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Investors more optimistic about real estate in middle east but market faces stiff competition

‘There has been a significant shift among investors from denial of the extent of the crisis to a more realistic acknowledgement of the new normal and a sense that the worst is behind us,’ says the Real Estate Investor Sentiment Survey from consultants Jones Lang LaSalle which questioned 225 leading investors.

In the region Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are expected to recover from the downturn first but there is a lot of support for Dubai which is regarded as the regional leader in terms of competitiveness and real estate infrastructure, the report says.

‘A return to 2007 pricing coupled with the successful overhaul of the regulatory environment could see Dubai solidify its position as the leading regional and international destination for investment,’ it adds.

According to Ian Ohan, Head of Investment Transactions for the company’s MENA region, property investors are looking forward to 2010.

‘Investors responding to this survey have a clear expectation of what is required from governments and regulators to support the recovery,’ he explained.

What they believe is needed includes ‘a framework to rectify and resolve real estate issues created by the excesses of the past’ as well as effective economic stimulus and market transparency.

He also explained that investors are sending a clear wake up call to existing real estate owners.

‘The strategies employed by developers and owners in the past will not serve them well in attracting much needed investment,’ Ohan said.

But the report also warns that the MENA region faces stiff competition for real estate markets in the Asia Pacific region.

‘Investors are now favouring Asia Pacific as the strongest expected global performer.

This is perhaps unsurprising given the positive growth rates now being experienced in China and India and the fact that various stimulus packages being introduced by MENA governments have only recently started to take effect,’ the report points out.