By Shane McGinley
Government figures show real estate contracts reached nearly 45,000 during year
The number of real estate contracts registered by Gulf-based investors increased by around a third to nearly 45,000 last year, according to official figures released on Tuesday.
According to the UAE’s Ministry of Finance’s annual statistical report on the Gulf Common Market (GCM) 2011, the number of commercial and residential contracts rose to 44,902 contracts last year, an increase of 32 percent on the previous year.
“The UAE has managed to provide many economic and investment opportunities to GCC nationals in 2011, which has helped to attract more to invests in various economic, educational and social sectors. This has enhanced the UAE’s competitiveness across the gulf region,” said Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs
The report also revealed that the number of business licences granted to Gulf nationals to operate in the UAE increased 10.2 percent to 28,909 last year.
In terms of the number of Gulf investors who invested in public shareholding companies rose from 208,316 investors in 2010 to 212,020 in 2011, an increase of 1.7 percent.
The figures come as Dubai, the UAE’s biggest property market and the hardest hit during the downturn, received some confident endorsements from some prominent players in the local and global markets.
A strong growth in population, realistic targets for job creation and excellent existing infrastructure make Dubai real estate a worthwhile investment, according to bullish research from one of America’s biggest investment banks, Bank of America (BofA) Merrill Lynch.
“Dubai’s active population should grow by 6.1 percent on average over the next eight years, faster than residential supply, which is set to grow by 4.9 percent over the next two years,” the report stated.
While prices slumped by nearly 60 percent from their peak, some assets in Dubai’s property market are now undervalued, and it is realistic to expect that prices can regain their 2008 highs, one of the emirate’s most prominent property bosses has claimed.
Hesham Al Qassim, the CEO of Wasl Asset Management – which is the emirate’s largest landlord, managing the property portfolio owned by the Dubai Real Estate Corporation – said that current prices meant that now was “the right time” to invest in the local market.
“In terms of freehold, all the residential units [in the Wasl portfolio] are seeing good demand again and the market is starting to roll over again,” Al Qassim said, in an interview with Arabian Business.