Interview: Donald Trump
Given the central role of real estate sector plays in the Dubai economy, how do you see the structural risks within the market?
DONALD TRUMP: We see very little in the way of structural risks for the market at present, as officials have learned a big lesson and done a commendable job bringing Dubai back to the forefront of global interest. It is an incredibly vibrant, high-growth region of the world, with a capable labour pool and rapidly expanding consumer demand. Private developers, including our partners DAMAC Properties, have done well in recent years and continue to build out solid positions in the market. Pricewise – even after the rebound over the past three years – asset prices are still incredibly competitive when compared to other major cities in the world. As a result, we are seeing sustainable demand coming from regional as well as international investors. The city's infrastructure, urban planning and overall strategic management are second to none, and most importantly it still shows lots of room for growth.
What do you see as the biggest concerns for other investors that may be considering an entry into the Dubai real estate market?
TRUMP: As a property developer, one operates with the understanding that markets will have good times, bad times and many times that are in the middle whether you are in New York, London, Tokyo or any other international metropolis.
That being said, we believe Dubai is set to see less fluctuation and more of a potential upside than many other destinations in the world. Local government, developers and investors all seem to have learned important lessons during the global financial crises and have gone to great lengths to protect against the threat of such instability in the future. We had plans to build on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah archipelago nearly a decade ago, but decided not to go forward with this development due to signs of a potential overheating. This time we see a very different scenario unfolding.
What measures might be taken to further improve investor sentiment towards the legal framework in the UAE property market?
TRUMP: There is a lot of psychology to life and the same goes for real estate. Authorities have made major strides in getting investor sentiment back to a strong level. Smart and innovative publicity has gone a long way towards helping rebuild confidence in the market. We have seen some developments that have been tied up in legal action since the crises, and are not yet getting off the ground due to the complex legal process. Finding ways to improve the efficiency and speed of this process would be a great boost in the eyes of other prospective investors. All in all though, it's quite impressive how much the city has been able to accomplish in the past decade, and their future plans for the next 10 years have certainly captured attention from all corners of the globe.
What are the biggest challenges Dubai faces in growing its golf and leisure tourism segment?
TRUMP: They must continue to press forward along the route they are currently on, continuing to expand their offerings in tourism, especially in the leisure segments. We like the market from the standpoint of investment and building, and have witnessed a uniquely unified approach with regard to the management, planning and vision of the emirate.
Given the current growth rates of tourist arrivals and of the industry as a whole, we see a lot of investors looking to gain a foothold in the tourism sector through any number of routes. As Dubai becomes a world-class destination, we believe it could also be used as a springboard for investment into other Middle East markets as well as emerging markets elsewhere.
As a result of our current investments and the diverse opportunities in Dubai, we have met with individuals from various countries across the region during our trips there, and we do indeed see potential for considering additional ventures down the road.
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