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Dubai’s master-developers ditch the short-term

With Jumeirah Central and Emaar South, the rules of the game have changed

Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/ Gulf News Archive
People view scale models of Al Habtoor City at Cityscape Global 2015. The latest edition of Cityscape Global opens at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre today.
Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai’s master developers are done with short-term strategies. Even a medium-term outlook is passe.

Within the last 72 hours, Dubai realty has lifted the curtain on two mega-developments — Jumeirah Central and Emaar South — and where the completion timeline has been left open.

A point that Mohammad Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar, hinted indirectly at on Monday: “We are taking on a project today not knowing what the future city will look like,” he said at the launch of Emaar South, a massive affordable-themed community that will be one of the prongs of the 145 square kilometre Dubai South master-development.

Just 24 hours before that, Morgan Parker, chief operating officer of Jumeirah Central, said the $20 billion (Dh73.45 billion) development will move in sync with the ebbs and flows of market cycles, but not be dictated by such movements.

And both developments confirmed their intention to have future users both live and work within. All of their work-life requirements will be met at that very spot or within a few metres thereof.

Clearly, Dubai’s master developers are thinking long term as they step out to redraw the city on what the future might have in store. It is against this backdrop that the latest edition of Cityscape Global opens at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre on Tuesday.

“We are seeing a radical shift in thinking from the master-developers in Dubai … and the others will follow soon,” said Talal Al Gaddah, CEO of MAG Property Development. “This is what happens when a master-developer launches a two-bedroom villa for Dh700,000.

“No longer will the only option for a salaried resident be a Dh2 million, two-bedroom apartment. The latest moves are about building for the employee and not just investors. The change this brings about will be huge — it’s reaching out to the heart of the human.

For its part, MAG Property is working on a second project in Dubai South.

“Our intention will be to offer a range of properties from mid-range and higher. No longer will it be about starting up and then going down,” said Al Gaddah.

It was at Cityscape Global that Dubai committed to pushing the city’s limits towards the south, with whatever gets built in and around Dubai South being the catalyst for the transition. And it will be more than just about creating attractions to host the Expo 2020.

“It’s hard to compare Dubai South to any other location given the sheer size,” said Sameer Lakhani, Managing Director of Global Capital Partners. “The Emaar launch will likely stimulate both investor interest and developer launches in the next two to three years.

“With price points being competitive, it appears as if — finally — the mid-market is getting attention. We expect launches to accelerate as well as buying interest to increase as attention now moves to this area.”

With the series of launches since Saturday, Dubai has kicked into the proverbial higher gear in preparing for the Expo 2020 event but even well beyond that.

Each of Nakheel’s recent contracts have centred around creating living spaces embedded to a community. This is taking them to locations as far apart as Deira, Nad Al Sheba and Jebel Ali.

And, today’s developers are quite comfortable with the longer haul that creating a leased portfolio requires. No longer is there an obsession with preaching “sold out” status on every freehold launch. In many ways, the interest in leasing is a realisation that a substantial part of the Dubai property market will remain skewed towards renting.

The hope in industry circles is that the latest announcements will get private developers to change their game accordingly.

Or would they wait until the current downturn subsides completely before they hit the “revive” button?

Cityscape Global 2016 can drop a few hints.

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