Dubai: After nearly three decades in London, Christophe Reech was fed up with the city’s pandemic lockdowns. This spring, he sold his luxury townhouse and jetted off to the desert sheikhdom of Dubai to start a new life with his family. There was no turning back, he said. The French business magnate’s super wealthy foreign friends were doing the same, driving an unprecedented surge in sales of Dubai’s most-exclusive properties.
“Here in Dubai, there’s only one strategy: Business as usual,” said Reech, the chairman of an eponymous group that owns real estate and financial technology companies. The philosophy is simple: “Let’s make sure everyone’s vaccinated and keep everything open.” “Of course that attracts people like me,” he said.
As vaccines roll out unevenly worldwide and waves of infections force countries to extend restrictions, foreign buyers flush with cash have flooded Dubai’s high-end property market, one of the few places in the world where they can dine, shop and do business in person. They’re snapping up record numbers of luxury villas and penthouses, sending prices rocketing in this boom-and-bust market. Sales of Dubai’s upscale properties, once slow, soared 230 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period last year. Prices in some top-end areas rose as much as 40 per cent, according to Property Finder, the country’s largest real-estate website.
A record-breaking 90 properties worth 10 million dirhams each (USD 2.7 million) changed hands last month, on top of 84 in March, surpassing heights hit eight years ago, according to real estate consultancy Property Monitor. For comparison, there were 54 such transactions in all of 2020.