

Speaking to Gulf Business yesterday, CEO Sanjay Manchanda said that there was demand for properties in the Dhs500,000 – Dhs1m range as well as in the Dhs2.5m- Dhs3.5m range – for family units.

“I think it depends on the location, the interest is there from the market,” he said.

“We believe that if the location is right and the pricing is there, we do have to provide the necessary financial support considering the fact that it is not easy to bring in such a large sum of investable funds. So the extendable payment plans is geared towards that and that has been accepted very well,” he added.

1.30pm

The UAE has seen a surge in Russian visitors since visa requirements were eased and a Moscow-based developer is now hoping to leverage that trend.

Pioneer Group, exhibiting at Cityscape, is looking for potential investors and or partners to bring its mid-market YE’S apartment-hotel brand to the UAE and the wider GCC.

Investors can expect annual returns of up to 10 per cent, according to Leonid Maksimov, chairman of the Pioneer Group.

“This format is ideal for both business and leisure visitors – long staying corporate guests as well as short stay family getaways, affording investors a regular monthly income,” he said.

Russian tourist arrivals in Dubai grew year-on-year by 74 per cent during the first half of 2018 to 405,000 and the country is now one of the emirate’s top five source markets.

“That is why YE’S is such an attractive proposition for UAE investors. Russian tourists particularly those from Moscow and St. Petersburg will recognise the brand and its value-led offering. With more and more mid-market tourists expected to arrive in the UAE from Russia, demand will be robust and sustainable,” he added.

YE’S apartment hotel in St Petersburg, Russia

11.30am

Cityscape has not seen a flood of new launches this year – which is to be expected considering the current market conditions.

But there have been announcements from several developers. Dubai Holdings revealed yesterday that it was launching Madinat Jumeirah Living – the first freehold luxury residential development in Madinat Jumeirah.

The 3.85 million sqft development comprises residential clusters, offering spacious, freehold units, all connected through shaded pedestrian walkways and jogging paths.

The project will break ground in 2019 and will be developed in phases.

10am

Good morning. Day two of Cityscape begins with a major property launch in Dubai that was announced on Monday in Deira, which is set to transform the area.

Dubai government developer Ithra revealed its plans for an extension to Deira’s historic Gold Souq under the first phase of a wider development.

The Deira Enrichment project will see 36 plots developed from the Hyatt Regency hotel to the Shindaga Tunnel.

The Gold Souq extension will comprise 176 retail units, 225 offices and 289 residences spread across 684,790 square feet.

Read more here: Dubai’s Ithra unveils Deira Gold Souq expansion

DAY 1

6.30pm

And with that we come to the end of day one. Stay tuned for updates from day two.

6:00pm

Another company feeling positive about this year’s show is Danube.

The developer has quadrupled the size of its stand for 2018, according to director and partner Atif Rahman and he says it is enjoying strong interest in its portfolio of affordable properties.

The firm’s founder Rizwan Sajan says there isn’t much of a “silver lining” in the Dubai property market generally right now but he believes the worst may be over with positive momentum to come as Expo 2020 approaches.

5:40pm

One of the day’s big announcements has been from Dubai government developer Meydan, which unveiled a waterfront community with a climate-controlled marina.

More on that here.

Read: Dubai’s Meydan launches waterfront community with climate-controlled marina

5.15pm

Sharjah’s new megaproject – the Dhs24bn Aljada development – is attracting strong interest from investors despite the stagnant prices in Dubai’s property market, according to its developer Arada.

Investors in the project so far include a mix of investors and end-users, with UAE nationals accounting for the majority of buyers, confirmed Ahmed Al Khoshaibi, the CEO of Arada.

The offering at Aljada is “unique” and also offers investors “value for money”, he told Gulf Business.

“Our prices currently match the prices in Sharjah, although what we are offering is of much higher value. But we will increase prices once we start delivering the initial phases,” he said.

The project is set to “change the look and feel” of the emirate, added Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, vice chairman of Arada.

The mixed-use project will feature residential, commercial and hospitality offerings.

Earlier today, Arada also unveiled the final masterplan of the Central Hub, the focal point of Aljada. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the Central Hub is spread across 1.9m sqft (over 25 football fields in size) and will feature lements such as an adventure gold course, a 11-screen cinema, a waterplay area, an extreme sports centre and two retail zones.

Delivered in phases starting in 2019, the entire project is expected to be completed by 2025.

5:00pm

The CEO of Dubai’s Gemini Property Developers is positive about the atmosphere at this year’s Cityscape, where the firm is displaying its first completed development and its upcoming one, the Symphony Tower in Business Bay.

But he suggests current payment plans being offered by developers in the damper market are not necessarily hitting the right notes.

“It’s not something that we want to offer as an organisation. We as a developer are looking at producing, delivery and developing a quality product at the right price.”

“It’s more about being competitively priced than it is about offering these long-term payments. I think people are more interested in developers that develop and deliver as opposed to just the best financing.”

Looking to the future, the developer is aiming to break out of its niche and compete with some of the larger players on the market.

“We are not competing yet with some of the large guys,” he said. “But in the future where we can compete on price and size we will.”

3.25pm

Dubai developer Nakheel has seen a  good response to the launch of sales at its Dragon Towers on Sunday, CEO Sanjay Manchanda has said.

“The product was well-received because of the good location,” he told Gulf Business.

Located in Dubai’s Dragon City, the Dhs713m Dragon Towers project includes two 37-storey buildings – each with 571 one- and two-bedroom apartments.

Units are prices from Dhs449,000 onwards.

(Read more: Dubai’s Nakheel launches Dragon Towers units for sale, priced from Dhs449,000)

The company will continue to launch new projects when they feel the “time is right”, he said.

When asked about the Palm Jebel Ali project, Manchanda reiterated that it remains a long-term development, but that there was no immediate plans to restart it.

He also confirmed that there were no immediate plans for an IPO.

3:00pm

Another look at the show floor. There are certainly crowds although not the queues to enter the halls seen earlier.

2:40pm

“At the moment the market is soft and cost of acquisition has gone up for all developers but it’s all the behaviour patterns of a mature real estate market,” says Damac SVP of marketing and communications Niall McLoughlin.

However, he insists the firm is “still selling” by identifying gaps in the market in terms of proposition and price.

“The market is still there but you have to be fitter, you have to be lean, you have to be dynamic and have the right product, the right place and right combination of payment plans and pricing.”

He said Damac would welcome a relaxing of mortgage rules but suggests there could be different down payment requirements for market segments.

“If you’re looking at a very high end property the percentage should be lower,” he said. “I think 10 per cent loan-to-value.”

The Damac official believes the market has now bottomed out but argues that future growth will be more constrained than that seen in the boom years.

“We think we’re at the bottom now,” he explained. “It’s not going to be double-digit growth in one to three years.”

1:00pm

The $5bn Heart of Europe project is seeing strong investor interest, with European investors even “questioning why the prices are so low”, according to Josef Kleindienst, the chairman of the Kleindienst Group – which is developing the project.

Located at the World Islands in Dubai, the project includes floating seahorses and massive Swedish palaces.

“We are the only developer that is still able to increase the prices from October since there is strong demand,” he tells Gulf Business

Read: Pictures: Kleindienst unveils first Sweden Beach Palace on Dubai’s World islands

He also believes that there is huge opportunity for the second homes market in Dubai and that the property market should bring in more overseas investors.

12:50pm

John Stevens, managing director of property management firm Asteco, says this Cityscape is the first since 2010 that the firm has not had a stand. In a potential sign of the changing market he indicated the days of holding projects to launch at the event may now be over and it was no longer the “feeding frenzy” it once was.

“We’ve been telling our clients its not necessarily right to launch [here],” he explained.

Stevens said price and rental rate reductions seen in the UAE in recent years in part reflected a push from the government side to introduce more supply and make the country more affordable.

On other market topics, he said he has been encouraged by announcements from the UAE government this year about long-term and retirement visas, but the current terms of the latter – which include either a real estate investment worth Dhs2m ($544,510), financial savings of more than Dhs1m ($272,255) or proof of income of more than Dhs20,000 ($5,445) a month – meant many current long-term expats would not qualify.

Read: UAE’s new retirement visa to help boost Dubai’s property market

In terms of a potential easing of mortgage rules, he suggested the move would be welcomed by the market but the timing may not be ideal as many recent mortgage buyers had been left in negative equity by slumping sales prices.

One alternative could be to open the mortgage market to “foreign banks” he suggested.

Finally, on market performance the firm has indicated the current slump in the Dubai property market will continue into early next year linked to new supply and market conditions.

Read: UAE sees rents, sales prices decline across the country in Q3 – Asteco

Looking towards Expo, he expects a “huge impact” in terms of raising the profile of the UAE and bringing in more investors who may not have come here.

But he cautions: “I think it will increase the levels of demand but we still have a lot of supply coming that needs to be absorbed.”

11.30am

A quick walk through the halls led us through the exhibits of most of the major UAE developers. One of Dubai’s biggest developers is however not attending for the second year in a row. Emaar, which didn’t attend the event last year, said the move was part of its plan to “move the complete marketing strategy on digital platforms.”

11:08am


The main show floor is now slowly filling up amid tight security.

11:02am:

Matthew Gregory, head of sales for property at listings site dubizzle, said one of the key messages from the Real Estate Regulatory Agency at the Cityscape Conference yesterday was the need for developers to deliver on their promises in terms of handovers.

In an interview, he explained that many of the announcements this year, including 10-year and retirement visas should be positive for the market. While even the government REST portal announced earlier this year that will limit the role of some agents could be a positive in terms of facilitating faster transactions, he suggested.

“Having spoke to a few of our key clients they feel there is an opportunity here to make things faster,” he said.

However, he also believes the need for agents is unlikely to disappear given the number of offline services they provide.

“From an agent’s perspective they are there to provide a service, that service can’t be done online.

More broadly, he sees current conditions, which have seen prices and rents drop in recent years, as a positive.

“The softening of prices is giving people the chance to invest,” he said, citing dubizzle data showing the previously premium Palm Jumeirah is now one of the site’s top three searches for users looking to buy a villa.

Read: Dubai gov real estate platform aims to cut out agents

10:05am


A picture of the crowds on their way to the exhibition this morning.

9.30am:

Dubai’s biggest property exhibition, Cityscape opens today amidst a stagnant phase in the emirate’s real estate industry.

The value of property transactions in the first half of the year fell 15.9 per cent compared to the same period in 2017 from Dhs132bn ($35.93bn) to Dhs111bn ($30.2bn), according to data from the Dubai Land Department (DLD).

Property brokers in the emirate also earned 30 per cent less in commission in the first half of 2018 than they did in the same period last year, the DLD said.

Read more: Dubai property transactions drop in the first half of 2018

Dubai property agents see 30% drop in commissions in H1

Residential rental rates in Dubai fell as much as 8.3 per cent over the last three months, according to a market report by listings site Bayut.com.

Read more here: Dubai apartment rents down as much as 8.3% in Q3

However, the emirate is continuing to see new project announcements.

On Monday, Abu Dhabi Capital Group-owned developer Imkan announced the launch of a new Dhs15bn master project located in Ghantoot between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The company said AlJurf, located on the Sahel Al Emarat riviera, was designed as a second-home destination. It will span 370 hectares and 3.4km of beachfront spread across thee districts. (Read more here)

Dubai’s Union Properties also announced a new Dhs2.5bn ($680.6m) development within its Motor City master project. The Avenue District, which forms part of the second phase of Motor City, spans 2 million square feet and includes the One Avenue Mall – a 1 million sqft retail and entertainment centre. (Read more here)

While we might see more announcements today, we will also bring you all the industry views on where the market is headed. And nice, colourful pictures of the big projects.