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Encouraging news for UAE property market.

In a recent opinion survey, conducted by DSL Exhibitions to gauge consumer concerns and satisfaction levels in the wake of the UAE property boom, researchers found several startling results that clearly demonstrate residents rising confidence - both in the property market as well as infrastructure development.

"We believe that UAE is at an important turning point in its journey of development," said Tessa Morris, Marketing Director, DSL Exhibitions - organizers of The Local Property Show - the nation's oldest and only real estate exhibition solely focused on UAE's property offerings. "We designed this survey to understand consumer opinion at the grass roots level, on how they feel about the UAE's success on the infrastructure development front - something that impacts residents' daily lives."

The survey was conducted with 368 UAE residents, who have lived in the country for at least 3 years, with or without a break in their stay. The survey took into account the demographic makeup of UAE. With that in mind, the proportion of the respondents was as follows: * Emirati Nationals 19%, other expats (Arab and Iranian) 23%, South Asian (Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan) 50%, other expatriates (includes Westerners and East Asians) 8%. * Emirate-wise residence split of respondents: Dubai 34.5% / Abu Dhabi 30% / Sharjah 18.5% / Ajman 7% / Umm Al Quwain 0% / Ras Al Khaimah 7% / Fujairah 3%

Confidence improves in the property market52% of those polled believed that the UAE property market has improved or remained the same in terms of availability of property. On the other hand, only 3% believed that prices have improved over the last 2 years - a clear indication that while more property is available for purchase, inflation is keeping most of the property out of reach of the reach of the majority. Similarly, both quality of offering and choice received a vote of confidence, with most respondents agreeing that these elements have improved or remained the same over the recent past. Consumers also felt that the property industry now has a more credible offering (73%) and is better regulated (62%). Professionalism and transparency were also on the rise, the residents said, with the advent of organizations such as RERA designed to protect consumer interests.

Imran Sheikh from Tricon, Gold Sponsors of the upcoming R&R Local Property Show has similar views on this. "The worlds' best architects, consulting engineers, master developers and conglomerates have come to the region to offer their best and share in the growth of the UAE", he said. "In addition, enforcement of new laws along improvement in the quality of offering and professionalism has contributed to increasing consumer confidence in the nation's real estate industry."

Infrastructure improving fast - more focus needed on key areasMost respondents felt that infrastructure development across the UAE has improved the property landscape - on 2 counts: Accessibility and facilities. However, huge concerns remain on traffic congestions and inter-Emirate travel - 86% felt traffic has either worsened or remained the same while a whopping 63% felt that travel across the various parts of the UAE has worsened - areas where policy makers must focus urgently.

81% of the respondents said that inter-Emirate connectivity must be improved, while 92% suggested cheap and frequent transport as an area that needed government attention. 47% voted in favor of development of satellite communities, while 65% said decentralized urban planning is necessary for the sustainable growth of the UAE.

Mixed response on living conditions A surprising result that the survey unearthed was consumers' opinion on property availability and choice - the opinion was almost equally split among 3 camps - those who think it has improved (33%), remained the same (28%) and worsened (39%). This is in stark contrast to the surveys conducted by DSL Exhibitions in 2006, where almost all respondents said that quality of life was severely impacted as availability and choice in the property market were severely limited. On another positive, 51% of the respondents said that road networks had improved. Commute times continue to be a problem, though, with 91% of those polled saying that it now takes the same or longer to travel across the UAE's urban centers.

Inflation in the property market continues to plague residentsOne thing that hasn't changed from 2 years back is consumers' worries with inflation in the real estate sector - while respondents said that market dynamics and choice had improved, availability and quality of delivery remained an issue.

The next property boom - where?Respondents were starkly split over where the next property boom of UAE will take place - 42% voted for Abu Dhabi, while 31% said it was going to be in Ajman. A surprising 3rd place was taken by Ras Al Khaimah at 19%.

Khurram Wahid from Chapal World, R&R Local Property Show believes the results reflect reality. "There is a huge potential for growth and expansion in the Northern Emirates," he said. "Continuous influx of high number of people finding long term financial success in Dubai has created a huge demand for affordable housing in the neighboring Emirates, such as Ajman."

Clearly, Abu Dhabi is doing a lot in terms of real estate development - given the Emirate's size and resources at its disposal: "The Abu Dhabi property market provides an interesting opportunity for investment. The government of Abu Dhabi have carefully studied both the plans and growth of Dubai and therefore are planning a more controlled, transparent approach to building the core of their market. Investors are currently considering Al Reem Island, which is a freehold area. Private developers are offering payment plans of great interest to an investor, these tend to be on a 20/80 payment plan which for an investor is fantastic as the initial outlay in small whilst in turn for the developer and Abu Dhabi it drums up the interest from investors", says Ben Smith from Smith&Ken Real Estate.

However, both Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah are strong contenders and should not be overlooked. Khurram Wahid from Chapal World commented "There is a huge potential for growth and expansion in the Northern Emirates. Continuous influx of high number of people finding long term financial success in Dubai has created big demand for affordable housing in the neighbouring emirates.

"We had a hugely successful Local Property Show last month in Ajman, first time focusing only on Northern Emirates, and there is a strong feeling - both among consumers as well as industry players - that the next pot of gold lies buried towards the North," said Tessa.

The Local Property Show Dubai, featuring properties on offer from all over the UAE will take place on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th March at the Crowne Plaza Dubai from 10am - 10pm. Admission is free

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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Mar 10, 2008
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