The proposed budget provides funding for a series of new policies which are aimed at stimulating economic growth and investment in the non-oil dependent sectors in 2019. This move is expected to positively affect the real estate sector in the medium term.
This is expected to reverse the current down turn in market conditions, with all sectors of the market remaining in the downturn state of their cycle in Q3 2018. Further declines in rents and sale prices are also projected over the next 12 months, highlighted the report.
One of the new policies that is shaping the real estate sector is the relaxation of regulatoru requirement relating to free zone and the establishment of more ‘dual licensed’ projects, that allow for both Free Zone and onshore licensed companies to co-exist.
This is a partial response to the growing demand for flexible office space (available on leases of less than one year), an emerging global trend that will disrupt the office market in the future. The Dubai office sector remained subdued in Q3, with rental prices decreasing further in light of the growing available supply of new and existing space.
“The implementation of new policies and the relaxation of regulatory restrictions, in line with the Vision 2021 goal of further diversifying the Dubai economy, will provide a boost to the real estate market in 2019,” stated Craig Plumb, Head of Research, JLL, MENA.
“Earlier this year, UAE approved a new investment law that could allow 100% foreign ownership of companies in specific sectors of the economy to operate outside of free zones by the end of 2018. Once implemented, this law will boost Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and increase demand from overseas businesses, particularly for projects outside of the existing Free Zones,” he added.
The residential market has continued to soften, despite the introduction of 10-year residency visas for certain categories of retirees—with both sale prices and rents declining further during Q3. Developers are focused on selling off the existing inventories by offering increasingly generous payment plans to investors.
Hotel performance however, remains under scrutiny– as occupancy levels and room rates have softened further in Q3. However, JLL’s Q3 report notes that Dubai welcomed 8.1 million visitors over the first 8 months of the year, with major source markets including Western Europe (21%), the GCC (19%) and South Asia (18%). Despite the softening in performance, Dubai remains one of the strongest performing hotel markets globally, ahead of other major global cities such as London, Tokyo and Sydney.
The retail sector remains the most challenged sector of the Dubai market in the face of increased supply and the growth of online retailing. More malls are now offering leasing incentives and even ‘turnover only’ leases, to retain existing and attract new tenants.
While the longer-term prospects for the retail sector remain positive, this sector is likely to decline further in the face of very high supply levels over the next two years.