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Cityscape’s Chris Speller reveals the trends shaping Dubai’s property market and plans for the emirate’s biggest property exhibition
“The feedback that we are getting is incredibly positive,” says Speller. “For the physical event, we’re working not just with all the local developers, but we’re also reaching out to all the international pavilions [at Expo 2020] who are already exhibiting to say, ‘Listen, you’ve got your own representation, so bring it into the Cityscape and talk about the real estate’. Expo is not about commercialising properties, but Cityscape is one of the only opportunities for private entities to actually have the opportunity to sell. So that’s the physical element,” he states.
Cityscape participants can also use AI-powered tech to link with government bodies, potential buyers, investors, industry suppliers such as architects, designer and financial services as well as new partners before, during, and after the live event.
“So one of the things we’ve never done in the past – and this is where that hybrid ability comes in – is that anybody who registers for Cityscape will then have their information taken, where the developers can log on and see what that individual is looking to actually do,” says Speller.
“A lot of times, the feedback that we get from our developers is that while Cityscape has always provided a fantastic platform to be introduced to a new investor, a lot of the sales happen after the show itself. What this allows people to do is interact on those virtual forums and continue that sales process. But also for those who can’t be there physically, they can still have the same feeling and the same opportunity to see all the projects and to reach out and speak to a sales manager.
”With the local real estate market in Dubai currently seeing greater investor interest from abroad, Speller stresses that everyone will now have more transparency about the market.“So the show stops from being a five-day solution to actually a 45-day one,” he adds.
The residential property market in the UAE has now matured significantly and can be better defined as a ‘frontier market’. “So a frontier market is where residential perhaps becomes more of a byproduct of a successful economy,” explains Speller.
“We are privileged within the UAE to be residents here – based on the fact that we are employed. Now the country’s starting to change that opportunity. We’re seeing the opportunity for people to start to retire here. That percentage is still small, but that’s a growing opportunity. And that’s why it’s a frontier sort of position.
“So what we are seeing now is that if the economy is strong, if the jobs are strong, if there is a continued opportunity, then that will feed all the rest of the elements – your retail, your commercial, and your residential – as a successive byproduct of everything else,” Speller says.
Looking ahead, the Covid situation has had a significant impact on the real estate trends for the future, as demands have changed.“A lot of the investors that we have seen over the Covid period are those who have gone- ‘I live in an apartment, and my apartment has gone from where I reside, to my school, to my gym, to my place of work, all under one roof’. And when they see a reduction in the price of a villa, they think ‘Why don’t I invest in that?’. So still, that opportunity for the residential is seeing great growth, because we are starting to see a change in the mechanism of how people actually live, how people want to live and how they want to use their space,” says Speller.
He also stresses that every residential real estate market – globally – will always witness fluctuations in prices. However, the depth of fluctuation is expected to settle in the Dubai market following a disparity between the supply and demand in recent years.
“I think we will start seeing that spike or that decline, all those fluctuations start to level out and I think that’ll come towards the end of this year and moving into 2022. We’re starting to see a lot more stability back into the markets.”