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Why are houses in Dubai so cheap?

Dubai is known for its lavish real estate market with extravagant properties and sky-high rents. However, in recent years, housing prices in Dubai have fallen significantly, leaving many wondering: why are houses in Dubai so cheap?

Why are houses in Dubai so cheap?

Factors driving down Dubai house prices

Several factors have contributed to the decline in Dubai house prices:

Oversupply of properties

  • Dubai experienced a real estate boom in the early-to-mid 2000s, with hundreds of new developments being built rapidly
  • This construction boom led to an oversupply of properties on the market
  • By 2014, estimates state 25-30% of properties in Dubai were vacant
  • High vacancy rates and abundant supply of new buildings pushed rents and prices down

Strengthening of US dollar

  • Dubai’s currency, the dirham, is pegged to the US dollar
  • As the US dollar strengthened globally, it made Dubai relatively more expensive for foreign investors and residents
  • This lowered demand and prices for properties aimed at expatriates

Reduced foreign investment

  • Global economic slowdowns in places like Europe and China reduced foreign investment into Dubai real estate
  • Sanctions against Iran also eliminated a key source of property buyers in Dubai
  • Weaker demand from foreign investors reduced housing prices across the emirate

Job losses and slowed economy

  • Dubai’s economy was impacted by low oil prices starting 2014-2015
  • Companies cut jobs and salaries, reducing what residents could afford for housing
  • Economic growth slowed from over 6% to under 3% between 2014-2017
  • This economic reality was reflected in a cooling housing market

Maturing market

  • As Dubai’s real estate market matured, unsustainable price growth seen in the 2000s bounced back
  • Reduced speculative activity meant owners and developers had to drop asking prices to reasonable market rates

Current Dubai house prices

Due to the above trends, house prices in Dubai fell 17-25% from their 2014 peak across various indices. Some examples of current prices:

  • Downtown Dubai apartments average AED 1,850 psf
  • Mid-range villas in communities like Arabian Ranches average AED 1,000 psf
  • Budget expat areas like International City average just AED 400 psf

These represent 25-35% drops compared to 2014 prices. Rents have followed a similar downward path.

This makes properties quite affordable for buyers or renters from within UAE or for expatriates moving from high-cost countries.

Cheap for who?

While cheap for well-off expatriates, properties remain expensive for lower-income groups:

  • Median monthly income in Dubai is AED 20,000
  • Affordable monthly rent should not exceed 30% income = AED 6,000
  • Means affordable homes should cost AED 400,000-500,000
  • These still remain out of reach of average residents

So “cheap” is a relative term depending on one’s income, nationality, and origin country.

Dubai house price forecast

The big question is – will Dubai house prices fall further or are they at attractive lows ready for growth again?

Short term

Over 2022, expect prices to remain stable with slower rises returning in 2023. Why?

  • Expo 2020 and stronger oil prices breathing some life into the economy
  • Oversupply of housing has been absorbed to an extent over the last 5+ years
  • Population and occupancy rates rising again driving rents up 10-15%

Medium term

The medium term looks brighter – forecast to see 7-9% price appreciation over 2024-2026. Key reasons:

  • Dubai positioning itself successfully as a business, tourism, and lifestyle destination
  • New world-class malls, entertainment venues, museums attracting 15+ million high-spending visitors a year
  • Major events like World Expo, FIFA World Cup 2022 driving investor and expat interest again

Long term

The 2030 Dubai Urban Plan sets out sustainable growth for the city supporting population rise to 5.8 million. If achieved, strong demand and improving economic growth could justify higher property prices.

Uncertainties like interest rates and oil prices make it hard to predict – but no 2008-style crash seems imminent. The current dip still makes it a good time for value property investments in Dubai.

Key takeaways

  • Housing supply outpaced demand causing Dubai property prices to fall 17-25% from a 2014 peak
  • Apartments in top areas now average AED 1,850 psf, villas AED 1,000 psf – 25-35% below 2014 costs
  • While “cheap” for expatriates, properties remain unaffordable for average Dubai residents with median monthly incomes of AED 20,000
  • Near term (2022-2023) expect prices to stabilize; medium term (2024-2026) predicts appreciations between 7-9%
  • Strong government plans for Dubai’s growth provide optimism, but global economic factors bring uncertainty too

In summary – there are positive indicators for Dubai real estate but no short-term miracles given global complexities. For suitable buyers, properties are fairly valued and will likely trend higher. But budget conscious tenants should secure longer leases for stability.


Dubai went through an extraordinary real estate boom in the 2000s, attracting vast swathes of foreign investment. An oversupplied market correcting itself – coupled with global headwinds – has since brought prices back to more sustainable levels 25% off their peak. Properties remain expensive for average UAE residents but offer good Dubai value for expat investors again.

With the government delivering steady infrastructure and tourism growth plans, demand should absorb vacant units. As global economic confidence improves post-pandemic, Dubai property looks set to enter an appreciation cycle once more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What led to Dubai’s housing market slump after 2014 peak prices?
A: The key reasons are oversupply of properties, strengthening dollar, reduced foreign investment, slower economic growth leading companies to cut jobs – and a market correction from unsustainable price rises.

Q: How much value have Dubai houses lost compared to 2014 prices?
A: Average prices have dropped between 17-25% depending on property type and community. Some areas saw 30%+ declines from their peak.

Q: What are average prices per square foot for apartments and villas now?
A: Top downtown apartments sell for AED 1,850 psf typically. Mid-range suburban villas average around AED 1,000 psf based on current sales data.

Q: Why are properties still considered unaffordable for many Dubai residents?
A: Median monthly income in Dubai is AED 20,000. Affordable housing costs for this should not exceed AED 6,000 rent. So properties priced over AED 400,000 remain largely unaffordable.

Q: Will Dubai real estate prices drop further in 2022-2023?
A: Short term, expect stability over 2022. Minor rises could return in 2023 given strengthening economy and occupancy rates. But global factors bring uncertainty on exact trajectory.

Q: Are these attractive prices compared to other global cities?
A: Yes – prime Dubai areas are still cheaper on psf basis than prime central London, Hong Kong, New York, etc. Making current valuations decent for foreign investors.

Q: What is the medium-term (2024-2026) outlook for Dubai housing?
A: Forecasts predict 7-9% annual price appreciation in that period. Government infrastructure and tourism plans should boost demand while supply stabilizes. But global factors could dampen growth.

Q: Can foreigners invest easily in Dubai property now?
A: Yes, the UAE government has removed previous ownership restrictions to open real estate to all nationalities. Investors simply partner with Dubai-based developers on residential purchases.

Q: Should I buy or rent a property in Dubai currently?
A: Buying allows capitalizing on fairly priced assets ahead of a potential rising cycle. For short-term stays, renting likely makes better sense until market direction gets clearer over 2022-2023. Many areas still favor tenants.

Q: How reliable are the Dubai 2030 growth plans in assessing future prices?
A: Dubai has a strong track record of driving infrastructure development and demand creation. If global factors align, achieving stated 2030 goals could create housing supply shortages again.

Q: Could external events negatively impact investor confidence again?
A: Yes – issues like oil price fluctuations, global recessions, emerging market currency crises, or regional conflicts could dampen foreign interest. But Dubai economy itself remains resilient.

Q: Where are the most affordable areas in Dubai to buy property?
A: Outside central zones, communities like International City, Discovery Gardens, Dubailand, and Jumeirah Village still offer apartments below AED 25,000 psf – or villas under AED 5 million.

Q: Are there still off-plan property options available for purchase?
A: Yes, hundreds of projects are underway – mostly larger master developments containing both residential, retail and commercial elements. Payment plans allow securing off-plan homes.

Q: Can I get affordable housing finance as a UAE resident?
A: Yes – UAE banks offer citizens loans covering 80% property value usually at competitive rates. Expats can qualify for 75% financing. Mortgages target 30% max monthly repayment of income.

Q: Where can I find authoritative pricing indices about Dubai real estate?
A: UAE Central Bank tracks a residential property price index. Private firms like REIDIN and Property Monitor also compile helpful sales databases on communities and trends.

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