Having been out of Dubai for the last four or five weeks and spending a few days catching up with my friends and colleagues I am feeling change. Reading around the local newspapers, magazines and UAE blogs the financial crisis has really started to have a tangible effect on daily Dubai life.
Let me take a few examples:
1. Taxis – a popular topic of discussion for all Dubai inhabitants. Now there is a positive plethora of taxis available for hire at anyone give time. A short while ago trying to get a cab on Thursday evening in Dubai Marina was nigh on impossible. Now just a short wait will find you one.
2. Traffic – again another popular conversation for Dubai locals. Right now is usually the very busiest months for traffic in Dubai. The shopping festivals, kids are in school, the weather is cool and winter in Europe usually means a deluge of people coming into the city and ultimately traffic for Dubai. Now a Thursday night trek down the Sheikh Zayed Road is something I can easily do without the need for a packed lunch and bottled water.
3. Property – this has crashed. And crashed hard. In Dubai Marina apartments can be had for less than 1000AED a square foot where only six months ago the price was 1600+AED a square foot. This puts them back at the price they were when originally constructed and has left many with a mortgage in a negative equity trap. Plenty of sellers, few buyers and hard to get finance with high interest/profit rates makes for a tough market. I am sure it will recover. but only over the next few years. It is perhaps now where the smart investor could pick up a place at a reasonable price and get a good 8-10% yield on it despite the gradual decrease in rents.
4. Friends – some of my friends are leaving Dubai. It seemed for the first thirty months in Dubai there was a continual stream of new expats arriving in Dubai on almost a daily basis. There are now a lot of them leaving and it has now effected my circle of friends. Tomorrow night I go to my first “Leaving Dubai” party caused by redundancy. I find this heart breaking.
On reflection – a less hectic Dubai with more affordable housing and a currency that is linked to a strong dollar? Sounds to me like a good place to be if you are asking a humble expat like myself. Of course when friends who are near to you leave it is never pleasant, but I look at it in a different light. I now have an good excuse to visit new and exotic places for a vacation.