At Rs 30,000 crore, Indians top foreign investors in Dubai real estate


Dubai Property Show will be held at the Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregaon, from November 6 to 8. (Representative Photo)DUBAI: Indians have actually emerged the top foreign property investors in Dubai, spending over Rs 30,000 crore last year alone. This is more than a quarter of the total of around Rs 1 lakh crore of ‘non-Arab’ property investments recorded in 2014, according to the Dubai land department.

In the first half of this year, Indians were again the most prolific foreign investors, along with 3,017 transactions worth over Rs 13,000 crore. The department said 123 different nationalities spent over Rs 42,400 crore in the same period.

This week, leading Dubai-based developers will descend on the city to entice Indians to invest in the Emirate’s real estate. The property exhibition in Mumbai comes at a time when Dubai’s property market is still shaky—prices fell by 12.2% during the past year, the largest drop in the world, according to real estate consultancy Knight Frank. Russians, who were one of the biggest property investors in Dubai, left after the 2008 global financial crisis, said sources. The biggest names in the construction industry in Dubai are now vying to entice Indian buyers to invest in apartments and villas at prices they claim are much cheaper than Mumbai. But a Knight Frank official said over the past year, there was a fall in the proportion of Indian real estate investment in Dubai. “In H1 2015, Indians accounted for 15% of the total spent on property—versus 25% in H1 2014. This can largely be attributed to the strength of the US dollar (to which the UAE dirham is pegged), making property investment in the Emirate a more expensive endeavour for the nationality,” he said.

Dubai land department data shows foreigners accounted for 78% of total real estate investment in the first half of 2015. Of these, Indians, British and Pakistanis were the most, constituting 15%, 9% and 6%, respectively, of the total value invested in real estate between January and June of this year.

Ali Rashid Ahmed Lootah, chairman of Nakheel, the Dubai-based master developer said, “In the last few years, the Dubai market has actually attained depth and maturity in the wake of rules and regulations put in place by authorities. We have actually learnt our lessons from the post-2009 property debacle. The market is expected to be stable going forward.” Indians comprise 11% of the construction giant’s customer base.

Kamlesh Sampat, director, SPF Realty, said stringent rules now regulate the Dubai property market, especially since the market crash of 2008. “Local authorities regulate all transactions, brokers etc. Besides, there is no 50% to 125% loading in projects,” he said. Local property experts said apartment prices in Dubai start at Rs 62 lakh going up to Rs 2.5 crore for villas. “Rates in several locations in Dubai are comparatively lower than certain metropolitan cities in India; real estate there likewise offers better amenities at a lower price than in Delhi, NCR or Mumbai,” they said.

“Proximity to India, lower interest rates, rental yield ranging 4-7% annually, high tax-free returns on investments of around 20% and a regulated market are key driving factors for Indian investments into the sector,” said a market source.

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