Indian nationals have invested around Dirham (Dh) 20 billion in Dubai’s real estate sector, in the last 18 months. These months between January 2016 and June 2017 include the time period of demonetisation. Dh 1 amounts to around Rs 17. Officials in the security establishment say that a substantial part of this money may have gone out of India during demonetisation. Checks and balances introduced at the time curtailed the circulation of black money in the domestic market, making people who had access to such money to “invest” their wealth in Dubai, which is United Arab Emirates’ largest city.

Indian nationals conducted around 7,000 transactions, worth Dh 20bn, to buy residential and commercial estates in Dubai during this period, say officials familiar with the deals. Both in terms of number and value, these transactions are the largest done by foreigners in Dubai. UAE nationals invested the maximum in Dubai, Dh 37bn, followed by India and Saudi Arabia, which invested Dh 12bn. Pakistani nationals were next with Dh 7bn, followed by the nationals of Jordan and Egypt, who invested around Dh 4bn each.

These numbers were collated by the Dubai Land Department, which has been established to handle all matters of legalisation for the sale and purchase of land in the Gulf city. An email sent to Dubai Land Department seeking an official response to this report did not elicit any response until the time of going to press.

Indian officials said that most of the Indian purchases were made in upscale areas such as Jumeirah Bay, which is considered to be the most posh waterfront area in Dubai. A 5,000 square feet freehold residential plot there costs around Rs 10.5 crore.

Indian nationals have also invested in the uber luxury villas of Emirates Hills developed by Emaar Properties. These are 10,000 square feet villas, with six bedrooms each, and cost more than Rs 70 crore per villa.

“Indian nationals have been among the biggest investors in Dubai’s real estate market in the past seven-eight years. In this time period (January 2016-June 2017), out of the approximately Dh 150bn worth of real estate deals in Dubai, the money spent by Indian nationals comprise 1/7, which is close to Dh 20 billion. Indians conducted around 7,000 transactions out of the 71,000 transactions that took place in Dubai,” said a source familiar with the development.

The quantum of money spent and deals struck has come as a surprise for Indian experts, who were of the view that due to demonetisation, which led to a slump in the real estate market, people who had the money would be investing more in India rather than looking at Dubai.

When asked about the post-demonetisation scenario, a Dubai based source who is familiar with the development, said, “It is true that investments from Indians gained speed after November 2016.” Demonetisation was announced on 8 November 2016.

Last year, around 6,300 Indians bought property worth Dh12 billion in Dubai, out of the Dh91 billion total real estate investments done there.

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