Dubai’s real estate: Thriving in the digital era – Economy Middle East

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Dubai’s real estate sector has an exceptionally strong foundation. The city has a supportive government and a robust tourism industry, is safe and clean, and boasts many exceptional neighborhoods. In fact, according to financial services provider Remitly, Dubai is the top city for expats to live in. But thanks to social media, Dubai’s real estate scene is getting a significant boost.

Milestone years

After hitting huge milestones in 2023, the Dubai real estate sector is on track for another big year. In 2023, a report by Deloitte showed that the city’s residential market’s sales and rental prices increased 18 and 26 percent year-on-year (YoY). Meanwhile, office rents registered a 17 percent YoY jump.

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According to prop-tech firm Realiste, the city’s real estate market could grow by 15 percent in 2024. As early as mid-February, Dubai has already seen around $15 billion worth of real estate transactions. While figures are yet to come in as of writing, real estate sales should reach $27.2 billion by the end of the first quarter.

“In 2024, Dubai’s real estate market is poised for significant growth, estimated at approximately 15 percent, driven by robust demand, a thriving economy, and heightened foreign investor interest,” noted Realiste.

Social media boost

Social media is one of the most innovative and convenient mediums of communication to have emerged in recent years. More than a mere means to get in touch, businesses use social media to expand their presence and reach more audiences.

In Dubai’s real estate landscape, this digital technology is proving beneficial in attracting prospective buyers. According to a recent NativeX report, Douyin, the mainland Chinese counterpart of the short-form video hosting platform TikTok, has witnessed a surge in interest in Dubai properties among Chinese investors.

NativeX, a leading digital marketing platform, revealed that Dubai’s real estate content ranked ninth in terms of views among all global content in Douyin. Meanwhile, it took the sixth spot in engagements. The city trails behind the US, Japan, South Korea and Thailand but performs better than other key markets. These include Singapore, Canada, Australia and the UK.

The findings further highlight that users are keen on knowing more about international real estate investments and topics about the residential market.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), in general, is also gaining traction alongside Saudi Arabia. From September 2023 to March 2024, the search volume for “UAE” rose by an impressive 343.77 percent. Meanwhile, “Saudi Arabia” searches increased 198.66 percent.

Adapting to the digital era

Real estate experts in Dubai recognize the importance of building a social media presence.

Earlier this year, real estate gurus with substantial social media following convened at the Museum of the Future and Emirates Towers in Dubai for the sophomore edition of the 1 Billion Followers Summit. During the event, Mohanad Al Wadiya, the CEO of Dubai-based Harbor Real Estate, underscored the need to adapt to changing media consumption habits.

“As media consumption habits have changed, I have to focus more on my presence on mobile screens. Personal branding is very important, as people love to connect not just with companies but with the people behind them. A brand personification that presents the brand values is therefore vital,” he noted.

However, Al Wadiya emphasized that he is also on television and radio, in addition to digital channels. In 2018, the so-called “Wolf of Real Estate” became the highest-paid male social media influencer when he earned around $490,000 for a single post. Asked for advice for brokers, he noted that “the focus should be on adding value.”

Meanwhile, Rizwan Sajan, founder of the conglomerate Danube Group, stressed how social media helped him and his company enjoy “maximum mileage.” Apart from giving valuable advice on real estate and beyond, he also encourages his own employees to be their company’s brand ambassadors.

Read: UAE residential real estate leasing and buying trends

The power of social media

In June last year, Meta MENA held its first Real Estate Summit in Dubai. The event featured well-known figures, including Lebanon-born entrepreneur and TV personality Zeina Khoury.

With nearly 1 million followers on Instagram, Khoury is the CEO of the recently launched Zed Capital Real Estate. She began making real estate content when the pandemic hit and has since been gaining a substantial following.

“Social media has been amazing and contributed a lot to my real estate career,” she shared, pointing out how vital this technology is. She added, “People can search online, follow me, and then contact me when they are ready to make a decision.”

Meanwhile, Alain Mayni, head of Real Estate, Tech, Media & Telecom at Meta MENA, noted that the company is uniquely positioned to capture Dubai real estate’s growth. Meta is the parent company of two of the biggest social media networks today: Facebook and Instagram.

According to Mayni, “It offers a competitive value proposition that helps the entire ecosystem of developers, agencies and prop-tech players drive awareness, acquire leads, optimize the cost of sales and customer experience.”

As social media cements its status as a central component of businesses’ growth strategies, Dubai also continues to be a recognizable force within the global real estate landscape. And for Firas Al Msaddi, CEO of fam Properties, getting a share in Dubai’s vibrant real estate market is but a wise decision.

“Dubai is the land of opportunity because the city is being built as we speak. The more you contribute, the more you help build the city and industry and the more you are going to walk away with,” he remarked during the said summit.

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