CW Expert Interview | Zeina Khoury on Dubai real estate and #COVID19

The CEO of High Mark Real Estate talks about weathering the pandemic, curbing oversupply, and spurring demand

In this episode of CW Expert Interviews, Construction Week's deputy editor Anup Oommen talks to Zeina Khoury, the CEO and chief growth officer of High Mark Real Estate about the trends and challenges facing Dubai's real estate sector, specifically, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In addition to the current state of the real estate market and a brief outlook for the future, Zeina shares details about curbing the oversupply in the market, steps taken to spur demand, and measures necessary to ride out the fallout of the COVID-19, specifically with job losses and pay cuts coming to the forefront across the globe.

"In April and May, which is when the strict lockdowns were in place, we saw a drop of 50% in volume of sales, compared to 2019.

In June, after the lockdowns were lifted, we saw strong recovery," Zeina explains. "At the rate we're currently going, we expect to close the month of June at around $1.225bn (AED4.5bn), which is only about 17% lower than what we witnessed last year."

"This year, the lockdowns may even work in our benefit. A lot of people who usually leave Dubai in the summer are staying here, so probably, we may even see more activity."

Zeina also touched upon the supply-demand curve within the Dubai real estate market.

Commenting on the supply glut and strong demand, Zeina says: "The government has already addressed the supply side by creating a committee to control the units in the city.

They are not allowing any new projects unless it really adds to the value of the real estate vision for Dubai." "As for demand, we have seen long-term visas, and a drop in the cost of setting up businesses.

There are many areas where expats can have full ownership of their businesses without the need of a local sponsor. We've seen many developers offer attractive payment plans."

"There are even talks -- behind the scenes -- about a pension fund for expats," she adds.

For more details, watch the video on Construction Week’s YouTube channel.

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