We chat with… Farah Zafar
Farah Zafar, Chief Legal Officer of Tanween qatar, for her view on the current GCC Real Estate Market.
The key to growing an economy, particularly those in the developing world, is in the ability and willingness of the legal system to enforce property rights. How do you see the situation in the GCC?
I think it is important to note that the GCC does have a comprehensive legal system with respect to property rights for all GCC nationals, whereby such national can enjoy such rights in their respective home country and similar rights in any other GCC countries. Dubai is a great example of a mature legal system being in place that will ensure a future of long-term sustainable growth. Most of the GCC countries are also following this model and are actively developing and implementing laws and regulations to govern foreign investments and foreign real estate laws to offer transparency and protection to foreign investors.
When it comes to the Middle East, there are multitudes of added layers of risk – geopolitical, currency and compliance, to name a few: are the governments doing enough to make real estate investment attractive?
Yes, I believe they are. The governments in the GCC are all committed to making real estate investment attractive and they are all committed to developing and establishing laws and regulations to encourage foreign investment and to implement a standard of international law and compliance.
The majority of international buyers have historically seen Dubai as the best location in the Gulf to invest; do you think this will remain the case? Dubai will always be a preferred hub for foreign investment, growth and tourism. However, many other Gulf States are keen on establishing themselves and Qatar in particular has greatly benefitted from its hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. International investors will focus on Qatar as the next big thing.
Also in the UAE, Abu Dhabi now looks a good place to invest, but where do you think the ‘hidden jewels’?
Abu Dhabi distinguished itself from other GCC states by focusing on cultural, social and economic projects that attract a different type of foreign investor and institution. There are many hidden jewels in Abu Dhabi that are steady and sustainable and can only be discovered by the true savvy institutional investor.
Qatar and Oman have also enjoyed a certain amount of success on the international real estate stage; do you see this continuing?
Oman will continue to develop its tourism market and is one of the countries that wants to exploit eco and green tourism, which will flourish.
Oman will continue to invest in its residential real estate market, as well as commercial projects such as hotels and resorts. With the vast amount of infrastructure and development projects taking place in Qatar, it is clear to see that the potential of Qatar has no bounds. Perhaps the ‘sleeping giant’ in the region is Saudi Arabia; how do you see the real estate market progressing here?
The amount of real estate projects that have been launched in the Kingdom in the last two years have been at an unprecedented high – huge projects are being launched all around the airport area in Riyadh, Jeddah, the Eastern Province and in the holy sites. This upward trend is forecasted to continue in 2012 and beyond.