Dubai’s Sobha Realty targets Dh2.5bn in sales in 2021 on hopes of market recovery

Vaccine discovery and new government initiatives will boost property market, president says

Dubai skyline seen from Deyaar properties on Business Bay.
(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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Dubai developer Sobha Realty is targeting Dh2.5 billion ($680.7 million) in sales next year and plans to launch a number of new projects within its $4bn Sobha Hartland master development in Mohammed bin Rashid City as the market recovers, according to its president.

"A large chunk of sales will come from different projects within Sobha Hartland. We will be launching projects continuously," Jyotsna Hegde told The National. She declined to put a value on the projects being undertaken, but said they would be financed through a mix of debt and equity.

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.

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.

Dubai-based Sobha Realty had targeted sales of Dh2bn this year, but the company "lost about three months [of sales]" after movement restrictions were enforced earlier this year. It now expects to achieve about 70 per cent of this target, or Dh1.4bn, Ms Hegde says.

“We did very well in the first two and half months and we are doing well now. From June onwards, there has been a revival and things have started improving. July, August, September and October have been fairly good.”

Residents living in the UAE have been actively buying property, Ms Hegde said. She expects this trend to continue in the coming months as changes to visa rules open opportunities to target retirees and vaccine developments offer more optimism for the global economy.

“There has been interest from outside [from those who are] looking to invest in Dubai as a second home. Retirement visas and a lot of visa rules have been relaxed, that will support the market.”

Dubai, a Middle East trade and tourism hub, said in September it would grant visas to wealthy foreign retirees that are renewable every five years.

The UAE government earlier this week also widened its 10-year "golden" visa system to attract foreign professionals and to encourage them to settle for longer.

Medical doctors, a wide range of scientists, data experts and PhD holders will be able to easily secure long-term residency. Pupils who leave high school with top marks would also be eligible – along with their families. Students leaving universities with a GPA of 3.8 will also be included.

Sobha Realty surpassed its sales target of Dh2bn in 2019, with 1,491 units sold to local and international investors, Ms Hegde said.

"We have established ourselves as a very serious player in the market with the ability to deliver what we promised. In the last few deliveries, we have been able to communicate to the market how we are different from others.”

Dubai’s residential sector enjoyed a more active third quarter, as pent-up sales demand drove transactions and lower rents led to tenants relocating, according to consultancy Chestertons.

Residential transactions totalled 7,849 units in the third quarter, representing a near 50 per cent quarter-on-quarter rise. However, total transactions dropped 21.7 per cent year-on-year due to the economic slowdown induced by the coronavirus pandemic.

Apartment prices fell 11.4 per cent year-on-year during the third quarter, while villas prices fell 5.6 per cent.