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Dubai property market still sparkling...for now

Dubai's largest developer Emaar Properties reported a 29 percent year-on-year increase in net income for its second quarter late on Monday, but nonetheless missed analyst expectations.

The firm, builder of the world's tallest tower in Dubai, reported a net profit of $236 million, while revenues came in at $764 million, a fall of 9.7 percent compared to a year earlier. Emaar Properties shares traded 1.7 percent lower in early trade on the Dubai Financial Market on Tuesday.


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Results were "led by the strong performance of the Malls and Hospitality business segments," the company said in a statement.

The total value of sales of Emaar's projects in Dubai during the first half of 2014 was $2.459 billion, 43 percent higher than sales in the same period last year. A fifth of buyers were international investors. Declining sales would serve as an important indicator of a slowing real estate boom.

"Although Emaar's bottom-line performance comes below our expectation, we continue to maintain our bullish stance on the company; mainly on strong off-plan sales recorded in Dubai, along with improving performance at the recurring portfolio level," NAEEM Brokerage argued in its latest research note.

Investors are also awaiting details of the company's plans for the initial public offering of its malls unit this year. Emaar Properties, in which the Dubai government has a 31 percent stake, plans to raise as much as $2.45 billion from the listing.

Housing prices in the Emirate have surged since 2011. According to CBRE, sales prices rose by 31 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2014, "suggesting that demand remains strong despite the implementation of higher transaction fees."

Authorities have doubled property transaction fees to four percent, but the International Monetary Fund still suggested in May it was time to consider "stronger measures" in order to avert a replay of the previous bubble that collapsed in 2009.

The IMF has forecast economic growth in Dubai to average 5.5 percent in 2014–19, and 8 percent in 2020, the year the city hosts the world's fair, the Exo.

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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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