Agent Insights Property Market Insights

Market Insight: The State of Luxury Real Estate in Dubai

Jacqueline Johns, principal at Dubai Premier Estates, shares her insights into the impact of the pandemic on Dubai’s real estate market, as well as new trends to watch out for, and what the rest of 2021 holds

Dubai was recently ranked among TIME magazine’s World’s Greatest Places 2021. The country made the list thanks to its hotly anticipated Expo 2020 (now set to take place from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022), as well as for its cultural institutions, and luxury hotels and restaurants. But there are plenty of reasons to do more than simply visit Dubai, from a dependable climate to a real estate market brimming with fully serviced luxury communities and favorable tax laws. Little wonder that the country has seen an influx of high-net-worth individuals investing in property in recent months.

Aerial view of the The Palm Jumeirah island in Dubai
Real estate on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah island—known for its developments of ultra-luxury residences, upmarket restaurants, and top hotels—is in high demand as people seek greater space within easy reach of the city. Image: Getty Images

“We are pleased to report an average boost of 96 percent in sales transaction volume between 2020 and this year,” observes Jacqueline Johns, principal at Dubai Premier Estates, which recently joined the Christie’s International Real Estate network of luxury property specialists. “Business enquiries have increased consistently, which accurately reflects the positive market sentiment Dubai has experienced since the last quarter of 2020.”

High-Net-Worth, High Interest

Johns and her team note that Dubai has been recorded as one of the top destinations for millionaires and billionaires to reside—and that these figures increased dramatically over the past 24 months. “Newfound interest from high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) is also being observed from France and Germany, as well as renewed and strengthened demand from Russia.”

So far, so positive. But how have global events such as the pandemic affected the real estate market in Dubai?

Johns notes that “in the context of COVID-19, interest from HNWIs worldwide increased, as the United Arab Emirates demonstrated its capacity for fast and effective crisis management alongside exceptional healthcare quality and availability. The U.A.E. was one of the first to issue a country-wide lockdown with stringent restrictions, state-of-the-art testing facilities, and meticulous organization.”

A penthouse bedroom with views of the Dubai skyline
This ultra-luxury penthouse is situated alongside the vibrant Dubai Water Canal and boasts spectacular views of Burj Khalifa and the city's iconic downtown skyline. It is available through Dubai Premier Estates.

Johns believes that this prompt reaction allowed the country to prioritize health and safety and to enable an earlier date for a return to “near-normal” life, after which vaccinations became widely available and accessible. Parallel to this, the real estate market in Dubai is maturing considerably, with increasing developments of ultra-luxury residences alongside existing and flourishing prime communities such as Dubai Hills, Palm Jumeirah, and Mohammed Bin Rashid City.

“HNWIs—particularly from Europe—have recognized the convergence of both events as a unique opportunity to live in a resort-style destination, work remotely, and lead a luxury lifestyle with the freedom to enjoy leisure and entertainment activities safely,” says Johns. “The government has also helped support their interest with visa schemes that allow foreigners to live between their home country and Dubai to make the most of the city’s state-of-the-art healthcare, trusted pandemic regulations, stunning beachfront locations, and improved quality of life.”

New Trends

Another effect of the pandemic has been an increased demand for outside space, with many families opting to upgrade from apartments to villas. “During the first quarter of 2021, Dubai’s villa prices rose 3.9 percent, and they have escalated since,” Johns confirms. “Even so, we are consistently witnessing a heightened demand for outdoor space, increased square footage, as well as studies or home offices for remote work.”

The outside view of a villa and pool at night
Set in the Fairways neighborhood in Dubai Hills Estate, this 14,197-square-foot (1,320 sq m) villa represents the epitome of sophistication, with five sweeping bedrooms, dedicated staff quarters, and a spacious six-car basement garage.

To best satisfy interest from clients, Johns and her team have increased their focus on videography and developed virtual tours, integrated voiceovers into property and campaign videos, and implemented new strategies to better serve clientele remotely. “Our marketing team has grown to accommodate the additional visual content needed and we employed a copywriter to elaborate on listings so that clients who can’t attend viewings have access to an accurate, compelling property description,” she continues.

A Positive Outlook

And what of the rest of 2021 and into 2022, is the future bright? “Our outlook is very positive,” Johns says. “The market is currently moving at a fast pace with both demand and transactions picking up speed in the luxury sector—the country has seen record-breaking transactions throughout the year in various neighborhoods.”

Johns also comments that HNWIs are showing increased interest in Dubai’s branded residences and ultra-luxury developments, “which maintains demand for luxury homes and an undersupply that is still in place today. This demand may be in part due to the government’s newly relaxed living restrictions, which allow cohabitation and offer an array of visa schemes for overseas buyers.”

A luxurious living room with view of Dubai city skyline
Designed for a life of elevated luxury, this Italian palazzo-style villa is set on an 18,258-square-foot (1,695 sq m) landscaped plot within a private beachfront community on Palm Jumeirah.

Foreign nationals also no longer need local sponsorship to establish businesses, and can now obtain a virtual working visa, as well as an investor visa, which could continue to attract more international buyers throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

The U.A.E. is also regarded as a safe haven for overseas buyers whose home countries are in and out of lockdowns. With this in mind, Johns foresees a renewed surge in demand once these countries lift travel restrictions and allow individuals to live and move freely between both destinations.

“Expo 2020 is also predicted to strengthen overseas interest and confidence in the U.A.E. as a leading cosmopolitan destination, which boosts our expectations for continued growth,” she concludes.

Banner image: The view of Dubai’s skyline from the landscaped gardens of an Italian palazzo-style villa on Palm Jumeirah island