Dubai developer Sobha is on track to hit Dh2.5 billion ($680 million) in sales this year as the UAE property market recovers from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The company, which is building the $4bn Sobha Hartland master development near Mohammed bin Rashid City, sold Dh600m worth of units in the first quarter of this year and handed over multiple units to customers during the second quarter, Francis Alfred, chief executive and managing director of Sobha Realty told The National.
“We are very well on course and we are doing exceptionally well in terms of our sales and project deliveries,” Mr Alfred said. “Things are started moving at a much rapid pace than which was happening last year and we have good bookings in terms of villas and apartments.”
Sobha Hartland is an 8 million square foot (743,223 square metre) project first announced in 2014. The master development is being built in phases and is expected to be complete by 2025.
The company aims to deliver 1,600 units by the end of 2021 as it completes 50 per cent of the construction work at Sobha Hartland.
“We have launched villa plots in the first quarter and we almost sold out all the plots and we launched an apartment project called Sobha Waves with 592 units in the second quarter that is going on well in terms of sales,” Mr Alfred, said.
More than half of the company’s customers are UAE-based, with overseas buyers from India, China, Africa, Europe and other Gulf countries making up the rest.
“In 2020, there was not much movement in terms of Chinese sales but this year we started seeing more sales from China, India and also from Europe.”
Other developers are also reporting higher sales as the property market recovers from the pandemic-induced slowdown. Emaar, Dubai’s biggest listed developer reported a 250 per cent jump in property sales in the first five months of 2021 to Dh10.5bn.
“The market has been performing very well in the last four to five months’ time and we believe that this trend should go on,” he said.
“One good reason is the (Dubai) Expo is around the corner and a lot more investors are coming in. We have also seen how the policies and visa norms have been eased by the government including (the introduction of the) golden visa, investor visas … 100,000 coders.”
Earlier last year, the UAE widened its 10-year "golden" visa system to attract foreign professionals and to encourage them to settle for longer periods.
Medical doctors, a wide range of scientists, data experts and PhD holders will be able to easily secure long-term residency. It also plans to provide 100,000 golden visas to the best computer programming talent both in the UAE and across the globe.
New measures taken by the UAE government to control the spread of the pandemic through a wide-scale vaccination programme are also helping the property market rebound, he said.
As of Friday, the UAE had administered 16.2 million doses, covering more than 75 per cent of its total population, according to Bloomberg's vaccine tracker.
“The UAE, particularly Dubai did very well in keeping the effects of pandemic under control. It has shown that this is the place for people to come and invest and reside. We have seen that lot of international investors are coming and becoming the first time buyers in UAE.”
Sobha Group was founded by chairman PNC Menon, who began his business with an interior decorating company in Oman in the 1970s. His group now develops properties across India, Oman and the UAE.
The company also plans to start new master developments in Dubai in the future, Mr Alfred said.
“We have plans to continue having big master developments like Hartland in the UAE. We will soon be coming out with details.” The new projects will be financed through a mix of debt and equity.
Property prices in Dubai rose by 2.1 per cent monthly in June to Dh924 per square foot (Dh9,945 per square metre), the Property Monitor monthly market report said earlier this month. Since bottoming out in November, prices have risen by more than 12 per cent, it said.