Dubai’s happiness agenda has provided a clear direction for many of the businesses operating in the emirate. In the real estate sector, this simply means creating a genuine desire to buy property and live in the UAE long term. To achieve this, real estate experts at the recent Cityscape Conference concur that there is an urgent need to build trust and instil confidence to invest in real estate.
“Confidence in the market itself, being connected, informed, and to share knowledge, is the happiness we’re aiming for,” says Marwan Bin Ghalaita, CEO of Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera), pointing out that the Dubai Land Department (DLD) is working on fulfilling Dubai’s happiness agenda. “Confidence in the system is paramount, and I can see there is trust in the UAE, the system, and the real estate sector itself.”
In this regard, the cooperation and support of developers will be crucial and Bin Ghalaita says the government is making sure this is made clear to them. “Developers, we’re always watching over that you keep what you promise,” he says. “Trust is crucial; we don’t need to spoil that again.”
Part of efforts to build confidence is the government’s investments in technology, particularly in allowing more transparent transactions. The DLD, for instance, has created a real estate blockchain platform, making it ready for all other stakeholders to get on board. The platform would allow payments via recognised “virtual notes”, listings, viewings, rental and sales of property, obtaining mortgages, and other services at the click of a button.
What we try at the DLD with block-chain and other technologies is to create the right journey to access all these services in one portal and do everything in five minutes, whether it’s the rental registration process, doing contracts online, paying with smart cheques, or connecting to Dewa and so on,” says Khalifa Al Zeraim Al Suwaidi, CEO of Emirates Real Estate Solutions (ERES) at the DLD.
The system would increase transparency and security, while making it easier to verify landlord signatures and titled deeds.
“The DLD is implementing lots of processes to ensure data and owner rights are protected, and the legacy system, i.e. paper et al., will be linked with the new system to protect data,” Al Suwaidi reassures, conceding that benchmark technologies would disrupt the real estate sector. “To avoid risks going along with that, we need to update laws and regulations, so they hold up in court. We’ve been working on that for the past year.”
An legitimate confidence builder is enabling easy access to one’s investment portfolio, which the DLD says is aptly covered by its new application, the real estate wallet. “The investor can see the movements of everything he has, and we want to measure happiness with this wallet,” says Bin Ghalaita, adding that a DLD mystery shopper survey showed that 97 per cent of customers were happy to invest in Dubai.
“We can learn a lot from these scores,” says Daniel Hart, CEO of Masterkey, noting how the government’s initiatives provide a blueprint for private sector companies.
Making residents happy is ultimately the goal for developers, one that is intensely pursued. “For us developers, happiness means a loyal customer,” says Maan Al Awlaqi, executive director — commercial of Aldar Properties, noting how the company has used social media to enhance loyalty.
Apart from virtual interaction, Abdullah Rasheed Jassem Al Abdooli, CEO of Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah, says developers must invest in more tangible amenities to cater to residents. “Developers may want to save money, but we need to sacrifice space and money to make people happy,” Al Abdooli emphasises. “We need to rethink our developmental agenda, how to create to make people happy.”
The sentiment is echoed by Hrojve Cindric, Urbanism Leader at Arup Middle East, pointing back at Dubai as a leader in this respect. “Happiness means so many things to different people. It is crucial to create public space that doesn’t monetise, and Dubai is an excellent place to explore this.”
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