Dubai’s real estate boom is currently in a maturation phase, with new legislation and regulations ensuring transactions meet international standards. As part of this process, the Dubai Real Estate Institute (DREI) was founded a year ago to train current professionals and produce the next generation of property experts.
Mohamed Al Shehhi (pictured above) is director of Dubai Real Estate Institute, the Middle East’s first academic institute for real estate professionals.
Al Shehhi has worked for more than nine years in academia. In non-academic roles, he was a planning and development consultant for Al Ain Municipality and Town Planning Department, director of Programme for Government Excellence in Ras Al Khaimah, and a consultant to Arkan Building Materials Company. He holds a PhD in management and an MBA from the University of Southern California, in the United States.
Emirates Business spoke to Al Shehhi to hear his perspective on the market. Al Shehhi spoke of the challenges of recruiting trained staff and experts from around the world to make sure Dubai has a pool of qualified talent to turn to.
What is the role of the DREI in the context of the current property boom?
The DREI has been established to support the boom in the market with so much development happening, so many developers, investors and companies coming to Dubai to benefit from the opportunities in the real estate sector.
There had been a problem because of a serious shortage of qualified staff in the sector and related business. So the big players in the market felt the need to have a training centre or a college to cater to their demand for qualified professionals and take advantage of the tremendous growth. So our role essentially is to support the growing industry and give it direction.
What are the areas in which you offer training for the realty sector?
We offer three types of programmes. At the academic level, we are offering a graduate diploma in real estate management. We also plan masters programmes to cover a whole range of other areas.
And all the courses are in co-operation with international universities. The second part is an executive programme, where we are targeting top and middle level management; or people who are already in the industry or those who like to explore the opportunities in the industry.
Most of these are short-term courses covering real estate management, real estate investment, facility management and urban design.
Finally, we also have tailor-made programmes for clients who approach us with specific needs related to training for their staff.
Do you have courses tailor-made for the UAE market?
While we bring faculty from abroad, we also work with them to design or adapt the curriculum to suit the requirements of the local industry while sticking to international standards.
How many students do you have?
We have 37 students who are doing the six-month higher diploma in real estate management. They are in their fourth module. But in the executive programmes, we have offered five, and more than 100 students have attended.
Do you have any co-operation with a major local player in the real estate sector here?
We have three areas of co-operation with them. One is professional development where we offer training programmes and solutions. The second area is in research. To understand the market, people need reliable and relevant information and data, which we source from the local market. Thirdly, we co-operate with local companies to arrange in-house training or internships for students who are not working in the real-estate sector.
There are a lot of unregistered and unqualified real estate brokers or sales agents in the market. Do you see the need to have professionally qualified real-estate brokers?
We are working with the government on a programme that will make sure practising brokers, or those who want to enter the market, take a certification and undergo a training programme with us.
How do you evaluate the current trends in the real estate market in Dubai? Are you optimistic the sector can retain the boom in the long term?
It is booming and will continue to be so. First, let me tell you the reasons for optimism. The institutional or regulatory aspects are maturing.
Second, the market has moved from leasehold to freehold. It has become an open market making it is easy for investors to do transactions.
The third source of optimism is the current economic boom witnessed in the UAE. The current economic outlook is positive and the real estate sector will have advantages.
‘Realty sector is booming'