Dubai Land Department, part of Dubai Government, plans to ramp up efforts to promote UAE real estate to prospective Chinese investors, with the goal of attracting at least Dh1 billion of inward property investment in 2019, officials said.
“We are targeting an expansion [of our presence] in China this year, because the results of our last efforts were strong with high levels of investment after we opened offices in Beijing and Shanghai,” Majida Ali Rashed, chief executive of DLD’s Real Estate Investment and Promotion and Management Sector, told reporters on Tuesday.
Dubai recorded Dh162bn worth of real estate transactions in the first nine months of 2018 – the latest period for which figures are available, according to DLD.
Investors from China accounted for Dh1.7bn of the total, and Chinese investors were among the top four foreign nationalities who invested in Dubai, alongside Indians, Britons and Pakistanis.
DLD opened its two representative offices in China in the past two years including Beijing last June, and aims to open a third in the southern industrial city of Shenzhen, as well as other regions. “We are targeting different areas of China,” Ms Rashed said.
The department also signed a cooperation agreement with the foreign trade office of Guangzhou in June, intended to pave the way for fresh promotional activity there.
The current economic slowdown is China is unlikely to negatively impact Chinese investment in UAE real estate, “because the country has come up with a solution” to curtail any impact on consumer purchasing power, Ms Rashed added.
China recorded its slowest GDP growth since 1990 in the last quarter of 2018 following years of rapid growth. In response to the slowdown and headwind from ongoing trade disputes with the US, China’s government launched monetary and fiscal stimulus packages last year and allowed its currency, the renminbi, to weaken.
DLD representatives told reporters on Tuesday the department has received 800 real estate-related enquiries from Chinese nationals since its dedicated China investment and promotion unit was set up in November 2017. Chinese developers including Sanxiang Group and BTL Hospitality are among companies that have expressed an intent to invest in Dubai by around 2020.
The department is also working to support UAE-based developers wanting to expand in China. It led 11 roadshows to China in 2018, on behalf of developers including Dubai’s Emaar Properties, Abu Dhabi-based Bloom Holding, Deyaar Development, Sobha Real Estate and free zone developer Dubai Sports City.
Russia and India are the two other most important markets for DLD, Ms Rashed said. In addition, there are plans to open new offices in markets including the UK and US – where DLD already has a promotional office but wants to expand its presence – Canada, Africa and Germany.
Despite average real estate values falling in the UAE on the back of a prolonged oil price slump since 2014, the market has recorded overall strong levels of transaction volumes and activity, she added.
DLD director general Sultan Butti Bin Mejren said in a statement: “This year has already been an active year for us after having received a huge delegation from the US and Singapore. These activities will continue throughout the year to progress the success we achieved in previous years.”