The UAE property market is expected to recover in the second half of this year, driven by government initiatives and a widespread vaccination programme, according to a Dubai developer.
"The efforts of the government to continue with the vaccination ... are definitely having a positive impact on the market and we see that in the sales and the kind of site visits we have," Sobha Realty president Jyotsna Hegde told The National.
“I am very hopeful and positive on how 2021 is shaping up. By the middle of 2021, there should be a reasonable recovery.”
The UAE is moving ahead with its vaccination programme and intends to inoculate half of its population by the end of March. More than 5 million vaccine doses have already been administered, state news agency Wam reported on Saturday.
Other countries should also “achieve some level of vaccination success by mid-2021, which could open up travel to a large extent in the second half of the year, which should also benefit us positively”, she said.
Government reforms such as the expansion of the 10-year golden visa initiative to encourage foreign professionals to settle in the UAE and the granting of citizenship to investors and talented people will help the market recover, she said.
“These are all exciting developments. This shows the world that Dubai is very investor-friendly and very dynamic," she said.
"The time taken from thought to action is extremely short and is very encouraging for people to build their businesses and a home here.”
Sobha, which is building the $4 billion Sobha Hartland project near Mohammed bin Rashid City in Dubai, plans to hit Dh2.5bn in sales this year.
It achieved Dh250 million in sales last month and February is “progressing well”, said Ms Hegde.
“We had a good mix of international and domestic clients in January."
Apart from the customers from the UAE, GCC countries, India and China, “there has been some active interest from markets that were not active before such as Europe and Canada”, she said.
“My assumption is that there is an increased interest in Dubai, considering the way the Covid situation has been handled and the kind of infrastructure that is provided here.
"There is a lot of interest from an international community looking for a destination ˗ especially people who are not bound by geographies and people who work out of any place.”
The UAE property market slowed after a three-year oil price slump that began in 2014.
Since then, property prices have remained depressed amid concerns about oversupply, with the coronavirus-induced slowdown mounting further pressure last year.
Dubai apartment prices fell by 9.5 per cent last year while rents declined by about 12.4 per cent.
Villa prices recorded a more moderate drop of 3.6 per cent while rents fell by 5.3 per cent, according to the latest report from Chestertons.
However, the market is showing signs of recovery and a weaker dollar makes it more attractive to foreign investors.
The residential market in Dubai had healthy transaction levels last month, fuelled by ready unit sales and mortgages, according to the latest report from EFG Hermes.
Sales of ready units in January more than doubled to Dh4.3bn from a year ago while the value of mortgage transactions rose more than seven-fold to Dh9.5bn.
Ms Hegde said the developer could only achieve 50 per cent of its Dh2bn sales target in 2020 due to the challenges posed by Covid-19.
Sobha Realty delivered 500 units last year and aims to deliver 1,300 units this year.
Ms Hegde said the developer plans to start work on new projects in new locations in Dubai but refused to divulge further details.
“All projects will be financed through a mix of debt and equity. All our funding requirements are being currently met by national and international banks.”
The company’s partnership with state-owned Dubai developer Meydan on the District One project in Mohammed bin Rashid City ended “in an amicable way” after the completion of the first phase of the project, she said.