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Dubai to recover from the COVID-19 crisis by mid-2021

03.05.2020
Real estate market recovery will be gradual and cautious, rather than V-shaped, Dubai’s leading developer Emaar Properties’ CEO told CNN.

Dubai's real estate sector will gradually recover by mid-2021, cautiously getting over the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which hit not only tourism but also other sectors of the UAE economy, said Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, the largest emirate’s developer, after the opening of Dubai Mall.

Dubai will recover from the crisis in a “better position” than other global cities due to its unique status as the region’s commercial hub, and lack of dependence on oil, Mohamed Alabbar explained in the interview to CNN.

“I see no reason for an abrupt market recovery,” he added when asked about the schedule for the market’s return to normal operation.

“I think that it is really necessary to restore the economy gradually, moving forward step by step according to this schedule by the end of the year, and if there is no repeated outbreak of the virus, then, probably, at the end of the first quarter of next year and until the middle of next year, we may return to normal life,” Alabbar has predicted.

Earlier Dubai, a regional tourist and business center, imposed strict restrictions on movement and commercial activities in order to contain the Covid-19 virus. But in April, the restrictions were partially lifted, under certain conditions, such as 30 percent performance and occupancy of trade and other establishments, mandatory wearing of masks, widespread disinfection and body temperature control.

Alabbar also emphasized that the lifting restrictions during the beginning of Ramadan, the “most passive two weeks of the year”, allows markets to “return to work carefully and gradually” and adjust their activities according to circumstances.

In general, according to forecasts of the International Monetary Fund, the economies of the Middle East and Central Asia will decrease by 2.8 per cent in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and falling oil prices.

“Large global centers will survive the current changes in different ways, some of them better, some of them worse,” Alabbar said. "But, given the state of the economy of Dubai, government policies and the lack of dependence on oil, the emirate’s chance to recover faster than others does not seem too illusory, and more, I think, Dubai will recover even in better shape."

The UAE, the second largest economy in the Arab world, has poured extra AED282 billion into economy as the fiscal and financial support, providing banks with zero percent financing to accelerate credit growth in the country.

The government has also come up with a number of other initiatives that range from lowering utility costs to canceling various charges and fees to support the economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to the postponement of significant international events, such as the Tokyo Olympics and the World Expo 2020 Dubai, until next year, as well as the cancellation of the Hanover exhibition for the first time in its 73-year history.

However, the head of Emaar believes that holding the Expo 2020 until 2021 will be even the best, "ideal decision."

“I am 100 percent sure that the coronavirus vaccine will be already found by then, and even if it happens in March or April next year, I believe that by October everything should be all right to host the Expo as it should, and at the same time celebrating a way out of the crisis and reuniting the world after these difficult trials,” he added.

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