The Middle East’s largest property show is taking place in Dubai. But, with home prices falling there in recent years, there are concerns about how attractive the city is for investors. Nawied Jabarkhyl reports.
Billions of dollars worth of projects have been announced at this year's Cityscape. But, the general mood at the show has felt quite subdued. It was once one of the world's hottest real estate markets, but according to Property Monitor, the average price of a house in Dubai is just over $500,000 - almost half of what it cost a year ago. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CRAIG PLUMB, HEAD OF MENA RESEARCH, JLL "We're expecting sort of a slow recovery through 2018 and 2019. But, at the moment, we believe the market's fairly well-positioned at the bottom." According to JLL, the main reason house prices have been falling since 2014 is because there's too much supply. Low oil prices have also had an impact, causing a wider slowdown in the region's construction sector. Despite the challenges though, several developers - many of them state-backed - are pushing ahead with new investments. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARWAN AL KINDI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DUBAI PROPERTIES "For us, we believe in Dubai. Dubai itself is a brand and we believe in our team and all the planning done. So, we did our homework well and we're ready for the test." The downturn hasn't been bad news for everyone though. China State Construction Engineering Corporation says it's secured $1.5 billion in new projects in the Middle East so far this year. And at this year's event, it signed a $2.2 billion initial agreement to develop part of Dubai's Motor City. The firm says it's seeing the benefits of China's Belt and Road Initiative. Real estate has long been central to Dubai's plans to diversify its economy. The huge, double-digit returns once associated with investing in the city may be long gone. But, as prices continue to fall, there's a sense that a more sustainable market may be on the horizon.