I remember the initial stirrings in 2002. To my recollection, Emaar's Springs and the Greens were among the first properties to go on sale. Prices starting around Dhs 180,000 (US $50,000) were being advertised. It seemed like a tempting proposition, but was it perhaps just a sales gimmick. I remember thinking, "Is it really possible for foreigners to buy a home here?"
Before I could give any particular ad much consideration, it would soon be replaced by a Sold Out announcement. That pattern of advertisement or press release would repeat itself time and time again. Only toward the the middle of 2005 would the pattern of New Launch followed by Sold Out begin to be supplanted--by the likes of only 90% Sold.
The Scene Today
By mid-2006 the freehold market appears to have taken hold in a big way, even spreading across the borders to include most of the Gulf states. Dubai, of course, is the place where it all began, and the extent to which its economy has been transformed as a result is incredible.
Dubai's post-federation economy was once sustained primarily by oil and trade and a growing tourism sector. Its economy now is dominated, more than anything else, by construction and real estate. At the same time the more traditional industries, apart from oil, continue to expand while new industries like commerce and retailing begin to flourish as well. The economy of Dubai is at once becoming enormously diversified, while at the same time being propelled by a massive property and construction industry--all the result of the 2002 edit by its rulers to introduce freehold.
To some extent, Dubai Marina is the ultimate symbol of Dubai's adoption of freehold. It is the place where the decision to reform the property sector seems to have originated, preceding the actual announcement of freehold by several years. Indications are that planning for Dubai Marina began as early as 1996, with blueprints drawn up by 1998 and actual construction of the Marina waterway beginning in 2001--all of which predates the 2002 announcement of freehold. Today, in terms of the scale of projects completed, near-completed, underway and soon to break ground, Dubai Marina is the largest single construction zone not only in Dubai but around the Gulf. It is both the place where it all began and the place where the sheer scale of the transformation taking place can be best appreciated. One cannot help but be astonished while driving past the Marina's endless rows of towers along Sheikh Zayed Road.
Such is the phenomenon of freehold in the UAE today. The model of development in Dubai is being adopted hook, line and sinker by Abu Dhabi--not to be outdone. It has its own massive schemes beginning to move from drawing board to construction site, while other emirates follow with their own, humbler versions. What one must expect is that this whole process will transform the UAE not only economically and visually, but socially as well. Expats, along with locals, and even non-resident investors from abroad will all have a vested interest in what goes on in the UAE.
Continue with Freehold 2, the concept defined.
- A freehold failure story: What's Wrong With These Beautiful Pictures?
- A selection of a few Dubai Marina towers: Dubai Marina Communities
- Photos of Dubai Marina and nearby developements: Dubai Marina Photos
- Updates: Freehold Areas Announced... Some Surprises!, Dubai condominium law likely this year, Monopoloy anyone--Dubai style!