How the Nakheel-Meydan merger will shake up Dubai's real estate market

Move may lead to improved project quality and a more streamlined delivery of master projects across the city, experts say

Villas on the fronds of the The Palm Jumeirah. The development is part of Nakheel's portfolio. AP
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The merger between Nakheel and Meydan – two of Dubai’s largest developers – under the Dubai Holding umbrella will make the companies more efficient and better positioned to capitalise on the soaring demand for real estate in the emirate, property experts said.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced the move on Saturday.

The conglomerate, owned by the Dubai government, also includes Jumeirah Group, Dubai Properties, and Tecom Group in its portfolio.

"As the emirate’s real estate market continues to expand and mature, I can see that this is a smart move as it will be more efficient for these huge businesses to merge and sit under the Dubai Holding umbrella,” said Simon Baker, managing director of Dubai real estate agency haus & haus, told The National. “This means they will be able to consolidate resources, increase market share and capitalise on synergies to better exploit the current soaring demand."

Inside Dh56m property on Dubai's Palm

Inside Dh56m property on Dubai's Palm

Dubai’s property market rebounded strongly from the coronavirus pandemic slowdown on the back of government measures and higher oil prices.

In 2023, Dubai registered a record 17 per cent annual jump in real estate transactions to 1.6 million across market segments, the latest data from the Dubai Land Department show.

The overall number included real estate deals from investments, mortgages and sales transactions to rental contracts recorded last year, up from about 1.3 million transactions reported in 2022.

Experts also said the merger may lead to improved quality and a more streamlined delivery of master projects across the city. For example, the addition of Meraas to Dubai Holding’s portfolio in 2020 had “positive effects” in term of project quality and delivery, Mark Richards, managing director at Luxury Property, told The National.

Bluewaters Island and Madinat Jumeirah Living – the two key Meraas projects at the start of the pandemic – have since “become so popular that it's rare to find units on the market any more”, Mr Richards said. “Both projects also offer excellent amenities to complement the residential units."

Nakheel’s master developments span 15,000 hectares and include The Palm Jumeirah, The World Islands, Jumeirah Islands, Jumeirah Park, Jumeirah Village, Al Furjan, The Gardens, Discovery Gardens, Jebel Ali Village and Nad Al Sheba Villas.

Nakheel also owns a diverse range of retail and hospitality projects across Dubai. The company’s portfolio includes The St Regis Dubai, The Palm, Premier Inn Ibn Battuta Mall, Avani Ibn Battuta, Riu Dubai and the Centara Mirage Beach Resort Dubai.

Meanwhile, the Meydan Group’s portfolio includes the Meydan Racecourse, which offers a full season of horse racing, as well as real estate projects such as Mohammed bin Rashid City.

“Each individual developer also has its own land banks, and the consolidation of these land banks will result in more opportunities to deliver well-planned master communities," Mr Richards said. “In terms of global competitiveness, this merger will allow for infrastructure to be scaled up more easily."

Dubai's prime residential market is set for strong growth this year, driven primarily by supply limitations and resurgence in demand from key source markets such as China and India.

Property prices in the emirate's prime markets, including The Palm Jumeirah, Emirates Hills and Jumeirah Bay, are expected to rise by 5 per cent in 2024, Knight Frank said in a report last year.

The Nakheel-Meydan merger is also expected to advance the goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 plan, which was launched in January last year. D33 aims to double the size of Dubai’s economy, with a target of reaching Dh32 trillion ($8.713 trillion) by 2033, and establishing the emirate among the top three global cities.

The 10-year programme also seeks to establish Dubai as the world’s safest and most connected city, as well as making it a preferred destination for major international companies and investments.

Incorporating Nakheel and Meydan into Dubai Holding aligns with the emirate’s Urban 2040 plan, which aims to revitalise the city's key urban areas such as Deira, Bur Dubai, Downtown Dubai and Business Bay, Prathyusha Gurrapu, head of research and consultancy at Cushman and Wakefield, told The National.

“[It] helps with Dubai’s vision of being the leading global property market by creating holistic and competitive real estate product offerings across asset classes under the single strong governance of Dubai Holding,” Ms Gurrapu added.

The announcement comes as Emaar Properties, Dubai's largest listed developer, benefits from increased property sales in the UAE and its expansion into new markets. Emaar reported a 70 per cent annual jump in its 2023 financial year net profit, supported by growth in tourism, retail sales and rising real estate demand, the company said in February.

“The strategic initiatives undertaken in the past two years, coupled with enhancements in consumer confidence and overall business dynamics, especially in the real estate and retail sector, have significantly influenced our company’s operations throughout the previous year,” Mohamed Alabbar, founder of Emaar, said at the time.

The UAE’s real estate market is projected to reach $710 billion by the end of this year, with the residential sector accounting for about $410 billion, Statista said.

The US, China, India, Germany, and Japan are currently the biggest housing markets worldwide.

Residential property transactions in China amounted to an estimated $113.5 trillion in 2023, with forecasts suggesting an increase to $132.8 trillion by 2028, passing those of the US, the data portal said.

Updated: March 19, 2024, 5:46 AM