In Dubai, size matters and here companies actively vie to out do one another with the next big thing. From seven star hotels to the largest billboard, the biggest mall and the soon to be tallest tower (Burj Dubai
), these gargantuan projects are all part of slick marketing campaign designed to transform Dubai from oil rich to tourist super power. In the hope of getting the public's attention, these one of a kind achievements are paramount in the sea of advertising that is the Dubai property market.
Arriving early (very early) into Dubai airport, we are greeted with rain, a surprise when one considers those year round sunshine claims but naturally even the desert needs a little relief. Returning after a visit in 2004, the first encounter is with old friend, the traffic jam, at points along the Sheik Zayed Road the freeway is 6 lanes wide and yet at 6am in the morning the traffic was heavy, so whether this place will come to a standstill when much of the expected resident locals and tourists join the fray in a few years time, remains a mystery. A few reports have been bounded about that the road leading onto The Palm
will not be large enough to cope with the traffic expected to use it at full capacity, a drive by the entrance does suggest a future of serious palmnecks.
Electing apartment living for this brief stay in favour of hoteldom, as I take in the view from a window of a studio on the 10th floor of Marina Diamond 1, a property development we marketed a few years ago, 41 high rise buildings under construction can be counted. Many of these towers are set to be residential and at an average of say 30 floors, that translates to a lot of rooms in just one of Dubai's sprawling real estate zones, Dubai Marina. As the pile drivers clunk the footings of yet another couple of nameless towers, soon to replace my abstracted Dubai Marina view with the choice of someone else’s living room or a buzzing highway, I am left wondering what this place will become.
Since the last trip to this small Emirate, it is truly amazing what has been achieved here in under two years, though its seems there is still a long way to go. A metropolis rising out of the desert is the best way of describing the engineering masterpiece being built here, with the feeling that Dubai is trying to pull off another first, building New York city in the shortest time possible! From Jumeriah to Bur Dubai, the Sheik Zayed Road down to Palm Jebel Ali, the different property locations appear somewhat disconnected and at present the only practical way to get around is drive or be driven. Even an essentials trip to the nearest supermarket demands a car and until the all encompassing resorts are fully functional, commercial offerings are limited to a collection of half finished malls, newly built locales and existing hotel resorts.
Despite the pace of real estate development here, conflicting reports suggest that the Dubai property market is slowing down with agents complaining of fewer sales and slowing demand whilst others speak of rental prices still rising annually and projects still selling out to wealthy GCC nationals who shall remain nameless. I wait to see in a few years time, who you will see walking the brand new pavements, whether your neighbour will be full or part time resident and if like Spain the work market and holiday market will be inextricably linked or Dubai makes the transition from expat haven to industrial heaven. In a few years time competition for Dubai residential properties is going to be ferocious and a quick scan of today's Gulf News reveals not one but 3 property supplements and 2 classified advertising sections showcasing the extent of new, resale and rental Dubai property on the market already.
I think Dubai is a masterpiece in the making, a city of the future, but one will only really start to see the reality five years from now.