China’s appetite for Dubai property grows amid strengthening of Sino-UAE ties

Downtown Dubai, The Greens and International City are ranked as top three areas for investment

Dubai , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. July 23, 2015  - Stock photograph of the Boulevard buildings by Emaar Properties in Downtown Dubai, July 23, 2015. (Photo by: Sarah Dea/The National, Story by: STANDALONE, STOCK)
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A large number of Chinese people are investing in Dubai's real estate market due to strengthening of ties between the UAE and China and implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative and other developments, according to a property consultant with Coldwell Banker UAE.

Xiaoyun Du said that current trends in both the Chinese stock market and its property market, both of which have been experiencing rapid growth in recent years, have encouraged upper-middle class Chinese nationals to invest in overseas markets, including in Dubai. Depreciation of the yuan, as well as the high rental yields on offer in Dubai, are other factors that are influencing Chinese investors, Ms Xiaoyun said.

Using data from Dubizzle, she identified Downtown Dubai, The Greens and International City as the three most popular areas for Chinese investors to buy ready properties, whereas Dubai Creek Harbour, Meydan and Madinat Jumeirah Living top the areas in terms of off-plan sales.

“Location, annual yield and selling prices are the three of the key factors considered when making purchasing decisions,” Ms Xiaoyun said.

In Downtown Dubai, the average price of resale properties is between Dh1,700 and Dh2,200 per square foot, which is equivalent to one quarter to one-sixth of the selling price of real estate in Downtown Shanghai, she said.

“For Chinese investors, this price for a fitted flat with a free parking in the heart of Dubai is very cost-effective. The yearly yield in Downtown Dubai is around 6 per cent to 7 per cent, slightly lower than the annual average yearly yield of 8 per cent in Dubai, but because of the above two advantages, Chinese buyers accept this.”

The Greens is another popular choice for Chinese investors due to its proximity to Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City. The average selling price within The Greens is between Dh1,200 and Dh1,500 per square foot and average yields in the community are around 8 per cent.

International City is close to Dragon Mart, the retail and wholesale development that has become one of the biggest hubs for Chinese traders in the Mena region. The average selling price in International City is Dh700 to Dh980 per square feet, meaning properties are more affordable, and it offers some of the highest rental yields in Dubai of 8 to 9 per cent, Ms Xiaoyun said.

In off-plan properties, Dubai Creek Harbour is a new development by Emaar Properties and Dubai Holding, and Chinese investors have already become the number one investors in the area. Last year, master developer Emaar Properties announced plans to build a major 'Chinatown' retail and leisure area within the six square kilometre development.

“Emaar’s development track in Dubai, including Burj Khalifa and whole Downtown area, instills confidence in Chinese nationals considering investing in projects by the developer. Besides, based on their investment experience in major cities in China, investors are confident that such ‘city hub’ developments will provide good returns in the near future.”

Investments by Chinese nationals accounted for Dh1.7 billion in the first three quarters of 2018, making them the sixth-most active buyers of property, according to the Dubai Land Department. Dubai is targeting Dh1bn of Chinese real estate investments in 2019.

The number of Chinese expats living in Dubai has increased by 53 per cent over the past five years, with around 230,000 Chinese nationals currently living in the emirate and around 4,000 Chinese companies operating.

Figures released by Dubai Tourism yesterday also revealed that Chinese visitor numbers increased 11 per cent in the first six months of 2019. China was the emirate's fourth-biggest market for tourists, welcoming 501,000 overnight visitors from China.

Ties between China and the UAE have strengthened since the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in July 2018. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, also visited China last month. During his visit, a raft of new trade deals between the two countries were announced.