Dubai still No 1 hotspot for GCC investors

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Dubai remains the most attractive destination to private investors in the GCC region, according to a new report published by real estate firm Cluttons.

Its first Middle East Private Capital Survey, which aimed to highlight attitudes and behaviours of high net worth individuals (HNWI) in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Manama, Muscat and Riyadh, also showed that Riyadh and Doha were emerging as strong secondary and tertiary target locations.

Cluttons said despite Eurozone uncertainty dragging down the performance of the broader global economy, the Middle East was the only global region to have recorded positive growth in total HNWI wealth from 2010 to date.

It added that the number of HNWIs looking to invest regionally is 60 percent higher than in 2011, and that 80 percent of those surveyed are very likely to make an investment in the region during 2013.

The report said Dubai was the top investment target for both investors from the UAE and those from all other cities surveyed, with 80 percent of HNWIs "very likely" to make an investment in Dubai during 2013.

Within Dubai itself, HNWI interests were split across residential (40 percent), hotel and leisure (40 percent) and retail and malls (20 percent), Cluttons said.

The report said typical budgets for Abu Dhabi's HNWIs seeking residential assets in Dubai range from AED50-80m.

Aside from Dubai, Saudi Arabia's residential market (20 percent) and Doha's office (7.5 percent), hotel and leisure sectors (7.5 percent) remained high on the wishlists of Abu Dhabi's HNWI, the report added.

For investors based in Manama, Riyadh's residential market and Doha's residential, office and hotel and leisure sectors were also of high importance.

After Dubai, Saudi Arabia emerged as the next most desirable investment destination for the region's HNWIs, with those in Abu Dhabi and Manama stating that residential property in Riyadh was high up on their target lists, while the Saudi capital's industrial assets topped Muscat's HNWI interests.

About 60 percent of Riyadh-based investors identified Dubai's residential, office and hotel and leisure sectors as sought after asset classes.

The abolition of all restrictions on foreign property ownership in May has also helped to propel Istanbul on to the radars of the region's HNWIs, with 60 percent of those surveyed naming the Turkish capital as an emerging destination of high interest, Cluttons said.

Ian Gladwin, CEO at Cluttons, said: "Dubai's improved attractiveness, as a result of the regional geopolitical tensions, coupled with the emirate's economic recovery has in effect created a 'perfect storm', which Dubai is benefiting from tremendously."

He added: "It is clear that real estate assets continue to take precedence when it comes to regional investment activity."

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