Dubai has unveiled a raft of construction projects in the past year worth more than $130bn, an analysis by Arabian Business has found.
The announcements by major developers includes a growing pipeline of mega projects in what has been touted as a resurgence in the development sector.
However, property analysts say the ambitious construction agenda, which is set to be rolled out over the next few years, needed to be viewed cautiously after the 2008-10 economic crisis resulted in Dubai property prices plummeting by up to 60 percent and many projects being cancelled.
Amongst the biggest projects to emerge this year is the June launch of the 6.5 million square metre Dubai Creek Harbour, a joint venture between Emaar Properties, Dubai's largest listed developer, and conglomerate Dubai Holding.
With business, shopping, sporting and entertainment facilities planned, the project reportedly has a budget of $17.4bn.
Emaar also announced in June plans for the Dubai Hills Estate, which is part of the wider Mohammad Bin Rashid City project, after teaming up with government-backed Meraas Holding to add to its master-planned communities.
In a busy year, it follows Emaar’s plans for The Address Residence Fountain Views and The Address Residence Sky View in Downtown Dubai, which were also unveiled this year.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Bin Rashid City, which was unveiled by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in November and includes the world's biggest shopping mall, more than 100 hotels, a Universal Studios theme park and a public park larger than London’s Hyde Park, has an estimated $100bn of residential projects, according to Middle East Economic Digest.
Dubai developer Meydan, which is developing the 4 million square metre first phase of the city with Sobha Group, estimated property receipts could be about $5.7bn.
The first phase will feature 1,500 luxury villas, 7km of manmade lagoons and beaches, as well as retail, leisure and sports amenities.
In other big-ticket projects, Dubai-based luxury developer Damac revealed plans for a $2.5bn, 28,000 sqft residential enclave, named Akoya by Damac, which will also feature an 18-hole Trump International Golf Club.
This year, Damac also launched the $1bn Damac Towers with Hollywood film studio Paramount in Downtown Dubai.
Meraas Holding, meanwhile, unveiled plans in February for the $1.6bn Bluewaters Island project off the coast of Jumeirah Beach Residence, including provision for the world’s tallest Ferris wheel.
It joins further planned coastal developments such as Dubai-based property investment firm SKAI Holdings’ plans for the $1bn hotel and furnished residences project, the Viceroy Palm Jumeirah.
Government-owned developer Nakheel, which was at the centre of several stalled projects during the boom era, was ordered by Sheikh Mohammed in February to start work on Nakheel Mall and the Pointe at Palm Jumeirah ($898m combined).
Dubai’s ruler also unveiled plans in June for the Dubai Design District, worth $1.09bn for the first phase alone. He also announced the restart of works on the Dubai Trade Centre District, a 146,000 square metre site between the current Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre and Emirates Towers, which had previous estimates of $4.4bn.
In November Sheikh Mohammed said Meraas Holding would build a $2.7bn entertainment and leisure development, including five theme parks in Jebel Ali.
Craig Plumb, head of research Middle East North Africa at Jones Lang LaSalle, said the company viewed the slew of projects with “cautious optimism”.
“The new projects clearly reflect growing confidence in the market - a good thing - but we all know what can happen if we indulge in too much of a good thing,” he told Arabian Business.
Plumb said it was important the development sector learnt from the previous boom/bust cycle.
When MBR City was announced analysts said it would fuel the emirate’s tourism ambitions, so long as it was properly phased and not heavily based on off-plan real estate sales.
Plumb said many of the “new” announcements being merely the dusting down of old announcements under a new guise.
He noted some previously announced projects remained “firmly on hold” such as Jumeirah Garden City by Meeras and Nakheel’s Trump Tower, Waterfront, Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira.
“It’s in the best interests of the market to see a few years of solid growth in prices (and) performances than a short unsustainable growth in prices followed by another crash,” Plumb said.
Lannhill real estate commercial property agent Gavin McNally said joint ventures were the “big thing” at the moment.
“We have a lot of developers who are looking for land owners along Sheikh Zayed Road,” he said. “Vice versa we have investors who want to team up with developers.
“It spreads the risk. People have learnt from the past mistakes.”
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