Dubai records huge short-term rental boom in months leading up to Qatar World Cup

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Dubai has observed a 22 percent increase in short-term rental occupancy in the months leading up to the FIFA World Cup tournament, a real estate agency told Al Arabiya English on Wednesday.

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“I think it’s definitely something that we anticipated purely because it’s been such a long time coming,” Department Manager at Betterstay - Dubai-based real estate company Betterhomes’ short-term rental company – Joanna Plunkett said.

“There was already so much media surrounding the World Cup being in Qatar anyway, so it was very much on the world radar being such an unusual time of year to have a World Cup and then it being the first time in the Middle East.”

Short-term rentals in Dubai have always been sought-after, especially among expats as it offers greater flexibility without being bound to long-term tenancy contracts. However, in the months leading up to the World Cup, the company noticed a spike in occupancy rates, highlighting the tourism ripple effect being experienced in Dubai.

“I think Dubai being one of the closest tourist locations to the World Cup meant that people were going to turn to Dubai instinctively, purely because it is kind of the closest tourist location that people can seek comfort in.”

The company has seen a significant increase in enquiry rates from people looking for short-term properties to rent and a staggering 342 percent rise in registered leads between the usually off-peak summer period and the start of World Cup advertising.

A picture taken on June 30, 2022, shows a view of the Dubai Marina in the Gulf Emirate. (AFP)
A picture taken on June 30, 2022, shows a view of the Dubai Marina in the Gulf Emirate. (AFP)

Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina were the two most enquired about areas due to their popularity among tourists and familiarity with regular visitors. Marina also sports a few World Cup fan zones where visitors can watch the football games every day, immersing themselves into the highly-anticipated tournament’s energetic atmosphere without having to travel to Qatar.

Plunkett told Al Arabiya English that short-term rentals are gradually becoming a more viable option for Dubai residents due to their flexible nature. The city’s expat population tend to live for a short period of time before moving places.

“It's more of a fast paced city where people appreciate flexibility,” she explained, adding that a huge number of people who work between Dubai and neighbouring countries tend to opt for short-term rentals because it offers them the chance to just pay for the property for as long as they use it, rather than all year round.

This real estate trend is also appealing to investors more than ever before.

“Investors have that ability to pretty much charge whatever they want for [the property] knowing that people are going to pay for that flexibility,” Plunkett said.

“It’s definitely something investors are looking at, especially because a lot of investors would also like to benefit from using the property themselves from time to time.”

Al Arabiya English also spoke to Property Finder’s UAE Country Manager, Scott Bond, who said that Dubai’s housing market is currently “a top choice among investors, especially in times of crisis when Dubai shines as a stable, proactive safe-haven.”

A picture shows a view of the Dubai skyline, including Burj Khalifa the world’s tallest building, in the United Arab Emirates, on June 20, 2022. (AFP)
A picture shows a view of the Dubai skyline, including Burj Khalifa the world’s tallest building, in the United Arab Emirates, on June 20, 2022. (AFP)

Bond believes that this is due to the “vast volume of impactful initiatives, policies and regulations” set forth by the UAE government, paving the way for a “resurgence” and “solid macro fundamentals and world-leading tourism, business and innovation environment.”

According to Property Finder’s Market Watch Report for the third quarter of 2022, sales transactions in Dubai’s real estate market reached 25,456, a huge increase compared to 15,744 transactions made in the corresponding quarter last year, recording an increase of almost 62 percent. This quarter was the city’s “highest performance for a quarter in 12 years,” Bond said.

“I think Dubai itself is one of those places where year after year after year, more and more people are coming to for many reasons, whether it be tax-free earning, extreme safety, or the amazing weather all year round,” Plunkett explained.

“It’s one of those places whereby people turn to as a place to escape from the rest of the world and be in this Dubai bubble, and people are looking to invest because of the high rental returns more than most other places in the world if you compare it to likes of London, New York, and Singapore, it’s really high up there,” she added.

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