MRED Around the World student Christian Traeden writes about the team’s time in Dubai: 

Our only full day in Dubai was filled with some amazing meetings with some of the top players in this unimaginably opulent and over the top city. The best way to describe Dubai would be “biggest and best.” The biggest this, and the best that, surrounds you at every turn. What an amazing and eye-opening experience this has been as to the wealth available in the world.

Real estate in Dubai functions opposite of traditional conventions. The environment the government has created draws wealth in an almost magnetic and frantic way. Real estate here sells out like a Rolling Stones concert in the states. The tallest building in the world, which has 3,331,100 square feet of floor area, supposedly was fully leased in around eight hours. Entire communities, including thousands of villas in the  $1 million-plus price range, sold out in 72 hours. While the market has slowed from this type of pace, traditional wisdom is somewhat skewed.

We started the day meeting with Jacqueline Connolly, director of shopping malls asset management, and Daniel Hill, senior director of shopping malls development, at Majid Al Futtaim, the developer of Mall of the Emirates. There were two of the most informative and pleasant professionals we have met with. Their insights into what drives the economy and the advantages of development in the region was very eye-opening. We toured the Mall of the Emirates and the expansion/renovation projects they are working on, as well as the the indoor ski and snowpark area they have created in the mall. What an amazing place.

Our next meeting was with Brett Schafir, CEO of Dubai International Financial Centre. What a great person. Brett shared with us the vision and concept of the centre, which was the idea of the Ruler of the U.A.E.  The center is set up like an off-shore country in the middle of downtown Dubai and is governed by British financial law. It is the sixth largest financial center in the world and is attracting more and more companies every year due to the lenient tax laws and ease of immigration for foreigners if they work in the center. The master plan of the project creates a city within a city and provides a real sense of place with many amenities and opportunities for connection, not just towers of offices. Schafir was kind to share his experiences and time with us.

MRED Nakheel

Our last meeting of the day was held at Nakheel, the developer of the famous Palm Island, World Island, and many other mind-boggling developments in Dubai. The scale and speed at which Nakheel has created these reclamation projects is an accomplishment in itself, let alone the speed at which they are able to sell the homes and hotel sites on these islands. The hotel occupancy rates in Dubai are mind-blowing, and there is still a need for more rooms, especially with the coming Expo 2020 to the city. Nakheel is a government-owned company, which has allowed it to be a part of some of the most interesting development ideas we have seen on this trip, and there are more to come.

Dubai has been quite an adventure. Our amazing hosts opened our eyes to a part of the world few of us could believe had we not experienced it in person.

  • Looking for something specific?