Dubai luxury home market soars as world’s rich flee covid

News Network
May 6, 2021

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After nearly three decades in London, Christophe Reech was fed up with the city's pandemic lockdowns. This spring, he sold his luxury townhouse and jetted off to the desert sheikhdom of Dubai to start a new life with his family.

There was no turning back, he said. The French business magnate's super wealthy foreign friends were doing the same, driving an unprecedented surge in sales of Dubai's most-exclusive properties.

“Here in Dubai, there's only one strategy: Business as usual,” said Reech, the chairman of an eponymous group that owns real estate and financial technology companies. The philosophy is simple: “Let's make sure everyone's vaccinated and keep everything open."

“Of course that attracts people like me," he said.

As vaccines roll out unevenly worldwide and waves of infections force countries to extend restrictions, foreign buyers flush with cash have flooded Dubai's high-end property market, one of the few places in the world where they can dine, shop and do business in person.

They're snapping up record numbers of luxury villas and penthouses, sending prices rocketing in this boom-and-bust market.

Sales of Dubai's upscale properties, once slow, soared 230 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period last year.

Prices in some top-end areas rose as much as 40 per cent, according to Property Finder, the country's largest real-estate website.

A record-breaking 90 properties worth 10 million dirhams each (USD 2.7 million) changed hands last month, on top of 84 in March, surpassing heights hit eight years ago, according to real estate consultancy Property Monitor. For comparison, there were 54 such transactions in all of 2020.

"Tons of people are coming in and buying multimillion dollar properties on the spot, with no due diligence time whatsoever,” said Matthew Cooke, a partner at consultancy Knight Frank, who manages penthouse sales on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah artificial archipelago.

As with previous cycles, cash buyers started snatching up homes at bargain prices and flipping them for profits. Analysts say that will continue until prices rise too high and returns diminish.

How long the craze lasts and what awaits the skyscraper-studded city then remains unclear. Home prices are still falling in the middle tiers of the city's saturated property market, which has seen values drop sharply since peaks reached seven years ago due to overbuilding.

Average residence sale prices in the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, collapsed to USD 400 per square foot this month from USD 1,300 in 2013.

“The market is going through a boom time ... but people are very aware that Dubai can run too quickly and it all falls apart," said Jackie Johns, partner at Premier Estates, an affiliate of Christie's International Real Estate, referring to the debt-driven crisis that brought the city to its knees in 2008.

The hot streak in the luxury market isn't unique to Dubai, as ultra-low interest rates and families' desire for more space has seen the wealthy in cities like New York and Paris decamp to suburban mansions. But there are other factors at play in the glitzy emirate, home to the long-haul carrier Emirates and tallest tower on Earth.

Since first reopening to tourists last summer, Dubai has pitched itself as the world's pandemic-friendly vacation spot.

With no mandatory dayslong quarantines, foreign visitors now party in Dubai's bustling bars and on its beaches, their selfies at hotel-resorts and helicopter pads stirring resentment back home.

The tourist influx helped drive the country's dramatic surge in coronavirus cases in January, prompting the UK to suspend flights.

But the United Arab Emirates, with its young population and low mortality rates, has fared relatively well during the pandemic.

The country of over 9 million, which relied heavily on the Chinese state-backed Sinopharm vaccine for its inoculation campaign, has administered 10.6 million vaccine doses.

A global financial center known as an oasis in the volatile Middle East, Dubai long has benefitted from capital flight. Homeowners on the Palm Jumeirah — which saw 43 per cent of all April transactions — include Afghan warlords and the political elite from countries like Nigeria, Syria and Lebanon, all searching for a safe place to park their savings.

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Grace
 - 
Tuesday, 18 May 2021

The fewest elders, the lowest dead toll. As simple as that.

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June 8,2021

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Bengaluru, June 8: Six-time legislator and former Minister C.M. Udasi (85) passed away on Tuesday at a private hospital here due to age related illness.

He is survived by his wife, a daughter, and son Shivakumar Udasi, a BJP Member of Parliament representing Haveri.

A former Minister for Public Works in the B.S. Yediyurappa cabinet in 2008, the veteran leader represented Hangal assembly constituency in Haveri district. He was popular in the constituency due to his easy access to people.

Identified with socialist movement, Mr. Udasi was first elected as an independent legislator from Hangal in 1983. In 1985, he retained the seat contesting on the Janata Party symbol.

When the Janata Dal split into JD (Secular) and JD (United) in 1999, he was with JD (U). While he joined BJP in 2004, he quit the saffron party and followed Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who launched the Karnataka Janata Party in 2013.

As the KJP nominee, he lost to Congress candidate Manohar Tahasildar. He returned to the BJP fold along with Mr. Yediyurappa and wrested the seat back in 2018.

Initially, he was a follower of former Chief Minister late J.H. Patil, in later years Mr. Udasi was associated with the Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa.

Condoling the death, Mr. Yediyurappa said that Mr. Udasi was a gentleman and dynamic politician committed to solving people's problems. He noted that his work as a PWD minister was noteworthy.
 

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News Network
June 6,2021

New Delhi, June 6: A Delhi government hospital on Saturday issued a circular asking its nursing staff not to use Malayalam at work as "maximum patients and colleagues do not know this language" which it said causes a lot of inconvenience.

The circular issued by the Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (GIPMER), one of the leading facilities here, has asked its nurses to use only Hindi and English for communication or face "strict action".

G B Pant nurses’ association president Liladhar Ramchandani claimed it was issued in pursuance of a complaint sent by a patient to a senior officer in the health department, regarding use of Malayalam language at the hospital, while adding that "the union disagrees with the wordings used in the circular".

The circular says, "A complaint has been received regarding Malayalam language being used for communication in working places in GIPMER.

Whereas maximum patient and colleagues do not know this language and feel helpless causing a lot of inconvenience".

"So, it is directed to all nursing personnel to use only Hindi and English for communication.

Otherwise serious action will be taken,” it reads.

Ramchandani, also the secretary general of Delhi Nurses Federation said, "As a language's name, Malayalam, has been inserted in the circular, many will take offence".

He also claimed that this circular was "consequent of the complaint filed by the patient" and "internally, there is no issue among the nurses and the administration".

Many nurses at various hospitals across India, hail from Kerala, with Malayalam being their native language. The circular has drawn sharp criticism from other nursing unions too.

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News Network
June 14,2021

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Tel Aviv, June 14: Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure as Israeli prime minister has come to an end, as the country’s parliament on Sunday approved a new coalition government led by right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett.

Bennett, the head of an ultranationalist party that controls six seats in the 120-seat Knesset, was sworn in as prime minister after the parliament backed the new coalition government by a razor-thin margin of 60 votes to 59.

Bennett will lead an unlikely alliance of left-wing, centrist and right-wing parties, as well as a party that represents Palestinian citizens of Israel, who account for 21 percent of the country’s population. The parties have little in common apart from a desire to unseat Netanyahu.

Under a rotational agreement, Bennett will serve as prime minister for two years, after which he will be replaced by centrist leader Yair Lapid, the chief architect of the new government.

They plan largely to avoid sweeping moves on issues such as policy towards Palestinians in the occupied territories while they focus on domestic reforms. But with little to no prospect of resuming any sort of fair peace negotiations, many Palestinians are unmoved by the change of administration, saying Bennett will likely pursue the same right-wing agenda as Netanyahu.

Senior political analyst, Marwan Bishara, described the event as a “family feud”, saying that there are no ideological differences between the old and new prime minister.

“They are basically all belonging to the same right-wing Zionist family,” Bishara said, referring to Netanyahu and Bennett.

The differences between them have been personal, vindictive,” he said.

End of an era

Netanyahu, who served for 12 years as prime minister, sat silently during the vote on Sunday. After the new government was approved, he stood up to leave the chamber, before turning around and shaking Bennett’s hand. A dejected Netanyahu, wearing a black medical mask, then briefly sat in the opposition leader’s chair before walking out.

Netanyahu, the most dominant Israeli politician of his generation, failed to form a government after Israel’s March 23 election, its fourth in two years.

The 71-year-old is loved by his hard-core supporters and loathed by critics. His ongoing corruption trial, on charges he denies, has only deepened the chasm.

He remains the head of the largest party in parliament and is expected to vigorously oppose the new government. If just one faction bolts, it could lose its majority and would be at risk of collapse, giving Netanyahu an opening to return to power.

His opponents have long reviled what they see as Netanyahu’s divisive rhetoric, underhanded political tactics and subjection of state interests to his political survival.

The country’s deep divisions were on vivid display earlier on Sunday as Bennett, a former settler leader and hard-right religious nationalist who has called for the annexation of most of the occupied West Bank, addressed parliament ahead of the vote.

He was repeatedly interrupted and loudly heckled by supporters of Netanyahu, several of whom were escorted out of the chamber.

More anti-Iran rhetoric

Bennett’s speech mostly dwelled on domestic issues, but he expressed opposition to efforts by the United States to revive Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

“Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” Bennett said, vowing to maintain Netanyahu’s confrontational policy. “Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action.”

Bennett nevertheless thanked President Joe Biden and the US for its decades of support for Israel.

Netanyahu, speaking after him, promised to return to power and predicted the incoming government would be weak on Iran and give in to US demands to make concessions to the Palestinians.

“If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country in our way,” he said.

Both Netanyahu and Bennett’s remarks did not mention the plight of millions of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation. 

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