AN AMUSING STORY… IF IT WASN’T SO SERIOUS!

By Mohanad Alwadiya
CEO, Harbor Real Estate
Senior Advisor & Instructor, Dubai Real Estate Institute

When it comes to amusement, I have always thought that Dubai has a definite competitive advantage in that it is uniquely placed. With its geographic location, infrastructure, stability, cultural diversity and existing reputation as a leisure destination of note, development as the destination of choice by, not only GCC families and youth, but visitors from all over the world who desire amusement, adventure and unique experiences, will play an increasingly important role in building a strong, vibrant and resilient economy and, of course, property industry.

So, it was with excitement, not amusement, which I read about the latest addition to a city already swelling with entertainment and activity alternatives – the IMG Worlds of Adventure. This amusement park took three years to build and cost more than 3.6 billion dirhams. To be labelled “the world’s largest indoor theme park” is no idle boast, with the complex covering over 1.5 million square feet or around 20 times the size of the pitch at Emirates Stadium in London.

And, wait for it… there is more to come…

The next six months should see an even bigger development which, built at a cost approaching 10 billion dirhams, will include such entertainment icons as LEGOLAND and Bollywood, and a giant water park.

The new theme parks will play a key role in ensuring the emirate’s target of 20 million visitors will be visiting the emirate annually from 2021 will be achieved. Very impressive stuff!

But the reason why I love these latest theme parks is not because I enjoy rollercoaster rides … I will leave that for the more adventurous. I am excited at the effect these fantastic initiatives will have on the economy and, more specifically, the property industry that is so close to my heart.

From an economic point of view, this is very serious business indeed!

Aside from the obvious direct benefits of tens of billions of dirhams being invested into the economy, few people realize the enormous economic contribution theme parks make to the overall economy post launch. It is a cliché, but the world is a small place and the war for providing entrepreneurial and employment opportunities is waged on a global battleground and a successful entertainment and amusement industry is just one economic weapon that Dubai can employ to great effect.

And being a global growth industry, participation cannot be ignored.  Consider the following which was sourced from the TEA/AECOM 2015 Theme Index and Museum Index:

In 2015, there were …

…420 million visits to attractions run by the top 10 global theme park groups, up by 7.2 percent.
…236 million visits to the top 25 amusement/theme parks worldwide, up by 5.4 percent.
…146 million visits to the top 20 amusement/theme parks in North America, up by 5.9 percent.
…131 million visits to the top 20 amusement/theme parks in Asia-Pacific, up by 6.9 percent.
…61 million visits to the top 20 amusement/theme parks in Europe, Middle East and Africa, up by 2.8 percent.
… 29 million visits to the top 20 water parks worldwide, up by 3.7 percent.

In a world that is struggling to generate any form of impressive economic growth, the growth within this industry is truly impressive.

Without doubt, the current world leader with regards to amusement parks is the southern US state of Florida. It’s a fact that theme parks are a major reason why people visit this American state. Here are the top theme parks in Florida and the number of annual visitors they attracted in 2014 according to the TEA/AECOM Theme and Museum Index…

… Magic Kingdom – 19.3 million
… Epcot -11.5 million
… Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 10.4 million
… Disney Hollywood Studios – 10.3 million
… Universal Studios – 8.2 million
… Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios – 8.1 million
… SeaWorld – 4.7 million
… Busch Gardens Tampa Bay – 4.1 million

Truly impressive numbers which only highlight that the economic advantages created by having such a robust entertainment industry are staggering. The state estimates tourism brings in a whopping $82 billion in visitor spending while the State Department of Economic Opportunity says that of the approximately 9.1 million workers in Florida, 1.1 million of them hold jobs directly attributed to tourism. That’s better than 1 worker in 10!

Obviously, the job creation potential of this industry, both direct and indirect is staggering… which is why amusement parks are such serious business. The true long-term value of these projects lies in the long-term economic advantages of employing people and creating commercial activities in order to develop a unique capability to entertain the families and youth of the region and beyond.

And job growth fosters population growth which is critical to any property / real estate Industry. It is the undisputed catalyst to industry growth and the population growth generated by the substantial increase in investment and employment opportunities that a successful foray into the entertainment industry would generate would be and have huge and long-lasting benefits for the property / real estate industry downstream.

Theme Parks, Ahoy!

By Mohanad Alwadiya
CEO, Harbor Real Estate
Senior Advisor & Instructor, Dubai Real Estate Institute

Well, Dubai has done it again!!

The latest addition to a city already swelling with entertainment and activity alternatives is the IMG Worlds of Adventure. This amusement park took three years to build and cost more than 3.6 billion dirhams. To be labelled “the world’s largest indoor theme park” is no idle boast, with the complex covering over 1.5 million square feet or around 20 times the size of the pitch at Emirates Stadium in London.

And, wait for it… there is more to come…

The next six months should see an even bigger development which, built at a cost approaching 10 billion dirhams, will include such entertainment icons as LEGOLAND and Bollywood, and a giant water park.

Dubai has always considered tourism to be a key, increasingly successful and lucrative pillar to the economy, but -the latest additions to its suite of attractions are taking the emirates’ capability to satisfy the appetite of those who pursue world-class entertainment and amusement to a whole new level.

The new theme parks will play a key role in ensuring the emirates’ target of 20 million visitors will be visiting the emirate annually from 2021 will be achieved. Very impressive stuff!

But the reason why I love these latest theme parks is not because I enjoy rollercoaster rides… I will leave that to the more adventurous. I am excited at the effect these fantastic initiatives will have on the economy and, more specifically, the property industry that is so close to my heart.

From an economic point of view, this is very serious business indeed!

Aside from the obvious direct benefits of tens of billions of dirhams being invested into the economy, few people realize the enormous economic contribution theme parks make to the overall economy post launch. It is a cliché, but the world is a small place and the war for providing entrepreneurial and employment opportunities is waged on a global battleground, and a successful entertainment and amusement industry is just one economic weapon that Dubai can employ to great effect.

And being a global growth industry, participation cannot be ignored. Consider the following figures sourced from the TEA/AECOM 2015 Theme Index and Museum Index:

In 2015, there were…

… 420 million visits to attractions run by the Top 10 global theme park groups, up by 7.2 percent.
… 236 million visits to the Top 25 amusement/theme parks worldwide, up by 5.4 percent.
… 146 million visits to the Top 20 amusement/theme parks in North America, up by 5.9 percent.
… 131 million visits to the Top 20 amusement/theme parks in Asia-Pacific, up by 6.9 percent.
… 61 million visits to the Top 20 amusement/theme parks in Europe, Middle East and Africa, up by 2.8 percent.
… 29 million visits to the Top 20 water parks worldwide, up by 3.7 percent.

In a world that is struggling to generate any form of impressive economic growth, the growth within this industry is truly commendable.

Without a doubt, the current world leader with regard to amusement parks is the southern US state of Florida. It’s a fact that theme parks are a major reason why people visit this American state. Here are the top theme parks in Florida and the number of annual visitors they attracted in 2014 according to the TEA/AECOM Theme and Museum Index:

… Magic Kingdom – 19.3 million
… Epcot -11.5 million
… Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 10.4 million
… Disney Hollywood Studios – 10.3 million
… Universal Studios – 8.2 million
… Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios – 8.1 million
… SeaWorld – 4.7 million
… Busch Gardens Tampa Bay – 4.1 million

Truly impressive numbers which only highlight just how the economic advantages that are created by having such a robust entertainment industry is staggering. The state estimates tourism brings in a whopping $82 billion in visitor spending while the State Department of Economic Opportunity says that of the approximately 9.1 million workers in Florida, 1.1 million of them hold jobs directly attributed to tourism. That’s better than 1 worker in 10!

Obviously, the job creation potential of this industry, both direct and indirect, is staggering… which is why I love amusement parks.

Most commentators would relate to the increased building activity that such projects would create; however, the true long-term value of these projects lies in the long-term economic advantages of employing people and creating commercial activities in order to develop a unique capability to entertain the families and youth of the region and beyond.

The local market offers significant opportunity. The GCC, with a total population of just over 40 million people, has one of the youngest populations in the world. Approximately 50 percent of the population in the Arabian Peninsula is below 25 years of age. What a wonderful opportunity this represents for Dubai! The possibility exists for the construction of the only mega family entertainment destination in over 2,500,000 square kilometres of territory. From an economic point of view, the provision of memorable entertainment experiences for the youth and families of the region will have a multiplier effect on the economy as a whole, including the real estate industry.

WHY I LOVE AMUSEMENT PARKS…

By Mohanad Alwadiya
CEO, Harbor Real Estate
Senior Advisor & Instructor, Dubai Real Estate Institute

Theme parks have a huge impact on a country’s economy and property sector
The latest addition to a city swelling with activity alternatives is the IMG Worlds of Adventure. It cost more than Dh3.6 billion. Tobe labelled “the world’s largest indoor theme park” is no idle boast with the complex covering over 1.5 million square feet, around 20 times the size of the pitch at London’s Emirates Stadium.
The next months will see an even bigger development which, built at a cost nearing Dh10 billion, will include LEGOLAND.
Dubai has always considered tourism a lucrative pillar to the economy, but the latest additions to its suite of attractions is taking its capability to satisfy the appetite of those seeking world-class entertainment to a whole new level.
The new theme parks will play a key role in ensuring the emirate’s target of 20 million visitors by 2020 will be achieved.
The reason why I love the latest theme parks is because I am excited at the effect these initiatives will have on the economy and more specifically, the property industry.
The true value of amusement projects lies in the long-term advantages of employing people and creating commercial activities
Theme parks make an enormous contribution to the economy. The war for providing entrepreneurial and job opportunities is waged on a global battleground, and the amusement industry is one weapon Dubai can employ.
Being a global growth industry, participation cannot be ignored. Consider the data from the TEA / AECOM 2015 Theme Index and Museum Index: In 2015, there were 420 million visits to attractions run by the Top 10 global theme park groups, up by 7.2 percent; 236 million visits to the Top 25 amusement/ theme parks worldwide, up by 5.4 percent; 146 million visits to the Top 20 amusement/theme parks in North America, up by 5.9 percent; 131 million visits to the Top 20 amusement/ theme parks in Asia-Pacific, up by 6.9 percent; 61 million visits to the Top 20 amusement/theme parks in Europe, Middle East and Africa, up by 2.8 percent; 29 million visits to the Top 20 waterparks worldwide, up by 3.7 percent.
In a world struggling to generate any form of impressive economic growth, the growth within this industry is laudable. Obviously, its job creation potential is staggering.
The true value of amusement projects lies in the long-term advantages of employing people and creating commercial activities to develop a unique capability to entertain the families and youth of the region and beyond.
The local market offers significant opportunity. The GCC has one of the youngest populations in the world. Approximately 50 per cent of its population is below 25 years. The possibility exists for the construction of the only mega family entertainment destination in over 2,500,000 square kilometres of territory. From an economic point of view, the provision of memorable entertainment experiences must have a multiplier effect on the economy as a whole.
Population growth is critical to any real estate industry, and growth due to an increase in investment and employment opportunities that a successful foray into the entertainment industry generates would be substantial. With an abundance of affordable housing in the coming years, much of it located within easy distance of the theme parks, investment in the amusement industry can have huge benefits for the property downstream.
Dubai has a competitive advantage as it is uniquely placed. With its infrastructure, stability, cultural diversity and reputation as a leisure destination, a development that is a destination of choice by not only GCC families and youth but also visitors from all over the world will play an important role in building a vibrant and resilient economy and, of course, property industry.

mohanad_professional

Gulf News Freehold – Expert Eye

Why invest in real estate

before 2016?

The opportunities that have emerged so far will be too good to pass up

There have been a number of reports recently estimating the effect of the correction on Dubai’s real estate market. The most recent forecast shows a reduction of anywhere between 10% and 20% by the end of 2015.

The opportunities that have emerged so far in 2015 and will continue to emerge as the year progresses will be too good to pass up. Why is this, you ask? Oil prices are not expected to go anywhere soon. The decline of the Russian ruble has effectively made offshore investing too expensive. There is a growing oversupply, and the inevitable interest rate increases on the US dollar and its dirham cousin will further hamper liquidity. While these considerations are valid and worth considering, we need to put our positive hat on for a while.

Put simply, Dubai needs people to support an economy that is expected to grow at an estimated 5% annually for the remainder of the decade and to deliver initiatives such as the Expo 2020. The event alone is expected to drive demand for housing and commercial facilities that currently do not exist. Much of the city’s planning comprehends the number of people living in the emirate to grow to 3.4 million people by 2020; a 7% annual increase from today’s 2.25 million.

While the price of oil is a big issue for the region’s economies, the effect of the decline in oil prices is not as drastic as some may think. The Dubai economy is being driven by fundamentals such as tourism and trade, and a slew of projects to grow these important revenue-generating economic segments. Dubai has attracted almost 12 million visitors in 2014, continuing a growth trend of approximately 9% per annum since 2010.

And those visitor numbers will seem paltry once the Expo kicks off. Hosting the event will provide additional impetus for the industry to enjoy continued growth and the predictable surge in demand for accommodation and commercial space of all types.

We all know that the ongoing speculation surrounding the US Federal Reserve’s intention to raise interest rates is making many people nervous. However, we can be sure that interest rates in the US will eventually rise and the dirham will continue to get stronger. To invest in a market that is undergoing a 10% to 20% correction in a currency that is certain to appreciate only makes sense, especially when finance is still cheap and will remain so for quite some time to come.

While on the topic of certainty, there is no doubt that a stabilized real estate market will provide a much better launch pad for what will be a period of significant economic and commercial activity over the next five to seven years. The structural shift towards more affordable housing will not only serve to accommodate expected rapid population growth associated with the Expo, but also serve as an important factor in the development of the Dubai economy overall.

Every emerging economy needs to develop a strong middle class as its expansion is critical to growing a sustainable economy and developing resilience in the face of external financial and economic shocks. For Dubai to compete effectively on a regional and global basis, it needs to ensure that the cost of doing business in the emirate does not position it as an outlier when entrepreneurs or corporations are considering alternatives for their operations.

Talking of alternatives, there is an array of asset choice which has not been seen for some time. The availability of off-plan purchases with highly lucrative payment plans is unprecedented. There are investment opportunities in every segment of the market supported by the most affordable payment plans.

This year will be remembered as a year of the astute investor. Don’t miss out.

Right time to grow your portfolio

Even though some buyers continue to maintain a ‘wait and see’ approach as property prices continue to soften, if you have invested in Dubai property, especially in key growth areas, then hold on to your portfolio. In fact, we would advise you to, if possible, add to your portfolio.

Dubai’s economy is still doing very well although the IMF forecast for UAE economic growth this year is down to 3 per cent compared to last year’s 4.6 per cent, which is quite understandable considering the after-effects of the recent oil price slump on economy. Having gradually weaned the country away from overdependence on oil, the UAE remains in a good fiscal position as it proceeds with economic diversification.

The UAE economy is being driven by tourism and trade, and a slew of successful new projects that will complement these important revenue-generating economic segments which continue to be a primary feature of Dubai’s growth outlook. In 2014, Dubai welcomed over 12 million visitors, continuing a growth trend of approximately 9 percent per annum since 2010, a statistic which is the envy of many nations.

The ‘soft landing’ of the UAE economy is by no means bad news as it is simply indicative of more gradual sustainable growth overall which, in turn, is supported by the following factors:

The market is in a healthy state of revaluation and consolidation, not recession. The reduction in growth rates is necessary to ensure the type of sustainable, profitable growth that long-term investors seek becomes a recognized characteristic of the Dubai market. The market has demonstrated its maturity and resilience by recovering post-global financial crisis and is now adjusting to more sustainable value appreciation levels.

Strong demand for property. When you are investing in real estate, you are actually investing in the economy, and the effect of the 2020 Expo on the UAE economy cannot be underrated in terms of generating demand for real estate assets. Hosting the World Expo will provide additional impetus for the industry to enjoy continued growth, and the predictable surge in demand for accommodation and commercial space of all types, from labor camps to offices to warehouses to apartments to executive villas, is sure to have a significant effect on property values.

Investor appetite and confidence remain for off-plan and under-construction projects especially for those launched by reputable developers. Outside of tier one developer-led schemes, there has been strong performance in recent launches outside of prime locations and emerging areas.

The low mortgage rates of today are unprecedented and, notwithstanding possible interest rate rises in the US later this year as the dollar continues to strengthen, will still be affordable in the ensuing five years. We should remember that affordable finance and demand for real estate assets are inseparable.

The market is approaching maturity. The on-going development of the industry’s regulatory framework and the implementation of laws to safeguard both consumer and investor interests, and the overall industry and economy at large from rampant and irresponsible speculative, predatory or unethical practices, reveal a mature and balanced approach to shaping an industry which will exhibit sustainable growth over the long term.

If it’s superior yield with minimal capital outlay that you are after, Dubai real estate is still hard to beat unlike older established cities like Hong Kong and Singapore which currently suffer from high costs of housing, especially the former where only 50 percent of residents own their homes. Affordable properties have all benefitted from Dubai’s recovering economy. Investors in these areas can reasonably expect rental returns of at least 7 percent per annum on top of annual capital appreciation. Given the relatively low cost of entry, even with the overall economic slowdown predicted to continue well into the coming year, buyers in growth areas such as Dubai land will see greater financial rewards for their astuteness and patience in due course.

There is definitely a shortage of affordable housing in Dubai. The number of developments that will be supplying housing affordable to the middle and lower income segments is definitely on the increase, more so in the run up to the 2020 World Expo. Historically, the established developments that were most associated with filling the affordable housing gap were international City, Discovery Gardens and, to a lesser extent, MotorCity. But there have been more recent additions that have provided realistic alternatives to these older developments, and several more to come.

Still, as both buyers and sellers are sticking to their negotiating positions with more determination and a greater propensity to walk away from the negotiating table if not satisfied, the real estate cycle will continue on its course. Prices may continue to soften, but what is more important is that the market does not go down on a steep fall, and keeps to its current sustainable path.

mohanad_professional

Why it is a good time to buy property in Dubai

The market has been cooling for around a year now,

but is expected to pick up again in 2016

I receive so many questions regarding the current state of the market and whether now would be a good time to buy. My answer is invariably yes, especially as the market has become attractive with opportunities available and advantages to be gained from purchasing now.

The market has been cooling for around a year now, but is expected to pick up again in 2016 as the next five years are expected to see strong economic growth in Dubai. Picking the exact timing is always difficult but it is better to be early rather than late and starting early will be a prime determinant of your success.

I recommend you start your property search immediately as a property investment requires the same approach and set of considerations regardless of the state of the market and proper due diligence can take time. You are embarking on a major purchase which has the potential to affect your life in either an extremely positive or negative way. So you need to make a timely decision, not a hasty one.

Be critical in determining what you can afford. If you have-the cash, I suggest you pay for your new purchase outright. However, don’t be afraid to take out a mortgage… just be sure you fully understand what mortgage ‘repayments are going to do to lifestyle and whether you are prepared to make some sacrifices to own your own property. Make sure that you consider the many and varied easy payment plans that are currently on offer as many of these plans will save you considerable amounts of money.

Think carefully about location, surrounding infrastructure, construction quality and developer reputation and building amenities. Properties which are close to the beach, with a sea view, a golf course view or part of an iconic development such as Downtown usually provide good returns. If you have close access to the Metro, even better.

When buying an apartment, you also need to consider the efficacy of the owners’ association, costs associated with service charges and the quality of maintenance services as these will impact the long-term value of your investment. Finally, be purposeful, persistent, patient and pragmatic in your approach and you are well on the way to making a sound decision.

wolfofrealestate

H1 2015… and where are we?

Mohanad Alwadiya, MD of Harbor Real Estate & Instructor at
the Dubai Real Estate Institute, the Official
Training & Certification Arm of the Dubai Land Department

For the past 6 months, headlines have been making many and varied references to the Real Estate correction in Dubai. This is not surprising as yes; indeed, Dubai’s Real Estate industry is in the midst of a correction. For many, the term “correction” is viewed with suspicion and trepidation, particularly those with a more tactical, less strategic, short term point of view. For those who are taking the long term perspective, the term “correction” is viewed with anticipation as the term refers to the elimination of systemic issues and making the necessary adjustments to deal with impacts of external issues on the efficient operation of the real estate market itself.

There is no doubt that a “correction” was overdue. 2013 will long be remembered as Dubai’s comeback year as the total value of Real Estate transactions reached AED 234 Billion, a 52% increase in the prior year which was clearly unsustainable as witnessed when the correction began in 2014 when AED 218 Billion worth of real estate assets were sold, a reduction of over AED 16 Billion on the prior year. At the time of writing, just over AED 63 Billion worth of transactions had taken place during 2015 indicating that the market is well and truly into its correction phase.

The market definitely benefitted from high levels of liquidity during 2012 and 2013. Capital inflows seeking safe haven from regional conflicts flowed strongly, however, they were sure to weaken and have. Geo-political events such as the wrangling over the Ukraine and  subsequent economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the West meant a rubble which was declining rapidly in value made investing in Dubai an increasingly expensive proposition for Russian investors who historically have been prevalent amongst the investing community.  In  addition,  changes  to mortgage  laws  also  dampened  the availability of capital for those investors wishing to use  leverage  to  capitalize on attractive property valuations and the  promise  of  high  and  sustainable rental  yields.  A slew of new projects being launched as a result of renewed developer optimism also placed pressure on liquidity levels and, eventually, prices market-wide.  Initially, launches were made with prices for off-plan units consistent and supportive to prices for completed units. However, with each additional launch competition for the investor Dirham intensified, leading to a gradual reduction in prices for off plan units making the risk reward equation more palatable for off-plan units versus completed units.  In addition, the shift of developer focus in response to the call for more affordable housing also meant that investors gravitated towards this, perhaps the most important structural correction in the market to date.

The  number  of  new  launches has been impressive, leaving many to question  whether  over- exuberance on  behalf  of  developers  will  result  in a  significant  oversupply.  Calculating optimal supply levels, particularly when emerging from a recessionary period, is particularly challenging. It depends on an accurate estimation of demand for real estate assets which will emanate from population growth which, in Dubai’s case, will be largely driven by overall economic growth going forward. In addition, it needs to comprehend a lag effect from the time that conditions conducive to development are identified by developers and when properties are completed and are released onto the market.

We at Harbor take, at minimum, a 5 year view when looking at equilibrium or imbalances in the market. When taking into account the nature of the markets resurgence, the strong growth in fundamental economic drivers such as tourism and trade, the levels of investment into infrastructure and initiatives and stakeholder commitment to sustainable growth, we believe that, while inventory levels may spike in the interim, they will not be excessive at the end of our 5 year forecast period. There will be around 11,000 villas, 7,500 townhouses and 35,000 apartments delivered between now and January 2020. While this may seem a lot, remember that we are a entering period where demand for properties, particularly those which are affordable, is expected to rise significantly and, given average current occupation rates are around 80 – 85%, there is not much margin for error in terms of satisfying expected demand.

Put simply Dubai needs people to support an economy that is expected to grow at an estimated 5%+ annually for the remainder of the decade and to deliver initiatives such as the 2020 World Expo. The Expo alone is expected to generate an additional 270,000 jobs and drive demand for housing and commercial facilities that, by and large, don’t currently exist. Much of the city’s planning comprehends the number of people living in the emirate to grow to 3.4million people by 2020, a 7% annual increase from today’s population of 2.25million.

There is no doubt that a stabilized real estate market will provide a much better launch pad for what will be a period of significant economic and commercial activity over the next 5 to 7 years. The structural shift towards more affordable housing will not only serve to accommodate the expected rapid population growth associated with the 2020 expo, but also serve as an important factor in the development of the Dubai economy overall.

Every emerging economy needs to develop a strong middle class as its expansion is critical to growing a sustainable economy and developing resilience in the face of external financial and economic shocks. In addition, for Dubai to compete effectively on a regional and global basis, it needs to ensure that the cost of doing business in the emirate does not position it as an outlier when entrepreneurs or corporations are considering alternatives for their operations. When taking this perspective, the correction could not have come at a better time.