Pink flamingoes feed in the mud flats at the Ras al-Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai, with the city skyline seen in the background, on August 13. Photo: AFP / Karim Sahib

Dubai real estate prices have hit their lowest point since the 2008 financial crisis, dropping 15.3% year-on-year as of this June, according to a report.

The report by UAE-based property consultancy Cavendish Maxwell came as expansion work stalled on Dubai’s second airport, and as a leading bank owned by the emirate offered foreign nationals an unprecedented stake in its shares.

The price of a Dubai villa (a standalone home) averaged 1.68 million Emirati dirhams ($460,000) in July, down from AED 2.93 million ($800,000) in 2014, when Dubai was announced as the venue for the Expo 2020 world’s fair.

“As of June 2019, apartment and villa/townhouse prices have declined by 21.4% and 22.4% respectively, compared to their prices of AED 2.1 million and AED 5.6 million in September 2015,” Cavendish Maxwell said.

The last time property prices dipped this low was in quarter 1 of 2009, in the period immediately following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the plummet of global oil prices to $32 per barrel. At that time, the price of a villa in Dubai had dropped to AED 2 million ($545,000).

Wheels down

The business hub of the United Arab Emirates has also revised the timeline for the completion of Al Maktoum airport, which currently serves a limited number of airlines, but which was slated to serve as the new hub of the emirate and its flagship carrier Emirates.

“Dubai Airports is currently reviewing its long-term master plan,” a statement said, adding: “The exact timelines and details of next steps are not as yet finalized.”

Dubai International Airport, situated on the Persian Gulf, was the busiest for global travel in 2018, serving nearly 90 million people transiting between North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Emirates NBD, a government-owned bank, has meanwhile loosened restrictions on foreign ownership of its shares, bumping up the allowed percentage from just 5% to 20%.

In neighboring Saudi Arabia, business executive Bandar Al-Khorayef of the Al Khorayef Group, was appointed to head a newly created Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources – slicing away at the portfolio of Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was reportedly frustrated at the pace of development of the kingdom’s industrial sector under Falih’s watch, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The powerful young prince has faced obstacles of his own making, however, with the jailing and shakedown of key businessmen and partners to the outside world in 2017, and the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside a Saudi consulate the following year.

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