Bank assesses Dubai property market by counting expat kids

Published:  16 Nov at 6 PM
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US banking giant Citycorp’s brainchild seems to be an unusual method of measuring growth in the expat community and its effect on local property prices.

The scheme involves counting heads at international schools to determine the number of expat pupils, with Citycorp firmly convinced this will help estimate the direction of house prices in the emirate. According to Middle East economist for the bank, Farouk Soussa, as Dubai has no reliable population statistics, it’s tricky to analyse growth and trends in the expat population.

Soussa believes that the only way to counter the lack of official statistics is to head-count enrolments of the white-collar expat community’s children in the emirate’s international and private schools. Apparently, enrolments increased by 8 per cent between 2010 and 2011, with property prices rising in tandem.

Western banks operating in the UAE are constantly searching for innovative means to measure growth indicators such as property prices, employment statistics and other economic data. Around 96 per cent of the expat workforce’s right to remain is linked to employment contracts, with an increase in foreign workers reflected in an increase in school enrolments.

Similarly, the effect on Dubai’s economy of the 2008 financial crash saw a fall in enrolment of expat children. Given the large number of unskilled migrants in the emirate, there was no other defining indicator of Dubai’s prosperity, with the student head-count the only way to link economic growth with white-collar workers investing money as well as time in the country.
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