A weakening in the completed properties transaction segment could mark the beginnings of oversupply. The strong growth in the property market has not gone unchecked by local regulators who are keen to prevent a replay of the price bubble that burst spectacularly in 2009. Several measures have already been implemented, and more could be in the pipeline.
In its recent research update, Knight Frank said prime apartment and villa prices in Dubai grew by 15 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2013, describing the number as "notably slower compared to the preceding four quarters".
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Debt-laden Dubai is still reeling from the after-effects of the crisis. On March 16, it refinanced $20 billion of maturing debt with the government of Abu Dhabi, but still has $40-50 billion in government-related entity (GRE) obligations to sort out by 2017.
So what else could dampen the euphoria for Dubai stocks? Cuts to the U.S. Federal Reserve's monthly bond buying program appear to be less of an imminent risk. Yet a derailment of the ongoing progress in resolving the international standoff with Iran's nuclear program could have a significant impact. Iran has historically been a key partner for the UAE, with trade peaking at an estimated $12 billion in 2007.
"Certainly Iran matters more as a fundamental driver than, for example, Expo 2020," Malik explained. "And relative to other frontier and emerging markets, particularly dollar-pegged ones, the equities rally is looking stretched".
"There is a risk this year of the market overshooting," Mattar agreed. "But we're not there yet".
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