Dubai market is 'getting busier', says EC Harris

More investors look to revive partially-built properties in Dubai

John Williams is partner and Middle East regional leader of EC Harris.
John Williams is partner and Middle East regional leader of EC Harris.

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While the property sector in Dubai is still reeling from the downturn, the market itself is showing strong green shoots, says John Williams, partner and Middle East regional leader of built-asset consultancy EC Harris.

“We are starting to see more investors looking at partially-built properties. It is interesting. Dubai generally is getting busier – everyone is saying that.

“Real estate was always the market that got hit the hardest, but the leisure market – hotels, retail – has always been quite strong actually.

“We are starting to see much more movement now, though not on the scale of the mid-2000s, nothing like that.

“What we are starting to see here are a lot of projects getting completed, and a lot of areas looking more finished off, even though the rental levels may still be quite low. So there are positive signs here,” says Williams.

“So, yes, it is probably a good time for built-asset consultancies. I think another aspect of it that we are starting to see – and this is early days – is that there will be more opportunity to refurbish and reconfigure assets.

“Maybe in a boom time you knock the old assets down and build new ones; maybe in a time like now you would think more about it. Maybe a five-star hotel is not working – can I get more rooms out of a four-star and raise the occupancy rate?

“I think that if we have the data that proves build costs and hotel efficiencies, we can get a head start on such opportunities,” says Williams.

Read the full interview with John Williams in the next issue of Construction Week magazine.

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