Abu Dhabi has more than 40,000 vacant flats

Emirates completes largest statistics of buildings, companies and families

Abu Dhabi had more than 40,000 vacant apartments at the end of July among a total of more than 382,000 housing units available in the emirate, according to the biggest commercial and social statistics conducted by the government.

The data showed Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate in the UAE, had 165,071 buildings, around 5,436 two-storey houses and 34,457 villas at the end of July.

The enumeration was conducted by the Statistics Centre of Abu Dhabi (SCAD) between April and July and it covered buildings, establishments and families in the emirate.

The figures were published by 'Al Khaleej' daily on Thursday.

“At the end of July, Abu Dhabi had 40,593 vacant apartments while there were 90,024 establishments operating in the emirate,” the report said.

It gave no reason for the growing number of empty flats despite a steady growth in the emirate’s population, standing at around 4.5 per cent last year.

According to the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), the emirate’s total population stood at around 1.6 million at the end of 2009, including nearly one million in Abu Dhabi city.

But the report showed there was a strong supply of new housing units, which could explain the large number of vacant apartments. It also showed the number of empty flats could increase as more units are on their way to the market.

“By the end of July, nearly 10,149 buildings were under construction in Abu Dhabi,” SCAD said in its statistics, which it described as the largest and most comprehensive enumeration operation to be carried out by the emirate.

Experts said the increasing housing supply is the main factor for the decline of at least 25 per cent in rents over the past year. “We expect a further fall in rents but not a big fall…Abu Dhabi’s population is growing but supply is growing as well…this means we will see a further decline but slow and gradual…actually I would say a return to normalcy,” said Ahmed Sabeel, a real estate broker based in the Capital.

Abu Dhabi, which controls nearly nine per cent of the world’s proven oil resources, had been among the most expensive cities in terms of rents before the 2008 started to reverse a rapid increase in housing costs.

The decline has allied with lower food prices and other factors to sharply depress inflation in the emirate to just under one per cent in 2009 from over 12 per cent in 2008.

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