Dubai’s real estate sector has demonstrated its strength and resilience over the last few years and is set to enter a new phase of development with the approach of Expo 2020 Dubai, according to Sultan Butti bin Mejren, director general, Dubai Land Department (DLD).

The emirate’s real estate sector saw its turnover rising to Dh228 billion in 2019 from Dh221 billion in the previous year.

Giving an overview of the sector’s performance in 2019 at a ‘Meet the CEO’ event organised by the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO) on Tuesday, Mejren said Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in Dubai’s real estate market grew to Dh106 billion in 2019 from Dh90.5 billion in 2018, signifying the emirate’s continued attractiveness as an investment destination.

“In recent decades, the real estate sector has added significant value to the emirate’s economic development and its global profile. Bolstered by a recovery in the market, the sector also contributed significantly to Dubai’s GDP growth this year,” said Mejren.

The UAE topped the list of five leading nationalities that invested in Dubai last year, followed by India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. Real estate investments by women rose to Dh27.5 billion in 2019 from Dh21.8 billion in 2018, he said.

Bin Mejren underlined Dubai’s constant efforts to enhance the pace of its economic growth. “The Government of Dubai launched a series of initiatives and legislations aimed at accelerating growth, which contributed to raising the attractiveness of the real estate sector,” he said.

He also touched on the launch of DLD’s Mollak, a first-of-its-kind e-system designed to regulate and monitor issues related to service charges and provide efficient support services for all parties in jointly-owned properties. With the increasing number of real estate developments, the Mollak system has been able to ensure comprehensive oversight of service charges, Mejren said.

“In the next few years, DLD seeks to increase the amount of service fees audited by the Mollak system to Dh4 billion and enhance customer happiness levels to 94.4 per cent. A total of 1,602 buildings and 26,976 villas have been registered in the Mollak system. The system was able to achieve a total savings of Dh2 million. Initiatives launched by DLD helped to completely eliminate the needs for parties to visit our centres,” added Mejren.

The number of tenancy contracts registered last year reached 530,000, representing a total value of Dh54 billion. The Department issued 466 new real estate licenses, 1,032 new real estate brokerage cards and 11 real estate practice cards. As for projects sold on the map, 82 projects were completed and 72 new guarantee accounts were opened in 2019. The Department also issued 4,815 real estate permits, increasing the number of real estate offices to 13,173 as of the end of 2019.

DLD was able to raise its dispute resolution efficiency with its Rental Disputes Center resolving 1,571 complaints and property violations through the real estate violation (RVS) system. “In 2019, the number of rental dispute cases reached 27,056. Settlement rate for cases handled by the Reconciliation Commission rose to 75 per cent,” he said.

The Department continues to work with its partners and real estate developers to address challenges in the Dubai real estate market, boost timely completion of real estate projects and reduce fees related to real estate activities, Mejren said. He stressed on the need for considering real estate a long-term investment.

Speaking about Expo 2020’s impact on economic growth, Mejren said the event, which represents a window for Dubai to reach out to the world, could significantly increase capital flows to Dubai with increased investments in infrastructure.