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Dubai: At 210 metres, construction has reached the tallest point on The Palm as of today. This is the 50th floor of the Palm Tower being built by Nakheel and which will be used for an “infinity” pool.

This could make it among the highest located swimming pools in the world, with the current record being held by the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, which is about 200 metres up in the air. The Palm Tower pool will take in a mighty 930,000 litres of water when it gets ready for the first swimmers.

But this will not remain the tallest point on the Palm — two further levels will be added to the Palm Tower, for a clubhouse and an observation deck that will be open to the public. This will take the height of the tower to 240 metres.

The Palm Tower is part of a massive complex that also houses the two-storey Nakheel Mall and a monorail station right in the middle of the Palm island. (The operator of the hyper-exclusive clubhouse will be announced separately.) And later on, in another three years or so, Nakheel will have topped out the Palm360, a twin-tower structure where one of the highrises will extend to 260 metres.

That, eventually, would get to be the tallest on the Palm. (Piling work is going on at the Palm360 site and the infrastructure contract should be awarded shortly. The hotel and residences will be the second Raffles-branded project in Dubai. The pool there will be located at 180 metres up.) Next year, Nakheel will formally launch a three-tower cluster, at the entrance to the island.

Construction is also at an advanced stage on another tall structure at the Palm. The super-premium One Palm is 100 metres high and being built by Ominyat Properties.

For now, Nakheel’s focus is on the Palm Tower and Nakheel Mall, deemed as a flagship development within the Nakheel portfolio. Later in the year, the hotel component — operated by St. Regis and taking up 289 rooms across 18 levels — of Palm Tower and the mall will have opened, with the residential part to follow next year.

“We have a sales campaign where studios are being offered at Dh1.7 million and with a seven-year payment plan,” said Aqil Kazim, Chief Commercial Officer, Nakheel. “The three-bedrooms, which started at Dh10 million have been sold out, and there are no penthouses.

“Whatever be the type of property, if we as the developer manages to tick all the boxes, the project will have interest from the market.”

The mall itself will add 1.1 million square feet to Dubai’s overall retail stock. Nearly 75 per cent of the space have been leased, and fitouts started by some of the tenants. There will be 350 outlets altogether, including for F&b.

Nakheel has been seeding retail and entertainment points across the island, including The Pointe, with the intention to provide options beyond the residences for people living on the Palm. With the viewing deck at the Palm Tower and Nakheel Mall, these will be additional “pit-stops” for tourists passing through the island, according to Kazim.

Outside of the Palm, Nakheel will keep opening additional retail and hospitality assets this year. This will include the Night Souk on Deira Islands.

Direct from developers proving a hit

Those interest rate hikes in the US are certainly proving costly for property investors in Dubai wanting to sell out. Because they are finding it difficult to match the incentives coming directly from developers, whether through extended payment plans, fee waivers and more.

This is happening even when prices direct from developer could be higher. Because, “once all the costs have been accounted for, both segments — primary and secondary market offers — trade close to parity, with the “cost of money” being the dominant variable,” says the new report from Reidin-GCP.

“Over the last two years the price differential between primary and secondary markets has increased, which is directly related to the rise of interest rates from 2.1 per cent to 3.5 per cent. As the cost of financing increases, secondary market sellers are forced to lower prices to be competitive with their primary counterparts (developers).”

This preference to buy direct from developers has been exacerbated by the post-handover payment plans, which individual owners can never hope to match when they want to sell out. “Buyer preference has moved away from the secondary market … where they were dealing with individual owners and now directly from the developer,” the report adds.

“Analysis reveal a surge in activity for primary transactions over secondary in communities where post-handover payment plan options proliferate, as at Arabian Ranches 2 and Al Furjan).”