Dubai’s property market is one of Asia’s most volatile and we’ve seen many ups-and-downs since the early 2000s. In 2002, the government introduced new property regulations making it remarkably easier for foreigners to invest in property.
The market exploded and in 2006 almost 25% of all cranes in the world were allocated to Dubai for construction purposes. Just a couple of years later, Dubai took a hard hit from the subprime crisis and local expats with heavy debt burdens even fled the city.
Selecting a credible developer with sound financial results and a proven track record couldn’t be more important in such a volatile and competitive market.
Dubai is the home of hundreds of developers where the biggest mostly operate in multiple industries, are backed by large conglomerates, or founded by wealthy locals.
You must do a thorough background search about each developer before you commit to an investment. To give you a helping hand, I’ve written this article where I list some of the biggest property developers in Dubai.
Deyaar was founded in 2002 and has emerged as one of the leading property development companies in the last decade. Deyaar offers its services under four different business units that include:
- Property development
- Property management
- Facilities management
- Owner’s association management
In the beginning, Deyaar was serving as the property management unit of Dubai Islamic Bank, but as the company expanded, it later became an independent private company.
The company currently owns 11 subsidiaries working in Lebanon, UK, Cayman Islands, Turkey, UAE, and the Netherlands. Some of their well-known subsidiaries are Deyaar (UK) Limited, Deyaar for Development SA, Dubai Insaat, and Arady Development LLC.
The CEO of Deyaar is Saeed Al Qatami who is acting as CEO and Managing Director since April 2010. Before moving to this position, he also served as Vice President of Business Development since 2007.
Saeed has previously won the Real Estate and Development Industry CEO Excellence Award in 2014 by the Middle East Excellence Awards Institute.
He also served as Director at Omega Engineering LLC and worked at Standard Chartered Bank before joining the Deyaar management team.
Awards & recognition
Deyaar has won several local and international awards in the last years, including:
- Top 100 Real Estate Companies in the Arab World by Forbes Middle East, 2016
- The Emirates Energy Star (EES) Award in 2013, a recognition of their efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of the UAE
They’ve developed both residential and commercial high-rise buildings, some even iconic in the Dubai skyline. They’re also planning to develop new projects in the hospitality industry.
- Mayfair Tower
- The Atria
- Central Park
- Mont Rose
- Midtown Dania
- Al Dana Towers, Sharjah
- Al Seef Tower, Dubai
- Al Seef 2 Tower, Dubai
- Central Park, Dubai
- Clayton Residency, Dubai
- 623 square feet apartments in Midtown Afnan, Dubai Production City are available for around AED 690,000 (USD 188,000)
- 772 square feet apartments in Mont Rose, Dubai Science Park are available for around AED 970,000 (USD 264,000)
Deyaar Head Office Building – Al Barsha – Dubai
2. The First Group
The First Group is a global property development company operating in the UK, Spain, US, UAE, West Africa, Southeast Asia, and Cyprus. The head office is now based in Dubai, UAE, which was established in 2005. Their first local project was launched in 2006, since then they’ve completed a dozen more.
Danny Lubert is the founder and Senior Partner of the company and specializes in financial structuring and marketing. Rob Burns is the acting CEO and a graduate of Pennsylvania University, having degrees in marketing, business, and hotel & resort management.
The company was founded almost 30 years ago and has emerged as one of the leading property development and investment companies in the UAE.
Awards & recognition
The First Group has won numerous awards, including the following from Arabian Property Awards.
- Best Condominium/Apartment for Wyndham Dubai Marina
- Best Developer Website
- Best Residential High-Rise Development for the Bridge
- The Best New Hotel Design & Construction for The One at Jumeirah Village Triangle
They’ve also won Several Awards from CNBC International Property Awards.
The First Group develops residential, commercial, and hospitality projects. They also act as hotel operators in partnership with several well-known hotel groups like Wyndham.
- Sky Bay Hotel
- Avalon Tower
- Al Dar Tower, Dubai Marina
- The Diamond, Dubai Sports City
- The Bridge, Dubai Sports City
- 1-Bedroom studio apartments in The Matrix in the Dubai Sports City cost around AED 920,000 (USD 250,000)
- 2-Bedroom apartments in The Diamond in the Dubai Sports City cost around AED 760,000 (around USD 207,000)
Tameem House Office Building, C008-014 – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
3. Gemini Property Developers
Gemini Property Developers, owned by Gemini Group, develops residential projects in Dubai and India.
Owned by Chairman Sudhakar R Rao, the company entered the Dubai real estate market in 2005 and owns several other subsidiaries mainly working in the energy sector, like Gemini Energy.
Their property development unit launched a decade ago, but the company has operated in the Middle East’s energy sector for the last three decades. Symphony is one of their flagship developments, located in Business Bay.
Gemini Property Developers has only completed one residential project so far but is in the process to finalize its second. That said, it’s backed by its parent company, Gemini Group, which has sound financials.
The price of a 2-Bedroom apartment in the Splendor is around AED 1.8 million (around USD 500,000). 1-Bedroom studio apartments are available for AED 1.2 million (around USD 326,000).
Unit no. 609-610, Sobha Sapphire, Business Bay, P.O.Box: 114536, Dubai, UAE
4. Emaar Properties
Emaar Properties is one of the most well-known property developers in Dubai. It was founded in 1997, as of June 2018, the company has a valuation of around USD 9.7 billion. The company is one of the biggest real estate developers in the world with annual revenue of USD 5.83 billion.
Over the years, Emaar Properties has built some of the most iconic buildings in Dubai, including Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Other projects include
- The Dubai Mall (the world’s largest shopping mall)
- Dubai Aquarium
- The Dubai Fountain
- Underwater Zoo
- Dubai Ice Rink
- Reel Cinemas (the largest cinema complex in the Middle East)
Emaar offers property development and property management services all over the world and owns around 60 subsidiaries in different countries. In total, Emaar Properties develops properties in 36 countries, including UAE, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iraq.
The founder and chairman is Mohamed Alabbar, ranked among the wealthiest people in the UAE and the Middle East. He has founded dozens of other companies, such as the leading eCommerce platform in the Middle East, Noon.com, now seen as the competitor of Alibaba and Amazon in the region.
The portfolio of Emaar Properties includes residential, commercial, recreational, entertainment, and hospitality properties. They’re best known for their large-scale neighborhood residential projects like The Springs, The Lakes, The Meadows, The Greens, and the Arabian Ranches.
- Dubai Hills Estate
- Mulberry at Park Heights
- Dubai Creek Residences
- Collective at Dubai Hills Estate
- The Grand at the Dubai Creek Harbour
- Sunrise Bay at Emaar Beach Front
- Saffron at Emaar South
- Island Park 1 at Dubai Creek Harbour
- The price of a 3-Bedroom apartment in the Al Yass Tower, Emaar 6 Towers is around AED 4.8 million (USD 1.3 million)
- The price of a 1-Bedroom apartment in the Murjan Tower at Dubai Marina is around AED 2.1 million (USD 570,000)
Emaar Square, Building no. 2, Ground Floor, Downtown Dubai
5. Damac Properties
DAMAC Properties was founded as late as 2002 and probably the most well-known property developer in Dubai. It’s a property development unit of DAMAC Group, which was founded in 1992 by Hussain Sajwani, the fourth richest person in the Arab world according to Forbes.
They’ve completed several real estate projects in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, the United Kingdom, and Lebanon. Damac Properties was ranked number one among growing global companies on the Forbes 2017 Global 2000 list.
Damac Properties has developed several commercial, residential, mixed-use, and hospitality properties in the last few years. They also own a subsidiary, DAMAC Hotels & Resorts. As it speaks, it focuses on developing hotels and resorts.
- Reva Residences
- Sahara Villas
- The Park Villas at DAMAC Hills
- Artesia DAMAC Hills
- A house in the Sahara Villas (Golf community) is available for around AED 1.2 million (USD 320,000)
- A luxury villa in The Park Villas at DAMAC Hills is available for around AED 2.7 million (USD 730,000)
Ocean Heights, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai, UAE
6. Nakheel Properties
Nakheel Properties was founded in 2000 and has a reputable track record. Ali Rashid Ahmed Lootah started the company, within just two decades, it’s become one of the leading property developers in the world, offering services in 87 countries.
The annual revenue of the company is in the billions of AED and it employs more than 1,500 people. It also owns several dozen subsidiaries working in the real estate sector, like Nakheel Marinas, Jumeirah Islands, and Nakheel Asset Management.
They are mostly known for iconic projects in Dubai, where Palm Jumeirah truly stands out. It’s an artificially made island in the form of a palm tree, spanning over almost 6 square kilometers.
Nakheel also constructs The World, which consists of several man-made islands that look resembles the World and its continents.
Palm Jumeirah, an artificial archipelago, is one of Dubai’s most famous landmarks and was created by Nakheel.
Nakheel develops residential, hospitality, commercial, retail, and leisure properties. Their residential projects include large-scale residential housing projects (Dragon City, International City) and high-rise apartments and mixed-use buildings (Jumeirah Heights).
- The Gardens
- Garden View Villas
- Golden Mile 3
- Al Furjan
- Azure Residences
- Dragon Towers
The price of a three-bedroom townhouse in the Jumeirah Village Circle is AED 2.3 million (around USD 626,000), while a two-bedroom townhouse is available for around AED 2 million (USD 544,000).
King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Street, Al Sufouh 2 – Dubai
7. Dar Al Arkan Development
Dar Al Arkan Development is the biggest Saudi Arabia based property development company in terms of market value. It’s a major property developer in the Middle East, and one of the biggest in Dubai. In 2017, they started their first international project in Dubai.
The company was established in 1994 and has so far completed more than 15,000 residential units in Saudi Arabia. Ziad El Chaar is the current CEO of the company and was appointed in June 2017.
Their first Dubai project is ‘I Love Florence Tower’, initiated in 2017.
Dar al Arkan Development has been awarded the Corporate Governance Company of the Year in MENA 2016 by The European, as well as the Best Corporate Governance in Saudi Arabia in 2016 by World Finance.
Dar Al Arkan Development is mostly known for its large-scale residential projects that include both housing projects and high-rise apartment buildings.
- I Love Florence Tower
- The price of a 1-Bedroom apartment in the I Love Florence Tower is around AED 600,000 – 700,000 (USD 163,000 – 190,000)
Conrad Dubai – Sheikh Zayed Rd – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
8. MAG Property Development
MAG Property Development, also known as MAG Lifestyle Development, is one of the biggest property developers based in Dubai.
It’s the property arm of Moafaq Ahmad Al Gaddah (MAG) Group, named by its founder, and a large multinational conglomerate operating in several countries.
MAG Group ranks among the biggest corporations in the Middle East, with several subsidiaries working in the real estate sector, engineering, commercial trading, contracting, hospitality, and several other sectors. It currently owns more than 50 companies in the region.
The MAG Lifestyle Development company was founded in 2003. However, the MAG Group was founded in 1978. The founder and the chairman of the MAG Group is Moafaq Ahmad Al Gaddah.
In 2017, MAG Property Development ranked 18th among the Top 40 Unlisted Real Estate Companies in the Arab World. In the same year, the CEO Talal Al Gaddah (son of the founder Moafaq Ahmed Al Gaddah) won the award for Young CEO of the Year and listed among the 40 under 40, Among the Most Influential Young Arabs in the Middle East by the Arabian Business.
They’re mostly known for their residential projects that consist of luxury high-rise residential towers and large-scale townhouse communities.
- MAGEYE Residential
- MAGEYE Townhouses
- MBL Residence
- MAG 318
- MAG 5 Dubai South
- MAG 5 Boulevard
- Studios and 1-Bedroom apartments at MAGEYE Residential are available for around AED 490,000 (USD 133,000)
- 3-Bedroom townhouses in the MAGEYE Townhouses are available for around AED 2.3 million (USD 620,000)
- 1-Bedroom apartments in the MBL Residence are available for around AED 880,000 (USD 240,000)
Emirates Financial Towers – 25th floor, South Tower – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
9. Dubai Properties
Dubai Properties is the property development and management unit of a larger company, the Dubai Holding Group. The subsidiary of the Dubai Holding Group was founded in 2004, which is owned by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Dubai Holding Group also owns several other subsidiaries that include Jumeirah Group, TECOM Group, Dubai Group, Arab Media Group, and Dubai International Capital.
The current chairman of the company is Abdullah Al-Habbai. They’ve completed several high-profile projects in the last few years that include Jumeirah Beach Residence, Tijara Town, Culture Village, and Dubai Internet City.
You can find a wide range of properties to buy or rent from this developer. These properties include houses, apartments, retail and commercial space, and land plots.
- Shorooq Mirdif
- Ghoroob Studio Apartments
- Mudon Views
- Casa Viva at Serena
- The price of an apartment in the Mudon Views in the Mudon Central Park is around AED 820,000 (USD 223,000)
- The price of an apartment in the Remraam is around AED 970,000 (USD 264,000)
- The price of a townhouse in the Casa Vista at Serena is around AED 1.3 million (USD 350,000)
Dubai Properties headquarter, 2 1st Rd – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
10. Select Group
Select Group was established in Dubai in 2002, but it completed several real estate projects in other Gulf countries and Europe. They’re best known for their mixed-use projects, but also develop residential, hospitality, commercial, and retail projects.
Select Group has completed more than 5,000 homes so far worth more than AED 7.5 billion (USD 2 billion). Besides, the upcoming and under-construction projects also comprise around 3,500 new residential units.
The founder and the CEO is Rahail Aslam, who is a well-reputed businessman in Dubai. A British national, Rahail Aslam made it to the Sunday Times Rich List when he was only 35 years of age.
In 2017, Select Group was also ranked as the Top Developer in the Middle East by Forbes Middle East. Their project, Jumeirah Living Marina Gate also won the Residential Project for 2017 Award by Construction Innovation Awards.
According to the Construction Week, Select Group ranked 10th among the Top 50 GCC Developers.
Select Group develops commercial, residential, mix-used, hospitality, and retail projects.
- The Retail at Marina Gate
- Jumeirah Living Marina Gate
- Studio One
- The Residence at Marina Gate
- NO. 9
- 1-Bedroom apartments in the West Avenue in Dubai Marina is available for AED 1.35 million (around USD 367,000)
- 2-Bedroom apartments in the Bay Central in Dubai Marina is available for AED 1.7 million (around USD 463,000)
Marina Plaza – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Can foreigners own property in Dubai?
Foreigners have no issues buying a freehold or leasehold property in Dubai. The government issued new foreign property ownership regulations as of 2002, making it significantly easier to buy property.
There are some restrictions as foreigners can only acquire freehold property in designated areas. Some examples are:
- The Palm Jumeirah
- The World Islands
- Downtown Dubai
- Burj Khalifa
- Business Bay
- Dubai Marina
What are the best areas to invest in Dubai?
It depends if you want to buy residential or commercial property. Downtown Dubai, Business Bay, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Village Circle, Arabian Ranches, and Springs are all popular among local and foreign investors.
What are the DLD fees in Dubai?
You must pay 4% of the property purchase price and an AED 580 admin fee to the Dubai Land Department (DLD).