The Gulf Special

Taking it real slow

Dubai's real-estate market is losing steam after a rip-roaring run over the past two years, but expert say something else

Photographs by RA Chandroo

Dubai may have earned a well-deserved place on many ‘top 10 cities’ lists worldwide but for someone forced to move to the desert city from the UK for work, the idea of leaving behind London’s old-world charm for Dubai’s ostentatious opulence may not be an exciting prospect. And there is little that can help you assuage such misgivings, unless, of course, you are blessed with an enthusiastic and accommodating spouse like 38-year-old Hootan Yazhari is.

Hot property

Of late, Indians and Britishers have been aggressively investing in Dubai's real-estate market 

Head of frontier markets equity research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Yazhari had to move to the land of the seven emirates in late 2014 as his American employer wanted to take advantage of rising investor interest in the Gulf and adjoining regions. This interest is led in part by the decision of index compiler MSCI — whose indices include some widely tracked global equity benchmarks — to upgrade Qatar and the UAE to emerging markets.

“My wife was very excited about our move to Dubai as she had visited the place before on work and to study and really liked the city. It has so much to offer — it is safe, truly international and multicultural, has a vibrant community, fantastic employment opportunities in the financial sector and great weather,” says Yazhari at his fifth-floor office at the Dubai International Finance Centre. 

Today, Yazhari is one of the over 2.2 million inhabitants of Dubai, which has seen its population skyrocket from less than a million at the start of 2000 thanks to the region’s strong economic growth. In fact, more than 80% of the over 9.3 million inhabitants of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are now expatriates — who are among the big drivers in the property market. However, between 2008 and 2009, as the credit contagion spread outwards from the US, the UAE economy, too, wilted, with its real-estate market being the biggest casualty — crashing 60% during that period.

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