Dubai housing boom buoys buyers

With rents soaring and properties selling fast, the expatriate hub of Dubai is in the throes of a housing boom bolstered by rich emigres that has buoyed investors and burdened tenants.

Dubai, renowned for its towering skyscrapers and ultra-luxury villas, saw record real estate transactions in 2022, largely due to the influx of wealthy investors — especially from Russia.

That helped to rake in more than $140 billion last year, marking a 76 percent annual rise in property market transactions for the Gulf city state, based on the latest official figures.

“The market in the last year has massively changed — it is great for landlords, but it’s not so good for tenants,” said Jacob Fletcher of brokerage firm Betterhomes.

While it may not be as rich in oil as the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, Dubai lures expatriates with tax incentives, a lush lifestyle and cheap services provided by low-wage labourers from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

In upscale Dubai neighbourhoods, where properties sell for more than $10 million, the 219 sales recorded in 2022 were “more than the total recorded between 2010 and 2020”, said real estate consultancy Knight Frank.

Property prices in these prime locations jumped by 44 percent in 2022 compared with the year before, it said.

“The luxury market in Dubai was the fastest growing in the world but remains cheaper than main big cities,” said Faisal Durrani, head of Middle East research at Knight Frank.

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