Cityscape global underlines real estate opportunities for long-term investors

Cityscape Global, the gateway event for real estate investment which will run at the Dubai World Trade Centre from September 25-27, will underline attractive real estate opportunities created by Dubai’s increasingly mature investment environment.

The emirate remains relatively affordable on a global basis, according to Knight Frank. Its analysis of the size of prime residential property that US$1M will buy in key cities sees Dubai offering a generous 143 sqms as against Monaco with 16 sqms, Hong Kong at 22 sqms and both London and New York at 31 sqms.

International real estate consultancy Knight Frank also says that Dubai is fast becoming a key hub city for property investment. In its latest economic report, the consultants said that though the speed of Dubai’s real estate growth has brought challenges, it is also creating a more mature investment environment. The company’s expectations of the market will be spelt out at Cityscape Intelligence, an exclusive B2B content feature taking place on the first day of the show.

Taimur Khan, Associate Partner, Knight Frank says several factors have combined to ‘mature’ Dubai, including population growth, strategic location and quality of life and safety rankings which have spurred its international second home and investment appeal.
“Dubai has emerged as a critical global gateway city. Its geographic position means it is uniquely well placed to act as a hub for accessing Asia, the Middle East and Africa – all key future economic growth centres. Within a four-hour flight time, Dubai can access 10 leading global cities, including Riyadh and New Delhi or a third of the world’s population. A further 24 key cities, including London, Singapore and Frankfurt, are within eight hours’ flight time or two-thirds of the world’s population.

“This has resulted in a plethora of nationalities choosing the emirate as a location for a second home or investment purchase,” he said identifying the top foreign investors as from India, the UK, Pakistan and China.

“Despite the recent slowing in market performance, if we take a longer-term view, the emirate has experienced stable growth,” added Khan.

Khan says between 2013 and 2018, the Knight Frank Prime Global Cities Index recorded an annual average growth of 4.2% against Dubai’s prime market annual average growth of 2.1% over the same period with residential yields of between 6-7%.

“This relative affordability is not an indication of a lack of prime schemes. In fact, there are a number of schemes where the quality matches or in some cases, surpasses what is found in other key global cities. Knight Frank has seen strong demand for properties in this segment of the market, with the benefit that in Dubai, buyers are able to acquire these prime projects at values that are relatively lower, compared to other key global cities, whilst still benefitting from Dubai’s business and lifestyle offer,” says Khan.

A shift towards community value-add is leading to a more integrated approach by all involved in the design environment process, according to Hong Kong design studio LWK+PARTNERS.

Its spokesperson Kerem Cengiz says mobility will be a key issue to address. “As our urban environments come under scrutiny, mobility becomes much more important in terms of liveable environments. There’s certainly a need for us to broaden our approach to collaborate with other aspects of the design industry particularly with government and client stakeholders, landscape, engineering and precepts of mobility to create environments and urban solutions that allow a more shareable culture that allows evolution and development,” he said.

“There is a shift towards more international space design which not only accommodates occupants needs intelligently, yet has the potential to create functional and comfortable, adaptable and sharable settings. Whether we are talking about a commercial, residential or retail product, clients are stepping away from the highly decorative, rich fabrics and patterns in architecture and interiors. Materials selection is moving towards more softer finishes and an overall brighter natural pallet that can appeal to the cosmopolitan and urban user.”

Sustainability, technology and appropriate contextuality are three factors which will drive the region’s architectural practices according to Adrian Welch, senior architect at Godwin Austen Johnson, one of the largest and longest established UK architectural and design practices in the UAE. A ‘green’ approach, he says, will align with the growing wellness approach of governments. “A green approach provides visual joy but also brings health benefits to the occupants,” he says. And while technology has always driven architectural change, contextuality could engender local pride.

“Each country around the Gulf has its own layered traditions based on aspects such as indigenous materials, and these should in my view be celebrated. This is perhaps easier for smaller residential projects, as the design of large office and apartment buildings will be open to international product supply due to financial reasons,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Cityscape Global exhibitors say the show will pinpoint investment opportunities influenced by the introduction of new government initiatives. Azizi Developments says these opportunities are backed by strong, national economic fundamentals and the catalytic effect of Expo 2020 Dubai.

The company’s CEO Farhad Azizi said increased regulation to protect ownership rights is seeing UAE residents, regional and international investors “increasingly viewing Dubai as a secure investment destination.” He added: “There are several other growth drivers for the real estate sector: Dubai is one of the world’s fastest-growing cities with its population increasing at 10.7 percent annually.

“Additionally, Dubai is ranked as the 6th safest city in the world, and its strategic geographic location, stable currency, and world-class infrastructure are all attractive to home buyers and investors.

“The approval by the UAE Cabinet to grant 100 percent ownership of non-free zone businesses by foreign investors, the decision to grant 10-year visas for investors and professionals, and the law that grants retirees over the age of 55 longer residency visas, will all be significant catalysts in encouraging investors to purchase property in Dubai, not only to live in but also as long-term investments, boosting market confidence. The UAE’s zero-tax regime is also particularly attractive for high-net-worth investors at a time when wealth taxes are on the rise in many countries, with one study suggesting a net gain of more than 5,000 high-net-worth individuals into the Emirates last year.”

Both buying and architectural trends will come in for focused examination at the Cityscape Global Conference on Tuesday 24 September at the InterContinental, Dubai Festival City. The 2019 programme will encompass three distinct streams: ‘Investment, Development and Trends’, ‘Architecture & Design,’ and the newly launched ‘PropTech’.

“Delegates will hear from the industry’s most influential thought leaders including business analysts, innovators, government officials and strategists, who will share their insights and knowledge through powerful discussions and thought-provoking presentations,” said Chris Speller, Group Director of Cityscape.

The free-to-attend Cityscape Talks will take place on the exhibition floor across the three-day show.

Cityscape Global is sponsored by Platinum Sponsor: the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs in Saudi Arabia; and Official Partners: Arada, Arton Capital, Regus, and LWK+PARTNERS. The Cityscape Conference is sponsored by Platinum Sponsors: Maisonette and Provis; Gold sponsors: C. Savva & Associates, Eltizam, Kohler and Colliers International; and Silver sponsors: Altus Group and Mott MacDonald. Cityscape Talks is sponsored by Kohler, Provis, LWK+PARTNERS and Maisonette.

About Cityscape:

Cityscape, owned by Informa Markets, first took place in 2002 in Dubai and has since grown to be one of the largest real estate event brands globally, with events taking place across the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and Turkey. With the success of Cityscape in Dubai, the brand has constructed a portfolio of events across a spectrum of bullish markets, in countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and with expansions on the horizon in Europe and Asia. For more information visit: