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Sun 30 Sep 2012 08:53 AM

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Is Emaar the Apple of property?

Emaar has become the Apple of the property industry, and in many ways, its latest Address project is its own iPhone 5

Is Emaar the Apple of property?

Last week felt a bit like Groundhog Day. Three different people called me up in the space of an hour, suggesting I do exactly what they were doing. “Just get down there with your cheque book. And do it now.”

They were, like many hundreds, if not thousands of other people, making their way down to Downtown Dubai, where Emaar had just begun selling properties on its latest development, The Address,The Boulevard.

To say it went rather well would be an understatement. Planned as a 63-storey tower, which will include a 200-room hotel and 542 serviced apartments, due for handover by the end of 2015, the punters clearly loved what they saw (which is actually nothing more than floor plans). Hundreds queued overnight outside Emaar’s sales centre (well, hundreds of investors paid hundreds of labourers to queue up for them), and within hours, everything up for sale that day had been sold.

Now, if you don’t know anything about the Dubai property market, you would rightly think that this super sale was because the prices were spectacularly low. Think again. Prices ranged from AED1.1m (US$299,500) for a studio to over AED6m (US$1.6m) for a four-bedroom unit.  That equates to an incredible AED2,650 per square foot, more than double the average in the area. All the more incredible when you factor in the latest Asteco survey which suggests prices in the area already rose nine percent between Q2 and Q1 this year.

There are two ways to analyse what’s going on: one is that the property boom is back with a bang, and that nobody learned anything from the crash. We are all essentially greedy and will risk anything for the chance of a quick buck.

The reason that theory doesn’t hold water is that just 20 minutes drive from Downtown is the Nakheel-built Palm Jumeirah development. Last week, there was also a bit of a gathering there. This one was unhappy residents getting together to decide what to do next in their long-running spat with Nakheel, after the developer banned many of them from using the beach in a row over service charges. Many are now stuck in lengthy legal disputes with the developer that could drag on for years. There, is of course, no shortage of apartments for sale on the Palm Jumeirah, though with around five minutes of research, you could pick up a decent place for close to AED800 per square foot.

This leads to the obvious question: how can prices on one world-famous development be more than three times those on another world-famous (and probably more celebrated) development? Well, I can only find one difference: Downtown is built by Emaar, The Palm Jumeirah by Nakheel.

We could argue forever about the difference in quality between the two, but fundamentally, the difference is down to the Emaar brand. Over the past few years, it has established itself as the region’s premium real estate company. If you buy or live in an Emaar property, you feel sure it is well built, well serviced and most of all, if sold off plan, will be delivered on time. Emaar is a trusted brand, the type we aspire to be part of. Emaar has become the Apple of the property industry, and in many ways, this new project is its own iPhone 5.

To be fair to Nakheel, it has at least began the process of financial turnaround. The company’s net profit surged 36.5 percent to AED767m for the half-year ended 30 June 2012 from AED562m in same period last year.

But bringing the brand back to its former glory is the real challenge.

Anil Bhoyrul is the Editorial Director of Arabian Business, you can follow him on Twitter at @AnilBhoyrul

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Dubaiinvestor 007 7 years ago

the same attitude and talk happening in this article is what drove Dubai to crash... Over inflating things!!!... we cannot compare Apple to Emaar by no means or by any common sense! Apple is a 500 billion US dollars profit and it is full of mind blowing innovation while Emaar or the new building is another nicely designed building! This is for sure not another boom as said in "one is that the property boom is back with a bang" this is very naive, the fact is that Emaar is a special case of its own in the Dubai property market and cannot be taken as a market trend. To be fair, Emaar is one of the best property developers in the GCC and has maintained credibility so far but has nothing to do with a so called "Dubai property market"

The Consultant 7 years ago

Emaar are definitely the least bad of an attrocious bunch of developers, but it's going a bit far to call them the Apple of Dubai. Yes, they have a track record of generally delivering more or less what they promised without being excessively late, but they are still capable of treating their homeowners in a high-handed manner - how many of the interim owners associations have actually been registered so far in Emaar developments, for example?

And if people are queueing up to pay for apartments that are currently just a drawing when they could get a finished property for half that price, then clearly there are people out there who have learned nothing from the last boom and bust.

James 7 years ago

Nicely said Anil.

Fricheur 7 years ago

that's funny how the editor see things !!! he has clearly no background in finance or business. Can you please compare Emaar stock price history for the last 5 years, or even one year to Apple stock price !! lol that's a funny article....

Jeff Bustlethwaite 7 years ago

The sad thing about Emaar is that to be thought of as 'the best of a bad bunch' is considered to be some kind of endorsement.

Emaar are better than others, but still have a track record of not delivering what was promised, charging outrageous service fees, dragging their heels over tenants' associations, etc, etc.

They also don't care about investors or residents, happily making massive changes to the areas they develop without any prior warning.

bkay 7 years ago

"You feel sure it is well built and serviced"....wait until you are living in an Emaar property, same as the rest, very poor quality construction, services lousy, high service charges, cutting staff everywhere (talking about old town) supposendly be one of the best constructed areas...nothing describes it better..."in the land of the blind is one eye king" as they say... let us not be fooled, they are not much different than the rest... but have a strong PR/advertising department...it's the only difference, the property market has a long, long way to go to get the confidence back...just curious who were the buyers of the Blvd Plaza ????

Manav Rupani 7 years ago

buying at 2650 per square foot is the height of greed and hope! Best of luck to the buyers!
And hats off to Emaar PR/Marketing department for pulling off sales at such high prices!

Dalamar 7 years ago

Is Sorouh the Emaar of Abu Dhabi?

Wo Ried 7 years ago

Anil's comment scrapped by censorship? It must be a good one

Mai Tai 7 years ago

what kind of comparison is this. All Dubai developers are bad but some a less bad than others. EMMAR, if compared with world developers will only get 10% while Dubai properties and nakheel will get 0.5%. This is the way to compare Sir.