There has been a lot of talk around the office this week about new off-plan launches. We have seen the launch of not just a new off-plan project in Dubai but also an entirely new location - Dubai Harbour. The island which is to be developed by Meraas in conjunction with Emaar is located on King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street, in the area between Jumeirah Beach Residence and the Palm Jumeirah.
The master plan of this city is truly staggering. The ability to create a new island like Dubai Harbour from the sea is nothing short of incredible. Of course, the Palm Jumeirah is already a masterpiece of engineering. The Victorians and ancient Egyptians would marvel at our ingenuity, civil engineering skills and of course the vision of this country's leaders.
Within 4 years of commencement of works, this new island will be inhabited and become an iconic luxury waterfront destination, spread over 20 million square feet which will include a 1,400-berth marina, a cruise ship port and terminal, a shopping mall covering 3.5 million sq ft, an events arena, residential buildings, hotels, offices, retail stores, public services, restaurants and cafes and the Dubai Lighthouse.
The ability to deliver large-scale infrastructure projects of this nature is one of the things I respect about Dubai. Having cut my teeth as a developer of student accommodation in the UK, I know first-hand how difficult development can be. I am amazed at the sheer volume of such major infrastructure works - Expo 2020, Dubai Creek Harbour, Dubai South, Al Maktoum International Airport to name but a few. What's more impressive is that all these enormous infrastructure projects are being delivered simultaneously. This delivery is symbolic of the ethos of Dubai - dream big, plan well and ultimately deliver.
Yet, despite the city's obvious abilities to deliver, I find when dealing with our private clients that questions remain about off-plan investment in Dubai. Will Dubai deliver? Will these new buildings get finished? Who is going to live in them?
Will Dubai deliver?
In general, I have no issue with delivery of projects in Dubai. In the past, the city has had issues with developers failing to fulfill their contractual obligations in terms of delivery, but those days are well behind us. Good governance by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency and the Dubai Land Department has resulted in projects being delivered on a just-in-time basis. Let's be honest, very few projects get delivered absolutely on time and as such, our private client office advises our clients to expect a 3 to 6 month-delay in completion.
Will these new buildings get finished?
Yes, of course, they will. I marvel at the progress of these developments. Dubai Hills Estate appears to literally grow an apartment building every day. District One is now a vibrant community with phase 2 well on the way to delivery and progress at Jumeirah Bay Island with the new Bulgari Resort & Residences is very impressive. Off-plan investment in Dubai is a very good option. Developers are well-structured, well-funded and the escrow system is now fully established with buyer's funds more than adequately protected by law.
Who will live in these buildings?
A question I often ask myself. The population of Dubai is expanding and the city is now home to many, and not just a destination - a place where people bring up their children, a safe haven with world-class healthcare and education. The population clock is ticking with 2,988,712 people in Dubai as of January 2018. Growth predictions show the population touching over 5 million by 2027. The city constantly evolves but does not lose sense of its identity. Safety and security are so good that we never give either issue a second thought. I recognise the supply versus demand matrix may look skewered towards an oversupply at the moment but I feel confident that the ongoing population growth will redress that perceived imbalance.