Nigerians Top List of Property Buyers in Dubai
Dubai has long been the regional hub for the oil-rich Gulf states, but the ambitious city state is never one to rest on its laurels.
The emirate has for years been touting itself as the central node for 2bn people, spanning the Middle East, the subcontinent, central Asia and eastern Africa. Now, even West Africa, an eight-hour flight away, is on its radar.
Paris and London has long been the hub for western African states, but Dubai is now giving these established centres a run for their money. Emirates airline’s Dubai-Lagos flight is renowned for constantly being packed.
Some banks, such as Standard Chartered, have chosen to cover some business lines in sub-Saharan Africa from its regional headquarters at Dubai’s financial centre.
Luring talent to the comfortable Dubai lifestyle is easier than some African postings, while reaching various outposts of the continent can be easier from the city’s thriving airport than other hubs, such as Johannesburg and Nairobi.
As Chinese and Asian firms chose Dubai for their regional headquarters, often these businesses are not only targeting the Gulf, but looking to use the city as a launch pad into sub-Saharan Africa as well. And the investment flows are going both ways.
As Abu Dhabi based newspaper The National reports, Nigerians are flooding Dubai’s property market, especially as it starts to show signs of recovery after four years in the dole drums.
It isn’t exactly a new trend. Even at the property market’s nadir, after the real estate crash wiped more than 50 per cent off average valuations in the autumn of 2008, Nigerians were known as likely buyers. One real estate agent said at the time that Nigerians were the only nationality buying properties as the market went into free fall.
And the Nigeria-Dubai property love-in is still going strong as the property market in general improves. Jones Lang LaSalle in a recent second-quarter report noted that villa prices in Dubai had risen by around 20 per cent over last year, while apartments in popular buildings are flat on the year.
For those seeking a bolt-hole away from the corruption and danger of Nigeria, properties in Dubai are a good option: few questions are asked of buyers.
As such, they are joining a long list of nationalities who have turned to Dubai as an investment haven, especially wealthy investors from unrest-hit regions of the Middle East, such as Egypt, Libya and Syria.
In the past six months, Nigerians are registered behind sales of $52.5m, according to the Land Department.
Some real estate agents, however, place the size of investment in much greater figures, as much as $6bn over the past three years. Dubai property brokerage The First Group opened offices in Nigeria three years ago and now Nigerians account for 60 per cent of its sales.
It’s more good news for Dubai’s property market, which still needs a boost to help it recover from the slump.