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Dubai is rapidly becoming one of world's top cities for real estate. Until the first World War, Dubai was known for its pearling industry. Now, more than ninety percent of Dubai's economy is fueled by trade, travel, and real estate. It is said to possibly now be the world's greatest city for waterfront property.

Photos contributed by Gary Richardson.

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Many of the major property development companies in Dubai are creating inimitably iconic beachfront properties in the emirate to enhance the feeling that Dubai really is an oasis in an otherwise arid desert.

Because Dubai is located on the banks of the Persian Gulf's Dubai Creeks, Dubai actually has a long history associated with the sea; and modern day architects are keen to embrace Dubai's pearling and fishing past with the creation of stunning seaside hotels and residences offering inhabitants private access to pure and clean sandy beaches and the crystal clear waters of the Gulf.

Dubai Marina is one particular area in Dubai offering a whole host of beach-fronted developments with private beaches, beach clubs, 700 berths and direct waterfront access for sailing, yachting and fun. Jumeirah Beach Residence overlooking the Arabian Gulf is an example of the residential developments located on the Marina that offer property owners living in Dubai a fantastic beach resort way of life year round.

Jumeirah Beach Residence development comprises 36 residential towers with a range of apartment types to suit budgetary and lifestyle requirements together with a series of beach clubs for the exclusive use of residents. The Jumeirah Beach website highlights the fact that the development is being built on one of Dubai's last remaining beachfronts and as a direct result of that fact, interest in the apartments for sale has been intense.

The demand for waterfront and beachfront properties in Dubai is now so intense that the conception of the Palm Islands back in 2002 could not have come at a timelier juncture! When they are finally finished The Palms will be the three largest manmade islands in the whole world and they are now commonly referred to as the eighth wonder of the modern world! Every single villa being constructed on The Palm, Dubai will have its own private beach as well as a swimming pool and these villas were changing hands for incredible sums of money even before the land reclamation and infrastructure phases of the build process were complete!

The final development in our look at the beachfront properties in Dubai available for sale currently is Ocean Heights; a 50 storey magnificent condominium tower situated on the edge of the Dubai Marina development and offering residents access to pure white sandy beaches and some of the best views in Dubai. Each of the 352 condominiums for sale in the Ocean Heights tower have been individually designed with luxury in mind and they offer residents some of the most attractive high rise dwellings currently for sale in Dubai.

So, whether you want natural beaches or manmade beaches, an apartment or a villa you can rest assured that the architects and city designers in Dubai will have created something to suit your tastes and budget, just have a look around at the latest developments to buy off plan or even examine the active resale market and buy into possibly the most exciting waterfront city in the world.


Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down

Published: February 11, 2009

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

Sofia, a 34-year-old Frenchwoman, moved here a year ago to take a job in advertising, so confident about Dubai’s fast-growing economy that she bought an apartment for almost $300,000 with a 15-year mortgage.

Now, like many of the foreign workers who make up 90 percent of the population here, she has been laid off and faces the prospect of being forced to leave this Persian Gulf city — or worse.

“I’m really scared of what could happen, because I bought property here,” said Sofia, who asked that her last name be withheld because she is still hunting for a new job. “If I can’t pay it off, I was told I could end up in debtors’ prison.”

With Dubai’s economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Some are said to have maxed-out credit cards inside and notes of apology taped to the windshield.  

The government says the real number of abandoned vehicles is much lower. But the stories contain at least a grain of truth: jobless people here lose their work visas and then must leave the country within a month. That in turn reduces spending, creates housing vacancies and lowers real estate prices, in a downward spiral that has left parts of Dubai — once hailed as the economic superpower of the Middle East — looking like a ghost town.

No one knows how bad things have become, though it is clear that tens of thousands have left, real estate prices have crashed and scores of Dubai’s major construction projects have been suspended or canceled. But with the government unwilling to provide data, rumors are bound to flourish, damaging confidence and further undermining the economy.

Instead of moving toward greater transparency, the emirates seem to be moving in the other direction. A new draft media law would make it a crime to damage the country’s reputation or economy, punishable by fines of up to 1 million dirhams (about $272,000). Some say it is already having a chilling effect on reporting about the crisis.

Last month, local newspapers reported that Dubai was canceling 1,500 work visas every day, citing unnamed government officials. Asked about the number, Humaid bin Dimas, a spokesman for Dubai’s Labor Ministry, said he would not confirm or deny it and refused to comment further. Some say the true figure is much higher.

“At the moment there is a readiness to believe the worst,” said Simon Williams, HSBC bank’s chief economist in Dubai. “And the limits on data make it difficult to counter the rumors.”

Some things are clear: real estate prices, which rose dramatically during Dubai’s six-year boom, have dropped 30 percent or more over the past two or three months in some parts of the city. Last week, Moody’s Investor’s Service announced that it might downgrade its ratings on six of Dubai’s most prominent state-owned companies, citing a deterioration in the economic outlook. Nor is anyone buying new vehicles.  Lack of credit and a glut of cars on the market are cutting sales. So many used luxury cars are for sale , they are sometimes sold for 40 percent less than the asking price two months ago, car dealers say.  Dubai’s roads, usually thick with traffic at this time of year, are now mostly clear.

Some analysts say the crisis is likely to have long-lasting effects on the seven-member emirates federation, where Dubai has long played rebellious younger brother to oil-rich and more conservative Abu Dhabi. Dubai officials, swallowing their pride, have made clear that they would be open to a bailout, but so far Abu Dhabi has offered assistance only to its own banks.

“Why is Abu Dhabi allowing its neighbor to have its international reputation trashed, when it could bail out Dubai’s banks and restore confidence?” said Christopher M. Davidson, who predicted the current crisis in “Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success,” a book published last year. “Perhaps the plan is to centralize the U.A.E.” under Abu Dhabi’s control, he mused, in a move that would sharply curtail Dubai’s independence and perhaps change its signature freewheeling style.

For many foreigners, Dubai had seemed at first to be a refuge, relatively insulated from the panic that began hitting the rest of the world last autumn. The Persian Gulf is cushioned by vast oil and gas wealth, and some who lost jobs in New York and London began applying here.

But Dubai, unlike Abu Dhabi or nearby Qatar and Saudi Arabia, does not have its own oil, and had built its reputation on real estate, finance and tourism. Now, many expatriates here talk about Dubai as though it were a con game all along. Lurid rumors spread quickly: the Palm Jumeira, an artificial island that is one of this city’s trademark developments, is said to be sinking, and when you turn the faucets in the hotels built atop it, only cockroaches come out.

“Is it going to get better? They tell you that, but I don’t know what to believe anymore,” said Sofia, who still hopes to find a job before her time runs out. “People are really panicking quickly.”

Hamza Thiab, a 27-year-old Iraqi who moved here from Baghdad in 2005, lost his job with an engineering firm six weeks ago. He has until the end of February to find a job, or he must leave. “I’ve been looking for a new job for three months, and I’ve only had two interviews,” he said. “Before, you used to open up the papers here and see dozens of jobs. The minimum for a civil engineer with four years’ experience used to be 15,000 dirhams a month. Now, the maximum you’ll get is 8,000,” or about $2,000.

Mr. Thiab was sitting in a Costa Coffee Shop in the Ibn Battuta mall, where most of the customers seemed to be single men sitting alone, dolefully drinking coffee at midday. If he fails to find a job, he will have to go to Jordan, where he has family members — Iraq is still too dangerous, he says — though the situation is no better there. Before that, he will have to borrow money from his father to pay off the more than $12,000 he still owes on a bank loan for his Honda Civic. Iraqi friends bought fancier cars and are now, with no job, struggling to sell them.

“Before, so many of us were living a good life here,” Mr. Thiab said. “Now we cannot pay our loans. We are all just sleeping, smoking, drinking coffee and having headaches because of the situation.”


-----Original Message-----
From: Ben L
Sent: Thursday, March 25, 2010 3:42 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Dubai

BTW, currently reading your page on Dubai, which I've had the good fortune to visit twice over the past couple years. I was lucky enough to get some "inside" tours, because I knew a guy who worked at Nakheel, the company building the Palm Islands and the World islands.


I have read that Dubai has fallen on hard times. Were the economic problems obvious or are they hidden?

Have they had any luck selling the islands on the "World" project?

Rick Archer
SSQQ Dance Studio


Hi Rick,

         Yes, Dubai has certainly fell on hard times.  It was huge news around the December timeframe, that Dubai World, a government owned holding company that was financing a lot of the boom was more or less bankrupt.  It sent shockwaves through world financial industries.  I have two friends who work there, and here is some commentary from one of them, as he lived through it all, from boom to bust:

 A lot of things have changed since your article was written.  Just off the top of my head, here's what I can think of from my visits there as I go through your article:

1. Dubailand missed it's 2009 completion, and now the 1st phase alone isn't scheduled to be completed until 2012

2.  Burj Dubai missed it's 2008 completion, and didn't open until January of this year.

3. Ski Dubai is finished.  I skied there in 11/2007.  The single L-shaped run can be finished in about 20-30 seconds by an experiences skiier.  I usually ski up at Lake Tahoe, so this run was kind of underwhelming, but just the fact that it exists in the middle of the desert heat is amazing in itself.  They provide the ski clothes for you, and underneath that, I was dressed in summer clothes!

4. The World islands are sitting there, and construction has been halted as of mid 2009.  There is only one completed island, which was given to the Sheikh.  I was fortunate enough to take a private boat tour of the World Islands in 3/2009, they look pretty sad in their unfinished state, and will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

5. Dubai never had much oil to begin with.  The lion's share of the oil is in neighboring Abu Dhabi.  Today, oil only accounts for 6% of Dubai's revenue.

A lot of revenue comes from the Jebel Ali port, which is a tax free economic zone.  Dubai's government has worked hard to build up other non-oil related industries, to varying degrees of success.

6. Native Emiratis only make up about 15% of the population.  Most white collar workers are from Australia, Canada, USA, and Europe.  Most blue collar workers from from the Philippines, Pakistan, India.

7. The speed at which things were constructed is they worked hard to get it up as quickly as possible, often times sacrificing overall quality in the process.  Even expensive high rise apartments and luxury villas have reported having issues related to the construction quality, sometimes just 2 years after completion.  In fact, the road system in Dubai has no provisions for drainage, so after it rains (albeit rarely), the roads are usually flooded.

8. Property values as well as rents have fallen considerably, as many people have been laid off, and left the country.  There are now many vacant and/or unsold units in areas like the Palm Jumeirah, and the Marina.

9. The Dubai Marina is now complete.  I stayed there on both of my visits, and was fortunate enough to take a boat tour through the man made canal as well.

It still in the final phases of construction when I was there in 11/2007, but by my second visit in 3/2009, it was completed.

10. The Jumeirah Beach Residences is now complete.  It's quite nice, and there's a row of restaurants and shops that run along the beachfront.

11. Most of the residential portions of the Palm Jumeirah are now completed.  I was fortunate enough to tour them during construction in 11/2007.  Now, they are off-limits except to residents.

12. As far as I know, the rotating skyscraper and underwater hotel are indefinitely shelved, I hear no mention being made of them.

13. The Burj Al Arab hotel, while indisputably nice, I felt was a bit over the top, excess, just for the sake of excess.  I read that the entrance fee was $150, but you can also make a reservation to eat at one of the restaurants, in which case the fee is waived, and you can stay as long as you wish.  The Jumeirah Beach Hotel, is actually supposed to be just as nice as the Burj, albeit, not as famous.

14. The Sultan's Palace on your page, as people have pointed out, is actually the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, which you actually don't have to pay to go see.

The silver Audi photos do not look like they are from Dubai or Abu Dhabi.  The clothes they are wearing aren't the Emirati style.  There are subtle regional differences in the attire.

15. As far as I know, no 2nd indoor ski facility is under construction.

16. The Dubai Metro after numerous delays and cost overruns, had a soft opening in 2009.  Only one portion of one line is open, and it isn't really useful, as it's not complete yet.  It was only opened because they set a hard in-service date.

17. The Nakheel skyscraper that was supposed to be even taller than the Burj Dubai (built by Emmar) has been cancelled.

18. The Rose Tower, missed it's 2008 opening, and didn't open until end of December 2009.

If you like, I can send you some pictures.


Ben from California



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