Danube Group’s Chairman Rizwan Sajan takes us through the Post-pandemic real estate boom in UAE
While the world struggled to grapple with the COVID -19 pandemic, UAE was swift in taking actions to contain it. Nations looked on as UAE was leaping ahead with newfound strength which also resulted in an unprecedented boom in its real estate market. Rizwan Sajan, Chairman and Founder of Danube Group shares his observations on how UAE had an edge over other nations when it came to its real estate during such trying times.
Speaking about how the real estate scenario changed since the pandemic hit, he says, “The COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the UAE’s real estate market, only for the first few months around the lockdown period. So, the prices and rents nosedived during this period due to a knee-jerk reaction, owing to the uncertainty. During those few months of the hard lockdown, the UAE authorities did something remarkable – they launched a massive sanitisation, health and safety drive and enforced the new health and safety rules, which resulted in low infection and death rates. The initial hard lockdown and crackdown forced people to adhere to the new norms. However, this worked like magic, not only in the UAE but also for people outside it, who started to see the UAE as a safe place to live, work and do business, even during the pandemic, when compared to other countries. As a result, they started to relocate to the UAE, investing in setting up a business and in buying homes.”
Sajan goes on to explain that by the first quarter of this year, a surge in buying and selling activities in the #real estate sector was witnessed and that a number of people are currently relocating and investing in the UAE which has resulted in an upturn in economic activities. He points out that the pandemic has a major role in driving the real estate circumstance in the UAE. “If you look at the last six months, most countries have had a second or third wave and had to undergo multiple lockdowns and shutdowns, whereas life in the UAE remained pretty normal, except that we have to maintain social distancing protocols. From May this year, the exhibitions and conferences have resumed and Dubai Summer Surprises started from July – that will go till schools reopen in September.
So, due to the UAE’s efficient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the real estate market started to see increased transactions and investor interest.” Sajan, however, says that property rates in other emirates have not had any significant changes, and Dubai experiences such growth as it is more connected to the global economy and gets affected – both positively and negatively – by global issues and developments. “Dubai properties will benefit from the upturn simply due to the emirate’s unique selling points such as great infrastructure, connectivity and well-developed regulatory regime. International investors will continue to bank on Dubai’s real estate market for good returns.”
Speaking about the luxury property market, Sajan points out that the market withstood the effects of the pandemic to a certain extent. “Most investors who are relocating to the UAE belong to the wealthier segment of the population – with lots of cash resources. When they spend money on real estate, they invest in luxury homes – villas and apartments. So, we have seen strong investment in the luxury segment of the real estate sector which is now doing very well.
“Although there is still uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, international confidence in the UAE and Dubai has also strengthened, due to the effective handling of the crisis; which might be a ‘crisis’ in different parts of the world, but no longer a crisis in the UAE,” he says exuding confidence.
With Expo 2020 just around the corner, Rizwan shares his perspective on what UAE is gearing up for and what the world can expect from UAE “The Expo 2020 is the best thing that could have happened to Dubai in a long time. Firstly, Expo 2020 will not only bring back the confidence to the UAE and to Dubai but also will help in attracting greater international investment, talent and resources,” he says and adds that UAE is looking at the massive boost in business activities in retail, food and beverage, hospitality, transport, logistics and trading activities that will help the economy to grow.
“Expo 2020 will see the return of international tourists to Dubai in big numbers. So, when tourists return to Dubai, they will not limit their trip to the Expo 2020 site alone. They will see other attractions, spend money on shopping, site-seeing, food and beverage.”
“Dubai is the first economy to recover from the pandemic. This has encouraged us to expand our business. Recently we launched our Hospitality Division and a large collection of product catalogue, an industry-leading initiative, in the middle of a pandemic,” says Sajan as he takes us through the Danube Groups plans for its future.
He is aware that people might wonder about such a move when the sector is suffering the worst from the COVID-19 crisis? To which his answer is simple “Because of our conviction and our firm belief and commitment to the UAE economy.”
He elaborates on his firm belief and says “We see a bright future for Danube Group, in line with that of the UAE economy. Danube Group’s destiny has been intertwined with the economic growth of the UAE. If you look at our history, we supplied building materials to the construction and real estate developer fraternity for the last 28 years – a time when the UAE has witnessed the biggest economic growth and development of urban infrastructure. We benefited from the opportunities and continued to grow with the UAE.”
Rizwan Sajan is a man whose vision for the future of his company and the nation that supported it’s growth is strong and spot-on. He elegantly puts into words the world he envisions post-pandemic “ You see, COVID-19 is a short-term challenge and we are a long-term player in the economy. The crisis won’t be there after a few months or years, at best. But the economy will be there, hotels will be there, tourists will come, people will eat out like they used to before the pandemic. In short, the economy will come back, as it is happening now.
Since we know and we believe that the UAE economy will come back strongly, there will be a need for the hotels, restaurants, other food and beverage outlets to restart operations, we have entered the market and we are ready to serve them. Like Dubai and the UAE, Danube Group has also been blessed with a similar vision. We also grew our business and emerged stronger from every crisis. We, in many ways, share the destiny of Dubai and the UAE.”