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Dubai is expected to consolidate its position as the top city for corporate occupiers in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) over the next three years, according to the Occupier Sentiment Survey by JLL. The emirate's diverse economy and strong private sector have minimised the influence of oil price fluctuations, allowing it to achieve stronger economic growth than the rest of the country in 2014-15.
JLL also reported that the UAE's macroeconomic environment remains conducive to corporate growth and investment, offering ease of doing business, a transparent real estate market and global connectivity. The report noted increasing demand in Saudi Arabia and Egypt from companies servicing local markets, although Dubai is still preferred as a regional operations base.
"The results of our survey reflect that Dubai has solidified its place as the preferred business and financial centre in the Mena," said Dana Williamson, Head of Agency at JLL Mena. "Buildings that offer high-quality amenities and facilities, good accessibility and public transportation options, and strong property management are increasingly more popular."
The report said corporates in the region are attempting to achieve short-term cost savings through real estate initiatives such as refurbishment, noting that occupier expansion or relocation plans may increase with the delivery of more grade A office space.
"While many corporates have expressed a preference to refurbish their existing space not all existing locations are suitable for this, meaning there is still some demand for new locations driven by the flight to quality," the report said.
It also stated that multinational companies are driving the adoption of open-plan office configurations in the region. “Although many government agencies and local companies still prefer traditional cellular offices, multinationals are trying to introduce more open, collaborative and flexible designs within their Mena offices as part of workplace strategies to increase productivity." The report also took note of the benefits of sustainably designed office space through lower operational costs, which are now being recognised by occupiers in the region.
"There is an increased willingness to pay a rental premium for sustainable buildings, as occupiers focus more on total occupancy costs over the period of their lease. rather than just on the initial rent,” according to the report. "In Dubai, the sustainability trend is apparent as more developers are now seeking Leed certification to differentiate their buildings from the rest of the market.”
Source: Property Weekly