The Cityscape Summit opened its doors today as government, industry and thought leaders descended on the Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC) at Dubai Expo 2020 to take part in a number of topics defining the current and future real estate landscape from across the region and beyond.
The event, runnilg till November 11, was officially inaugurated by Sultan Butti bin Mejren, Director General of Dubai Land Department.
Taking a look at the global economic outlook, Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Development at University of Oxford, shared his thoughts about the future of the world economy and the implications for Dubai and its property sector.
Identifying the Urban 2040 Plan and recent amendments to property and visa laws, Goldin believes there are very few places on earth that have achieved what the UAE has in the last 60 years.
“The world economy will look very different than it does today by the year 2040. China will be the largest economy by far probably accounting for about 18% of global economic activity, the US will have slipped from number one to number three, India will be bigger than the US at number two at around 15% and Indonesia will be close behind the US, with about 10% of global economic activity,” he said.
“The centre of global economic gravity is shifting fast, and the pandemic like with so many other things has accelerated this shift towards this region and further east. In that, the UAE is ideally placed to be a bridge and a centre. Not only is it where things are happening and changing, but the composition of economic activity and markets are aligning perfectly, as well,” said Goldin.
He identified some of the UAE’s key industries that are growth sectors. “Manufacturing, services, digital, financial, hospitality, retirement, care, health and education are all accounting for a greater share of our economies. Again, this places the UAE and Dubai in an ideal situation because these are where the country is excelling. More people will come here to enjoy and work in these industries, with dramatic implications for property and the real estate sector. We are already seeing a rebound to the sorts of levels seen before the pandemic, and this will be sustained.”
Real estate market has seen fivefold investment
Meanwhile, Ian Albert, CEO Colliers – MENA, discussed the staggering increase in real estate investment and how as an asset class, rental collection rates make it a keen focus for institutional investors and funds.
“In 2014 there was a report by Grosvener Estates about resilient cities. Effectively what they came up with is new ways of looking at property investment. And it took two different lumps of assessments – one called vulnerability which looked at city’s vulnerability to things like climate change, industrial changes and adaptability such as governance and how quickly it could change itself. The outcome of those numbers is resilience.
“What’s happening in the global investment market has been a shift from the traditional shopping malls, offices and industrial parks and since 2008 the investment from funds and institutions into the real estate market as increased fivefold. In the last five years alone, residential investment has grown 30% in Europe from funds. This year, a full 25% of committed investment fund money has gone in to residential,” he said.
According to Albert, the increase in residential investment is due to it being a good cash business. “Rental collection rates of various investment funds in 2021 was sitting at 95-97%. Industrial and logistics are quite high with 85-87% and office space is around 70-75% rent collected. So, if you look at it from a cash-on-cash business it wins. The UAE market’s total available assets for foreign investment is somewhere around $350-450 billion now that foreign investors can buy now in this market. If you look at returns in Dubai, capital growth is sitting at about 30% with yields at around 5%, clearly outperforming some of the key markets in Europe.”
A glimpse into the future
Nasser Abu Shehab, Chief Executive Officer, Strategy and Corporate Governance, Dubai RTA also spoke on day one of the summit to look at how Dubai’s Vision 2040 will shape real estate and future investment.
According to Abu Shehab, two of the plans strategic themes will be imperative to the ongoing growth of Dubai’s real estate sector – planning vibrant and healthy communities and the national housing programme.
“The Dubai Urban master plan is focused on the development and investment in to five main urban centres, three existing and two new. This will support growth of the economic sector and increase job opportunities across the city. Two of the new areas are Expo 2020 and Dubai Silicon Oasis, both new and important areas for tourism, research and events. The 2040 Urban Plan also proposed over 120 strategic projects and initiatives through direct government investments or private sector partnerships and attracting foreign direct investment. These are specifically designed to forge a new and advanced economic sector and well as supporting vital sectors such as tourism and logistics,” said Shehab.
“The Cityscape Summit hosted here at the Dubai Exhibition Centre with the amazing backdrop of the Expo 2020 site will explore the sustainability of our future ambitions and our visions.
Over the next two days, we will hear from government organisations, industry experts and chief economists, who will share the micro and macro insights that will ensure these opportunities are maximised but with some knowledge and understanding of what the future may look like,” said Chris Speller, Cityscape Group Director.

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