Dubai developers descend on Mumbai to entice Indian property buyers

MUMBAI // Property developers descended on Mumbai this weekend for the three-day Dubai Property Show, held in India for the first time, as they rallied to attract buyers amid a slowdown in the emirate’s property market.

Emaar, Nakheel, Damac, and Kleindienst Group, which was promoting its Floating Seahorses project – designed to consist of floating villas with an underwater level, to be built off The World islands — were among those trying to lure more Indian buyers.

Indians are the biggest foreign property buyers in Dubai, accounting for Dh7.8 billion of transactions in the first half of the year, according to data from the Dubai Land Department.

“This is the first time we have left our comfort zone of the United Arab Emirates and moved outside,” said Alharith Bin Salem Al Moosa, the vice chairman and deputy general manager of the Falconcity of Wonders project in Dubai. “So this is the first step for us to go to the international market and India is the first place we’ve come to.”

The model of the vast Falconcity project on display at the exhibition certainly attracted the attention of visitors, with a version of the Taj Mahal – four times the size of the original in the Indian city of Agra — planned for the development, alongside replicas of the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Bipin Shah, a car dealer in Mumbai, went along to the show with the intention of just looking around and ended up buying a 45 million rupee two bedroom apartment being built in Business Bay, to be used as a holiday home.

“It was the very flexible payment plan on offer that made me buy today,” he said, explaining that this involved paying 50 per cent in the three years before the handover of the property and the remaining 50 per cent over a three-year period after that.

Noor Mohammed Kapdi, a businessman from Kolhapur, a city about 375km south of Mumbai, said he had travelled more than eight hours by road to attend the show to find out about buying a home in Dubai, having visited the emirate on holiday a few years ago.

“I’m very seriously thinking of moving to Dubai and setting up a business there because my wife also wants to go,” he said.

Bharat Bedi, the director of Unique Zone Real Estate, a Dubai-based broker with a stand at the show, said the emirate’s market had seen “a correction from 5 to 15 per cent depending on the area … over the past three to four months”.

Mr Bedi said the rupee’s current weakness against the US dollar had negatively affected sentiments among Indians towards buying in Dubai “a lot”.

Visitor numbers at the show seemed relatively subdued on Friday, the first day of the exhibition, and a couple of sales representatives complained that they were not getting enquiries from serious buyers, although they said they expected activity to pick up over the course of the show.

Bollywood celebrity Malaika Arora Khan opened the exhibition, describing it as “extravagant”.

The event is being held just before the Diwali festival in India, which is considered an auspicious time for Indians to buy homes.

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