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Dubai property prices may fall 20pc: Alabbar

Dubai, January 26, 2009

Property prices in Dubai could fall about 20 percent on average, the chairman of the emirate's largest developer, Emaar Properties, said in remarks published on Monday.

Mohamed Alabbar also said Emaar's financial position was strong but the firm had no intention to buy back shares, but it might consider delaying some projects if market conditions indicated a need to postpone putting new units for sale.

Asked about views that real estate prices could fall as much as 60 percent, Mohamed Alabbar told Al-Khaleej newspaper: "In my opinion a decline of 60 percent is illogical. There will be a variation in the percentage of decline based on the location and level of units."    

"Prices in some areas will fall 10 percent in others the decline would reach 30 percent, on average I expect the decline to reach 20 percent even if there were some units being sold cheaper because their owners are in dire need for cash."    

Alabbar said earlier this month that demand for real estate in Dubai is likely to outweigh supply this year despite the fallout of the global financial crisis.

Alabbar also heads a crisis committee set up by the Dubai government to respond to the global financial crisis, which brought to an end an economic boom in the Gulf region.

Property prices in the emirate fell 23 percent in the last quarter of 2008, HSBC said last week.

Alabbar said Emaar has laid off 100 employees after the financial crisis but was not facing any financial problems. "I believe we are finished now with the layoffs and this might be the same for other companies," he said.

"We do not have financial problems, the financial policy that we have followed over the past years in preserving liquidity despite the pressure we faced at general assemblies from shareholder calling for higher dividend helped the company enjoy a good financial position now.

"As for our projects we are studying them in the light of the current situation. If there were (projects) planned for 2009 and should be postponed we might postpone them to 2010 based on studying market conditions and what can be sold."    

He did not specify any projects but said the flagship Burj Dubai development was due for completion within a year.

Asked if Emaar intends to buyback shares, Alabbar said: "It is more important for the firm to retain liquidity." - Reuters

Tags: Emaar | Dubai property | Albbar |

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