TBY talks to Sultan Butti Bin Mejren, Director General of the Dubai Land Department, on government support, the investment climate in the sector, and the visions of the leadership.

Sultan Butti Bin Mejren
From an educational background in Islamic Studies and Law, Sultan Butti Bin Mejren joined the Dubai Land Department in 1986. Senior appointments included Deputy Head of Department, and Head of Investigations. Ultimately, in 2006, he became Director General of the Government of Dubai Land Department. He has won accolades from the Dubai Government Excellence Programme for customer and employee satisfaction, and employee services. Sultan Butti Bin Mejren has expanded the scope of the Land Department to provide quality services for real estate sector employees, as well as that of its regulatory arm, the Real Estate Regulatory Authority, and of the educational arm of the Dubai Real Estate Institute.

How does the department reaffirm the ongoing support of the government for the real estate sector?

The Land Department was established in 1960 by an order of His Highness Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the late ruler of Dubai, in order to safeguard the property rights of the city during the building of the UAE, and lay the foundations for the Union. With the establishment of the Land Department, the subsequent growth of one of the most important real estate hubs in the Middle East and the world emerged, giving birth to the brilliant boom of the sector. Falling under the umbrella of the Dubai Executive Council, headed by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the Land Department continued striving to provide a comprehensive range of real estate services, most notably overseeing sales transactions, regulations, and the registration of all transactions. The Land Department offers exceptional services with the efforts of a qualified national workforce, operating under a client-centric approach. This work ethic is based on a corporate culture of productivity and competitiveness, which draws from the UAE Vision 2021.

What is the role of the department in providing an attractive investment environment for the real estate sector?

The Land Department seeks to become a beacon for real estate in the region and the world, with developments that will elevate the sector with help from active departments that include Real Estate Regulation (the regulatory arm), Real Estate Investment Management & Promotion Centre (the investment arm), and Dubai Real Estate Institute (the educational arm). The Land Department provides over 164 comprehensive services to customers, going beyond registration and titling to provide a fully integrated experience for its customers. The department is also active in the development of the necessary legislation to propel the real estate sector in Dubai, along with organizing and promoting real estate investment, as well as the distribution of knowledge in real estate. The Land Department offers exceptional services with the efforts of a qualified national workforce, working hard to provide the best services and facilities for clients. This work ethic is based on a corporate culture of productivity and competitiveness, which draws from the UAE Vision 2021.

How has Dubai's real estate market and solid investor confidence improved over the years since the credit crunch?

The Dubai real estate market is back on track. Recently, we revealed figures that show the total value of real estate transactions in Dubai for 1H2013 at AED108 billion from a total of 30,469 transactions—an increase of 30% from the same period of the year before. This reinforces the positive trend of the market over the past two years, bringing the total number of transactions in 2012 to AED154 billion, an 8% increase from 2011. The high percentage of growth reflects ongoing real estate developments in the Emirate that continue to attract local and international investors to Dubai. The real estate market in Dubai continues to provide an ideal environment for investment in terms of durability, flexibility, and transparency. Investors continue to capitalize on opportunities that have arisen from price corrections witnessed in the market over the past two years. The price index has shown an upward trend over the past few months as a result of increasing demand to purchase land, villas, and apartments for distinguished projects in Dubai. We predict that as market recovery continues to unfold in the upcoming period, which has been backed by the increase in commercial and residential rental prices, investors will be encouraged to increase their spending in Dubai.

How would you evaluate Dubai's bid to host the World Expo 2020?

The Dubai Land Department continues to support the Emirate's bid to host the World Expo 2020, which represents a major meeting point for the international community to discuss issues related to the global economy and sustainable development. We are very positive that Dubai has a strong chance of securing a win under the campaign “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future" inspired from the vision and leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and reflecting the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai. The department supports this vision and strategy to strengthen Dubai's position globally.