Dubai police chief calls for slowdown on real estate

Emirate shouldn’t aim for return to boom-time construction, says Dahi Khalfan Tamim
Dubai police chief calls for slowdown on real estate
Dahi Khalfan, Dubai’s chief of police, said there should be a ceiling to real estate activity
By Staff writer
Tue 16 Aug 2011 08:38 AM

Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai’s chief of police and head of the country’s budget committee, urged in a news conference Monday that Dubai slow real-estate development.

“Dubai shouldn’t expand its real-estate sector as it did in the past,” Khalfan said. ‘‘We should slow activity, and there should be a ceiling.’’

Dubai, the Gulf’s trade and tourism hub, had the world’s fastest- growing property market from 2006 to mid-2008 because of rising demand from a growing expatriate workforce and speculation fuelled by borrowing.

Prices quadrupled in the six years following the 2002 decision to allow foreign ownership of property in designated areas.

That ended after Lehman Brothers Holdings collapsed in September 2008, setting off the global financial crisis. Rents and prices fell an estimated 60 percent from their peak as speculators fled the market, triggering an emirate-wide real estate crash.

About 50 percent of Dubai real-estate projects were cancelled or suspended after the collapse.

Dubai said in June it had cancelled 217 property projects as of May 31, following a review of more than 450 projects. The emirate said it expected 237 developments to be completed “in due course”.

The total value of property sale transactions plunged to AED119.5bn at the end of last year from AED152.9bn a year earlier, it said.

A Reuters poll found in July that house prices in Dubai could tumble a further 10 percent amid the 18,000 new homes expected to hit the emirate’s market by year-end.

The UAE government said in June it would offer three-year visas to owners of properties worth AED1m or more, replacing visas that require renewal every six months, in a bid to spur interest among foreign buyers.

*With agencies

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