Dubai rolls out property projects despite falling prices

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DUBAI: Dubai developers are rolling out their scale models for the city´s latest grandiose property projects despite continued falls in real estate prices.

Shimmering skyscrapers, golf-course villas and houses in sprawling communities are on show at Cityscape, a fair with a growing a reputation as the venue for launching the emirate´s mega projects.

The centrepiece of this week´s fair is Jumeirah Central, an entire district with a mixture of residential and office blocks, hotels and a mall, along the city´s Sheikh Zayed artery.

The project is being developed by state-owned Dubai Holding — the maker of the luxurious, sail-shaped Burj al-Arab hotel.

Emaar South is another new development announced on the eve of Cityscape by Emaar Properties, which built Burj Khalifa, the world´s tallest tower, among other Dubai landmarks.

It is to be erected in Dubai South, a vast desert that hosts Dubai´s second airport Al-Maktoum which is touted to become the world´s largest and replace Dubai International as the base for Emirates Airline.

Dubai became a magnet for property investments when it opened the sector to foreigners in 2002, standing out in a region that mostly confines freehold ownership to citizens.

The value of property surged at breakneck speed until the global financial crisis hit the debt-laden emirate in 2009, sending prices into free-fall.

A recovery led by tourism, trade and transportation pushed prices up again between 2012 and 2014 and stirred fears of yet another bubble, before they headed south again at a slow pace.

Prices had dropped by about 15 percent since peaking in mid-2014, according to a report by property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle.

Transactions amounted to 57 billion dirhams ($15.5 billion) in the first half, according to official statistics, with Emirati nationals topping the list with deals worth 14.5 billion dirhams.

The rest were snapped up by foreigners led by Indian investors, with transactions worth seven billion dirhams, while Saudis and Britons clinched deals totalling four billion dirhams each.