Dubai 2040 Urban Plan to 'revitalise' the post-pandemic property market

New blueprint will ensure Expo site is an integral part of city's future, while encouraging people to buy in Dubai South and Silicon Oasis

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A new master plan to transform Dubai will ensure the Expo 2020 site will be an integral part of the city's development long after the event is over, property experts said.

The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid on Saturday, has the goal of making the city the most desirable in the world to live in.

It plans to physically extend the city far into the desert, with 60 per cent of the total area occupied by green space, while boosting the population from just over 3 million to 5.8m in 20 years.

Property experts told The National homeowners would be among the big winners – especially those in areas on the outskirts of the city, which will now become major hubs.

Right now you will get a lot more real estate for a dirham per square foot in Dubai South than you would in the Marina or Downtown

The emirate will be split into five main urban areas, which include the newly developed Expo 2020 and Silicon Oasis regions of the city.

“A lot of people were wondering what was going to happen after Expo 2020?” said Mario Volpi, sales and leasing manager at Engel and Volkers.

"It's one thing to have a six-month extravaganza, but what happens after that?

“This will go a long way to answering that question.”

The five urban areas in the plan are the historic Deira / Bur Dubai by the Creek, Downtown / Business Bay (retail and finance hub), Dubai Marina / JBR (tourism and entertainment), Expo 2020 (international gate for exhibitions) and Dubai Silicon Oasis (knowledge and innovation centre).

Mr Volpi said the plan represented opportunities for those who own, or are thinking of buying properties in Dubai South – where the Expo 2020 site is – or in Dubai Silicon Oasis.

“Now is a great time to invest in those areas as the prices are more affordable simply because there isn't a lot out there right now,” he said.

“Once you start to add facilities like malls and invest in transport links like Metros, you will find more people will want to live there and prices will go up as a result.

“Right now you will get a lot more real estate for a dirham per square foot in Dubai South than you would in the Marina or Downtown because it is not as established.”

He said the new blueprint would build on plans to expand the area around the Expo site, which were already in place, with areas like Arjan already beginning to take shape.

Long-term plan for Expo site

The widespread adoption of working from home due to the pandemic has changed the way people think about where they live, added Mr Volpi.

“It has shown that for some sectors it doesn’t matter where you live – you can still work from home,” he said.

“I know if there are more facilities than just a café and a chemist, people are more likely to live, work and play there.”

Another property expert said the new urban plan would go a long way to revitalising the post-pandemic property market in the emirate.

“The five main urban areas, as well as the two new centres that have been announced, will likely lead to increased competitiveness among real estate players, from developers to property services providers,” said John Stevens, executive director of property management at Asteco.

“The new Expo 2020 centre has a clear long-term vision to attract more residents and tourists through the availability of affordable housing, outstanding logistics and tourism facilities.

“Similarly, the Dubai Silicon Oasis centre will accelerate innovation across all sectors including the property market, adding value throughout the entire value chain and enhancing the real estate experience for all stakeholders.”

He said planning for the future was a characteristic Dubai had mastered.

The blueprint will make both Dubailand and Silicon Oasis key hubs, according to Chris Hobden, head of consultancy at Chestertons.

“District 2020 and Dubai Silicon Oasis form core components of the 2040 Urban Master Plan, expanding their existing strengths to advance sustainable development and economic growth,” he said.

“The vision for District 2020 capitalises on key transport infrastructure, such as Al Maktoum International Airport and Jebel Ali Port, to support hospitality, conferences and events, as well as industrial and logistics activities.

“Dubai Silicon Oasis will form the backbone of the emirate’s science, innovation and education offering, building on the area’s current capabilities to draw new investment across science and technology sectors.”

Dubai 2040 Urban Plan pictured