For a developer's eye view of construction projects in Dubai, AME Info is indebted to Mellon Global Investments for a helicopter tour. This revealed the full extent of construction activity now creating the New Dubai, the fastest growing city in the world.
One thing that was immediately apparent from a property buyer's perspective is that 'location, location, location' is going to be far more important in the marketplace than it has been in the past.
Gazing down from HeliDubai helicopter the developments of New Dubai are scattered across the desert, and out into the sea. But some are close to clusters of economic activity, such as the Emirates Hills and Dubai Marina and the free zones. The other extreme is The World – where the islands are more than four kilometres offshore.
In the first three years of freehold property right in Dubai, you could sell anything in any location. That is because the market came from a position of no supply and high demand. Now the supply of property is large and growing massively, and buyers can afford to be more particular.
Location more important
What does this mean for pricing? Again in the initial years of freehold developers charged mainly by size of property, with little regard for location. That was before traffic jams became a fact of life in Dubai, and before people actually had to live in homes in certain locations.
Now in the re-sale market buyers can re-assess the desirability of locations that looked great off the original plan, but are rather less convenient to actually live in.
Flying over the Palm, Jumeirah it was evident that the villas are more tightly packed on to the fronds than many people might have assumed from the original plans. Will this then actually prove to be the most desirable address in Dubai? Will the access from the mainland also be a hurdle?
We will not know the answer to these questions until the marketplace has voted with its money. And that could well be down to the wives of millionaires rather than the actual investors.
From the air, the extent of Dubai's commitment to reclaimed islands is very clear. The second Palm, Jebel Ali is in an advanced state of reclamation, and the third, Palm, Deira, is starting to rise from the sea, quite apart from the islands of The World, which are spread over a much wider area than you might imagine.
Delivering on promises
If nothing else these very innovative projects have caught the imagination of property buyers around the world, and fired the Dubai real estate building boom. The more difficult stage will now be to prove to owners that they are an attractive and desirable place to live.
Nakheel is clearly working hard on this, and the highway interchange from the Sheikh Zayed Road is going to be awesome. From the helicopter we could also see that this highway is to run in a cut-and-cover tunnel to the outer ring of The Palm, Jumeirah; there is a cut-and-cover tunnel being built that would be a major project in its own right in any other city.
So could this be the time to buy an apartment or villa on The Palm, just when the doubters are worrying about the final result? Given Dubai's past track record at delivering major projects against the voices of the critics, that might be a fair conclusion.