xDubai: A Closer Look At The Billionaire’s Playground And Why Its Property Market Is Still The World’s Most Luxurious


Home to the world’s tallest building, the largest shopping mall in the world and the biggest ever observation wheel, Dubai shattered one of its own records a few weeks ago when a villa on the emirate’s iconic Palm Jumeirah (the world’s largest man-made island), was sold for a staggering $76.6 million (AED280m).

Bellview Real Estates’ Conor McKay, the 25-year-old Irish-born agent behind the incredible real estate sale, revealed he was inspired to enter the industry after watching LA-based reality television series Million Dollar Listing, which stars young agents including Josh Flagg, Josh Altman and Tracy Tutor. Arriving in Dubai at the tender age of 19, McKay admitted he would repeatedly ‘harass’ real estate brokers to give him a chance. Just five years later he has become one of the emirate’s leading luxury real estate agents.

The previous record for the most expensive sale in what has become the new billionaire’s playground, belonged to UK-born broker Chris Boswell, whose $50m (AED185m) deal on the Palm Jumeirah, in 2015, remained unbroken for over seven years. In that same year, as the world recovered from the latest dip in oil prices, Boswell held multiple records, including the first, third, sixth and 17th highest single residential sales ever recorded – all on Palm Jumeirah and a feat still unmatched by any other real estate agent in the city.

Now 40, Boswell arrived in Dubai slightly later than McKay, at the age of 24, when the emirate was at the embryonic stage of what it has become today. And despite the global financial meltdown of 2008, fluctuating oil prices, geopolitical crises and a worldwide pandemic, he has closed over $1.16 billion in international real estate and he still holds the city’s record for the highest recorded Villa sale in terms of price per square foot, on Jumeirah Bay – also known as The Billionaire’s Island.

And the title is apt indeed. It is widely acknowledged that over 32 individual billionaires own private properties on Jumeirah Bay (Daria Island), also home to the luxury Bulgari Hotel, which has hosted guests such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Tamara Ecclestone and other famous celebrities and influencers.

While Dubai has always been popular with investors, its allure gathered huge momentum during the Covid-19 outbreak, for the way in which the government, and that of the wider UAE, negotiated a safe path through the pandemic. Various stimulus packages and policies, including the introduction of 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies, ensured the economy ticked over, with the country’s GDP forecast to grow by 6.2 per cent in 2022 and a further 6.7 per cent in 2023.

And its Covid testing and vaccination programmes were both lauded by the World Health Organisation as some of the very best in the world. That has resulted in an influx of high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals into the emirate over the last 12 months, spending many millions of dollars on luxury real estate to make Dubai, not just their holiday home, but their premier abode.

According to New World Health, Dubai’s population of high-net-worth individuals reached 54,000 in June 2021, from 52,000 just six months previously – a growth of 3.8 per cent.

Earlier this month, the UAE announced a raft of new visa regulations, including obtaining a ten-year residency visa through real estate, which will provide further incentive for buyers.

It is no wonder then that Dubai has become the stage for some of the world’s most famous influencers and YouTubers, with many producing jaw-dropping content of mega beachfront mansions and landmarks across the city. Most recently, renowned real estate YouTuber Enes Yilmazer, who has an impressive 2.24 million subscribers, visited the city filming and showcasing a $17.7m luxury Palm Jumeirah beach villa and an incredible $21m Swedish Beach Palace on Dubai’s World Islands.

According to Reidin Data Analytics, March was the second-highest month on record for transactions over AED10m in Dubai, with 199 transactions. The previous highest was recorded in 2015. Experts have also revealed that demand is currently outstripping supply, with super premium properties being snapped up quickly. Even the secondary market saw a threefold increase in transactions in the first quarter of this year.

Dubai has always been a popular destination for high net worth investors, attracted by the emirate’s luxury properties, glitzy beaches and new visa initiatives.

With the success of Netflix’s Selling Sunset and Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing, it must only be a matter of time before we see some of Dubai’s Power Agents driving around the city in their convertible Ferrari’s touring and showing clients the best real estate the emirate has on offer.


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