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What Dubai’s united nations of property buyers want

An apartment near a beach in Dubai is unlikely to appeal to Brits, according to property experts Dubai Tourism
Brits are likely to prioritise schools and amenities such as golf courses over living near a beach in Dubai, according to property experts
  • Britons prioritise availability of amenities
  • Indians want apartments and good RoI
  • Russians, Ukrainians head to the beach

When purchasing a property in Dubai amenities are important to Brits, while Indian buyers are all about the return on investment, according to real estate experts.

Last year Dubai recorded 1.6 million real estate transactions, a record 17 percent year-on-year increase, according to data from the Dubai Land Department.

The demand comes from a largely expatriate population – foreign workers make up 90 percent of people living in Dubai – with more than 200 nationalities living in the emirate.

And each has its own preference when it comes to property.

“In our studies, we have seen that while more Indians are inclined to purchase for a higher return on investment [RoI], British nationals show more interest in the amenities while making their purchases, such as community centres, shopping malls and golf courses,” said Mohammed Tahaineh, general manager of projects at Damac Properties.

This was backed up by Dubai-based real estate company Allsopp & Allsopp, who revealed that British buyers made up more than 58 percent of sales in Jumeirah Golf Estates in February and 37.5 percent of sales in Arabian Ranches as they looked more for villas and townhouses.

“British buyers are searching for homes in close proximity to golf courses and schools from our current data,” said Paul Kelly, operations director at Allsopp & Allsopp.

Indian buyers, on the other hand, have a preference for apartment living, accounting for almost half of total sales in Jumeirah Lake Towers, said Kelly.

“From our current data, we noticed trends of Indians searching for homes that offer them easier access and convenience, looking for a more community feel,” he said.

It is a similar story for Chinese investors, who are flocking to the emirate in the wake of Covid restrictions being lifted and concerns over domestic real estate.

Emaar Properties, Dubai’s largest developer, reported a significant increase in Chinese investments, accounting for 7 percent of total sales in the first half of 2023, up from 4 percent the previous year.

“Our Chinese demographics include working individuals, entrepreneurs, business owners and high-ranking executives as well as families with children,” said Tahaineh. 

“The Chinese nationals also look to purchase for good RoI from our properties.”

The number of Russian tourists and investors in Dubai leapt in the year after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, as Russian businesses sought a safe haven free of sanctions imposed on them by the West.

Suchit Odhrani, client manager at real estate agency Betterhomes, said both Russians and Ukrainians favour beachside properties or developments close to the beach.

“Coming from naturally colder countries, beachside properties excite them the most,” he said.

Unsurprisingly, Odhrani said Emiratis and GCC nationals prefer larger properties that are more secluded.

“They enjoy the proximity to the desert and often spend time there during winters with their families. They also appreciate closed kitchens and separate majlis [sitting] areas for men,” he said.

He added that Turkish buyers typically seek properties in central areas such as Downtown Dubai and Business Bay “close to their workplaces and commercial districts”.

“Historically we saw that when buyers were coming in from mainland Europe most of the time they were more focused on second homes and that was more resort-style living, something that was different from what they had access to in mainland Europe,” said Taimur Khan, head of Middle East research at CBRE.

“But I think that’s changed where there are better products available within the city centre itself… so they’re willing to go for that type of product rather than just resort types of assets.”

Biggest Dubai property buyers by nationality, 2023

1 India 2 UK 3 Russia 4 Egypt 5 Lebanon
6 Italy 7 Pakistan 8 UAE 9 France 10 Jordan

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