Annual Dubai property expo tries to look upbeat as real estate sales fail to pick up

Dubai expo seeking to be upbeat despite doldrums in market

A possible surge in demand for property in regional and other emerging markets could lift real estate and construction sectors in the Middle East, it is claimed.

The latest official figures though show that the Dubai real estate market is still in the doldrums and sales so far this year have failed to increase compared with 2009.

At the opening of the 2010 Cityscape Global real estate event at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre the mood was upbeat despite it being smaller with fewer exhibitors and visitors.

It is being staged against a backdrop where real estate prices have fallen by 50% in places like Dubai and foreign investors and buyers have been shunning the market. Two years ago it was a glitzy event with mega projects being launched amid fanfares and fireworks.

Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, opened the exhibition which is in its ninth year and now focuses on international emerging markets.

‘Our expectations for this year are still very positive given the market conditions. In terms of exhibition space we’ve reduced about 10 to 15% but I think given the market conditions and given everything that’s happened it’s a sign that people want the confidence to return to the market,’ said Rohan Marwaha, chief executive officer of Cityscape.

The event is showcasing properties from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, among other places with more than 200 exhibitors taking part and 30,000 visitors expected.

The latest official figures though show that property sales in Dubai are not picking up. They amounted to  AED9.63 billion in the first six months of the year, about half the amount for all of 2009.

The emirate’s property prices may drop another 20% as 41,000 new homes are put on the market by the end of this year, aggravating an existing glut, according to Ahmed Badr, a Dubai based analyst for Credit Suisse Group.

The value of property sales last year slumped 72% from 2008 to AED19.5 billion. The number of transactions in 2009 dropped to 2,327 from 5,916 a year earlier.

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