Dubai real estate to benefit from turmoil, says Al Habtoor

UAE businessman says emirate is seen as a safe haven for companies and investors
Dubai real estate to benefit from turmoil, says Al Habtoor
Real estate prices in Dubai may stabilise as investors look for a safe haven amid regional unrest
By Claire Ferris-Lay
Thu 21 Apr 2011 09:13 AM

Real estate prices in Dubai are set to stabilise as investors
look for a safe haven amid the political turmoil in the region, the head of one
the UAE’s largest conglomerates has said.

Dubai, on the brink of a debt default in 2009, has emerged
as a magnet for investors fleeing widespread political unrest across the Middle
East.

“There is a lot of demand [for property] now. Dubai and the
UAE is a safe haven for a lot of people in the region,” Khalaf Al Habtoor,
chairman of Al Habtoor Group, said.

“The inflow cash flow is improving…property is definitely
going to improve,” he added. “Egyptian businessmen they will move their offices
in the UAE and especially to Dubai. Take other [countries] like Syria, Bahrain
definitely they are moving and we can see that already.”

Property prices in the emirate declined more than 60 percent
from their 2008-peak amid a global economic crisis that caused lending to dry
up and speculative demand to decline, Deutsche Bank AG said in February.

Families and businesses from around the region are moving to
Dubai attracted by cheaper property prices, schools and luxury hotels, said Al
Habtoor.

“Traffic has increased, purchasing power has increased
tremendously,” he said. “Schools admissions – we own two schools, [that have a
lot of pupils] on the waiting list and we can are trying to open new classes
for them to assist to the maximum.

“Look to the hotels they are at 100 percent occupancy.”

Dubai’s economy is expected to increase by around 4 percent
this year driven by a growth in trade and services, Dubai Department of
Economic Development, said last month.

The UAE’s Minister of Economy said in January that real
estate prices will start to show realistic growth by the end of 2011. 

“I believe the worst is over for property. And in my
estimation, at the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012, we will see positive
movement,” Sultan Al Mansouri, told Arabian Business.

 “It won’t be a graph like before, but we will see
growth which is gradual and more realistic.”

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