Dubai Pearl, which will combine an active business district with a quality urban lifestyle, will host a Baccarat Hotel and Residences. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Cannes: Dubai's "build and they will come" model is in a state of flux, as the emirate is on the path from an emerging economy to a global business hub, one of its key developers said.

Santhosh Joseph, president of Dubai Pearl FZ LLC, the developer of the recently revived $4 billion (Dh14.68 billion) Pearl project, said Dubai's property sector weakness had been exaggerated by those who had little or no first-hand insight into the market.

First to return

"My firm belief is that the same people who are talking down Dubai will be among the first people to come back," he said in an interview on the sidelines of the MIPIM real estate trade fair at Cannes.

"I believe that by 2012, the troubles of 2009 will be forgotten. It is a young city, and like a young human being, it must suffer growing pains," he said.

In less than 60 years, Dubai has evolved from barren desert into one of the world's most-developed urban landscapes, studded with one mega-project after another, including vast skyscrapers and man-made islands visible from outer space.

Joseph's team restarted construction of the 20-million square feet Dubai Pearl project earlier this month, reflecting confidence in Dubai's post-crisis market.

The Pearl developer, which is backed by a consortium of investors led by Abu Dhabi's Al Fahim Group, has tweaked old designs to create a more environmentally-sensitive project, which it said marked a "new era" in the evolution of Dubai.