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Dubai property giants call for more investment from UK, Europe

An executive director of Dubai Properties has called on the industry to do more to attract real estate investment from Europe and the UK, as the managing director of Damac Properties reiterated calls for non-resident mortgages in the UAE.

Marwan Al Kindi, executive director of sales & sales operations at Dubai Properties, said levels of European and British investment in the developer’s schemes was low when compared with investment from Arab, Indian and Pakistani buyers.

He told Arabian Business at the Cityscape conference on Tuesday that the real estate industry, and the Dubai government, needed to do more to encourage long-term expats who have lived in the UAE for decades, to snap up real estate.

“The challenge as I see it is, how can we attract more Europeans and Brits to the Dubai market? What can we do to encourage them?

“There are hundreds of expat families who have lived in the country for 25, 30 years – some of the first expats on Dubai’s soil – why do they not want to commit to buying property?”

Buyers from the UK represented the fourth largest group of investors in Dubai real estate in the first half of this year, after Emiratis, Saudis and Indians, according to figures from the Dubai Land Department (DLD).

Brits accounted for AED4 billion of sales transactions over the period – but Al Kindi said this was not reflected in the trends he was seeing. The majority of investors in Dubai Properties’ current schemes are from the Arab world, or Indian and Pakistan, he said.

Meanwhile, Ziad El Chaar, managing director of Damac Properties, said the developer was in talks with banks over the introduction of non-resident mortgages in the UAE.

He told Arabian Business in an interview at Cityscape that few Europeans and Brits purchase real estate in cash, and that UAE banks currently fail to provide the facilities and products to meet this type of overseas investors’ financing needs.

Damac is seeking to encourage banks to talk to their regulator and consider what options could be brought to market.  

“We have so many attractions [for foreign investors],” El Chaar said. “The only thing I think we’re still missing is offering a non-residential mortgage, in line with what you see in Sydney, in Melbourne, in the UK, Los Angeles, which is the pay 35 percent down and you get 65 percent over 15 years, no questions asked. This would complete the package.

“We are talking to banks because they have to talk to their regulator, I can talk to my regulator but they have to talk to theirs.

“We are showing them how important this is, for attracting more foreign investment in Dubai real estate – think the UK, Australians, Europeans, who you rarely see buying property in free cash.”

He added that a non resident mortgage would attract a broader mix of nationalities to the Dubai property market.

Europeans only account for a tiny proportion of investors in Damac schemes, El Chaar said. “The people buying our schemes are mainly from the GCC, India, Pakistan, UK, and, more recently, China.”

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