downtown dubai
Photo for illustrative purposes Image Credit: Supplied

The surge in Dubai real estate investments from Chinese investors in the past few years is nothing short of phenomenal. From relatively negligible levels just a couple of years back, Chinese investors quickly rose to become among the top four nationalities who invested in Dubai real estate last year, according to the Dubai Land Department.

“When we started one and a half year ago, a lot of Chinese people didn’t know about Dubai,” Nazish Khan, COO of Chinese brokerage Fidu Properties, tells Property Weekly. Things have since changed rapidly and many barriers removed, especially in line with the UAE’s support of China’s Belt and Road initiative. “The country is now aware of Dubai and investors are looking at opportunities here,” Khan adds.

As Dubai welcomes a major influx of real estate investors from China, Khan reveals the specific preferences of Chinese investors and what they truly love about Dubai’s amazing skyline.

Fidu Properties was named by Emaar as a Top 5 Brokerage Company for the first half of 2019. What’s behind your success?

The biggest advantage that we have is our connections back in China. The owners of Fidu come from China and they have a lot of resources. Investors in China have a lot of trust in us. Also, people who are coming to Dubai are seeing the strong presence of Fidu through the mass marketing that we’ve been doing and brand awareness campaigns. Doing a lot of branding campaigns has increased the trust factor with our clients, hence they prefer dealing with us.

We’re branding Dubai very well internationally through all our marketing platforms. We focus on outside markets by bringing new investors into Dubai. Almost 95 per cent of clients that have been registered with Emaar through Fidu are brand new. This makes us different. We always focus on new clients, new investors and new opportunities. This is how we grow bigger, and it’s one of our strengths.

Which communities are doing well with Chinese investors?

Downtown is the top favourite of Chinese investors, because they love the association with the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall – these are very prestigious locations in their perspective. Chinese investors believe in buying off-plan; they’re not so interested in the secondary market. However, there are limited projects of that kind in Downtown right now.

In terms of volume, Dubai Creek Harbour is number one. This is where most of the Chinese are investing at the moment. The project has a lot of phases. Some buildings have been handed over and people have started moving in. We’re starting to see life in Dubai Creek Harbour already.

What are investors from China looking for?

We cater extensively to the Chinese, so we’ve started to understand the nature of these investors. Their top preference are high-rise buildings – the higher the better. They’re not into villas or town houses. They are true believers of tall buildings where they can see the Burj Khalifa. This is one of their top requests, followed by good return on investment (ROI) and payment plan.

Dubai Creek Harbour is offering good payment plans. They’re not giving guaranteed ROI but the predictions are pretty decent. Anything more than 5 per cent, the Chinese investors are happy with it, because in their own cities they’re not looking at more than 1-2 per cent ROI. For the price of a three-bedroom apartment in Dubai you won’t even able to buy a one-bedroom apartment in Shanghai or Beijing. So the ticket sizes are affordable, yet the ROI is higher than what they’re getting.

What is the effect of the Belt and Road initiative?

It has been very positive because it’s all over the news in China. When we started one and a half year ago, a lot of Chinese people didn’t know about Dubai and many hadn’t travelled outside the country. Only a small group of investors who were exposed to the international market were aware of the investments in Dubai. Because of the initiative, the country is now aware of Dubai and investors are looking at opportunities here. This is still a phase where a lot of Chinese are just traveling for a visit, go back with positive information and then plan investments into the city.