Dubai real estate shows signs of recovery

12 July 2021
Latest insights from leading property consultants indicate that office rents are stabilising in Dubai, while additional hotel capacity will be added in the run up to Expo 2020

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Dubai's real estate market is showing signs of gradual recovery, according to data from leading property consultants JLL Mena and Knight Frank.

In its latest UAE Real Estate Market review, JLL emphasises that the UAE hotel market will continue "to experience signs of recovery", especially with the new supply of hotel rooms in the run up to Expo 2020 Dubai.

Dubai will add an additional 12,000 keys over the second half of 2021 to cater for increased demand and the gradual return of travel following the impact of the pandemic on the hotel industry.

JLL says the city’s new supply includes a host of four-star hotels, which makes up the majority of projects that are under construction (49 per cent), along with a number of new five-star properties (37 per cent).

“The balance between four and five star hotels comes as no surprise and is in line with Dubai’s expanding tourism base,” says Dana Salbak, head of research, Mena at JLL.

She adds: “Offering more mid-segment and affordable hotel stays without compromising on quality has been a part of Dubai’s strategy to attract visitors from various destinations and comes in light of the high visitation numbers that are anticipated for Expo."

Meanwhile, an update from Knight Frank highlights that prime headline office rents in Dubai have started to stabilise. Overall, however, rents still remain at 9-year lows, leaving occupiers firmly in the driving seat.

"The big challenge as we see it will be on how landlords and businesses will attract workers back to their desks in a meaningful way," says Faisal Durrani, partner – head of Middle East research at Knight Frank. "We know the green agenda will be core to this and is likely to influence the real estate decisions of 9 out 12 businesses in the future, so landlords are in a way being presented with a roadmap to safeguarding future demand and therefore income."

Sustainability will be an uphill task for office real estate

Knight Frank highlights that business confidence in the UAE has been a critical factor in improving conditions, with the latest PMI figures showing sustained business expansion activity for seven consecutive months, highlighting the positivity percolating through the economy as it shakes off the lingering impact of the pandemic.

In the residential segment, JLL notes that over 6,300 sales transactions have been registered in Dubai with a value of AED14.7bn. This is the highest recorded transactions in a month in terms of volume since 2014, according to the Dubai Land Department (DLD).

This supports analysis from global investment banks HSBC and Morgan Stanley, who in June 2021 said that the boost in Dubai's property market will continue for several years, propped by demand for bigger houses.

The retail segment in Dubai remains subdued. The JLL report notes that average rental rates in primary and secondary malls have declined five per cent in Dubai in the second quarter of 2021 versus the same period in 2020.

As a result, the retail market remains in favour of tenants, with landlords continuing to provide incentives such as rent-free periods and are more open to negotiating deals. There is also a continued prevalance of trends such as home-grown concepts, pop-up retail stores, and partnerships with e-commerce and delivery platforms.

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