“We can’t just keep building wider roads, bridges and tunnels,” says Abdullah Rafia, the assistant director general of engineering and planning for the Dubai Municipality. “Affordable housing is the solution to the mobility problem in Dubai.”
“Rents and the high cost of living, if not addressed, will discourage future companies from relocating here,” Martin Cooper, the Dubai-based director of Middle East property at Deloitte, told Bloomberg news. “They need to start addressing it now, because affordability is increasingly becoming an issue even for those with relatively high income.”
Among the steps taken or under consideration, the government says developers should designate 15 to 20% of their projects for low-cost housing. For now, “we are keeping it optional”, Rafia says. “After a few years, if it’s needed, we’ll go with regulations that are compulsory for everybody.”
Authorities do not plan to build low-cost homes themselves for the time being, although they have the ability to do so, he says. The government owns most of the undeveloped land and holds majority stakes in developers including Nakheel, Meraas and Dubai Properties Group. As a result, “the Government can influence their decisions”, Cooper says.