Nakheel chairman Ali Rashid Lootah has signalled the return of ‘serious’ investors to Dubai’s property market as signs of recovery.

Property sales have declined by almost 30 percent by value in the first seven months of 2016, according to data from the Dubai Land Department.

Real estate analysts have predicted a flat market or a further slowdown in 2017 with Jesse Downs, managing director, Phidar Advisory expecting another 10 percent drop in values after a seven percent slide this year.

“I think the worst is over,” Lootah told Bloomberg.

“Dubai is growing, we are seeing signs of more enquiries – serious enquiries – and I think that’s a sign of recovery. The market is maturing, we are seeing more serious, cautious investors, not speculators.”

The developer was speaking in Singapore where Nakheel is marketing its Palm 360 and Palm Tower projects to overseas investors.

The largest share of buyers for Nakheel come from the GCC countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. The next largest group is Indians followed by the British.

Lootah said investors looking for alternatives to UK property following the nation’s referendum to exit the European Union are likely to consider Dubai.

“Brexit could be a positive thing,” he said. “People looking for the best return on their investment will have to pick and choose and may look for other opportunities. Because of Dubai and UAE relations with UK, we are an obvious alternative”

In August this year, the developer announced it had become debt-free after paying off the AED4.4 billion trade creditor sukuk (Islamic bond).

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