When Dubai’s Burj Khalifa opened in early 2010, it marked the end of high-rise construction in the emirate. By the time the first visitors ascended the world’s tallest tower, Dubai’s property market had collapsed and virtually all planned high-rise projects had been scrapped.

One scheme that never made it off the drawing board was the 96-storey Burj al-Fattan that was tendered in early 2009. In the three years that followed, it seemed unlikely that the project would ever re-emerge.

This summer, however, Al-Fattan Properties approached contractors to build a new and redesigned project, known as the Al-Fattan Crystal, on the same site. Although confidence was improving in the emirate at the time, many considered the tender to be a fanciful throwback to the past. Since then, confidence levels have continued to rise and, after receiving bids in early November, the local developer moved quickly to award the construction contract.

Where Dubai leads, others tend to follow, and developers in Abu Dhabi are currently tendering schemes such as the Fairmont and Hard Rock hotels. Further afield in Qatar, the Lusail Real Estate Development Company has approached contractors to build a tower at the Doha Convention Centre Development.

The challenge for them now is to follow Al-Fattan’s example and quickly award construction contracts. If that happens, then real and sustained recovery will move closer to becoming a reality.