Villa in Sobha Hartland. The developer was among those that joined a series of roadshows by the DLD in China last year Image Credit: Supplied

The Chinese are now increasingly looking at the UAE as a long-term destination to reside and work. Last year Chinese investors were among the top four foreign nationalities who invested in Dubai real estate, alongside Indians, Britons and Pakistanis, according to reports from the Dubai Land Department (DLD). If Dubai recorded Dh162 billion worth of real estate transactions in the first nine months of 2018, investors from China accounted for Dh1.7 billion of the total. In fact, the recent visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to the UAE further strengthened the relationship between the two countries as strategic trade and tourism partners. As UAE gets ready to play a significant role in China’s Silk Road initiative that will boost investment and trade between Europe and Asia, its reputation as a safe haven from global political strife, its attractive yields, great lifestyle and infrastructure have attracted Chinese investors to the emirate.

Last year Dubai successfully participated in the Chinese Luxury Property Show in Beijing and in the next few months the DLD will be stepping up efforts to attract at least Dh1 billion in property investment. Last year also saw Meraas, in collaboration with Dubai Holding, launching Hala China, a brand-new initiative to showcase Dubai and the UAE to Chinese tourists as part of Dubai Tourism Vision 2020 strategy. The plans catering to Chinese visitors focused on elements such as stay, shop, eat, play, explore, wellness and concierge. This has been a unique opportunity to share the story of Dubai with an increasingly mobile Chinese audience, a whole new generation of entrepreneurs, business travellers and investors.

We estimate that Chinese investments in Sobha projects to touch Dh600 million by the end of 2019. This comes on the back of surging demand for luxury real estate projects in Dubai in the run-up to Expo 2020, coupled with the government’s investor-friendly regulations.

- Jyotsna Hegde, president, Sobha Realty

DLD push

Last year the DLD led 11 roadshows to China on behalf of developers, including Dubai’s Emaar, Abu Dhabi-based Bloom Holding, Deyaar, Sobha Real Estate and Dubai Sports City. After Emaar and Damac, Sobha Realty has now announced its foray into China with the opening of its first sales office in Shanghai. This news comes close on the heels of a record 200 per cent increase in Chinese investments in the first two months of the year compared with 2018, in the Sobha Hartland project along the Dubai Canal. “We estimate that Chinese investments in Sobha projects to touch Dh600 million by the end of 2019,” said Jyotsna Hegde, president of Sobha Realty. “This comes on the back of surging demand for luxury real estate projects in Dubai in the run-up to Expo 2020, coupled with the government’s investor-friendly regulations.”

Ease of business

Fidu Properties, one of the growing number of Chinese players in Dubai’s property market, has clocked sales close to Dh730 million last year, although it started operations in Dubai only in January 2018. Nazish Khan, COO of Fidu, says it was Dubai’s ecosystem that got them into the city in the first place.

Dubai has been one of the best investment destinations for the Chinese. This city offers an infrastructure that is second to none.

- Nazish Khan, COO, Fidu

“Dubai has been one of the best investment destinations for the Chinese,” said Khan. “This city offers an infrastructure that is second to none. There is ease of doing business, high rental yields, probably one of the highest in the world, a peaceful environment, thriving tourism sector, and a growing economy. Moreover, the presence of the Chinese community is highly respected and appreciated in Dubai.”

According to Khan, Chinese investors usually choose prime locations with high income returns, quality products and brands. “The Dubai Creek Harbour, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid City, DIFC and Downtown Burj Khalifa have been popular areas for their clients from China in the last year,” he says. “As the Chinese purchasing power grows, it automatically impacts the UAE economy in a positive way through the creation of new business opportunities. It’s the Chinese expertise and way of doing business that will have a significant impact. We hope to see more Chinese giants investing in Dubai, not only in contracting, but trade, construction, infrastructure, tourism, energy, real estate and retail.”

He said these sectors continue to attract Chinese businesses and investors. Chinese contractors, in particular, are well represented in Dubai’s construction market, securing a large share of mega projects in the run-up to the Expo 2020 Dubai. “At present, there are over 4,000 Chinese enterprises in the UAE, including large state-owned enterprises with global influence as well as small and medium enterprises and self-employed enterprises in Dragon Mart in Dubai,” said Khan.