This week Bloomberg reported that Dubai is facing a “housing disaster” as a result of overbuilding. There’s simply too much supply coming onto the market. About 30,000 units are expected to be completed this year, which the industry believes is about 2x actual demand. As a result, the industry — yes, the development industry — is calling for a 1-2 year pause on all new construction in the city so that the excess units can be absorbed and demand can catch up.
I’m not an expert on the Dubai market. And I’ve only been to the city once. But my sense is that there are relatively few barriers to new supply, especially compared to markets like Toronto and San Francisco. And so it’s not surprising to hear that supply is and has been outstripping demand. According to Bloomberg, the market peaked about 5 years ago.
For the industry to call for a moratorium on new construction it must mean that there’s concern of a prolonged housing slump and perhaps even some sort of systemic collapse. But if the objective is more affordable housing, than you might argue that Dubai has been doing a pretty good job of that. Here is a global city with a “housing crisis” on the opposite end of the spectrum. So what is it that makes Dubai different than, say, London or San Francisco?