"It just doesn't feel the same," one friend pointed out as he said happy new year this morning.
"What is it exactly?" I replied.
"2009" he said abruptly. "I just do not have a very good vibe about this year."
Things are gonna get weird this year. There is no doubt about that. Middle East politics is more confused today than it ever was, Obama, the global economic climate, environment... etc - I do believe 2009 will be quite a transitional year.
But lets keep it close to home. I do except that Dubai will also have its fair share of change too.
Here are a few things I expect we will see less of in 2009.Landlords from Hell
For the past 5 years, landlords have rightfully earned the rank of being Dubai's scum of the scum. They basically screwed 99% of dubai's population and -each other's reputation along the way- by demanding ridiculous terms such as doubling rent, single payment advance cheques, creating hidden "charges" such as fees for parking, facility, service (or the lack of it to be more precise), bending tenant protection laws and many other low-life type of behaviour.
With over 40,000 new residential units expected to hit the market in 2009, and thousands of other empty units already bought by speculators waiting to be flipped, not to mentioned the ones that will be foreclosed, the balance of power will be disrupted a bit more in favor of us tenants. Keep your fingers crossed.Free Mall Parking
There are a few reasons why I believe we will see more malls start charging a fee for parking. For example. Mall developers will be facing challenges maintaining a proper return on investments from their facility. Observers today are speculating that many businesses won't be able to afford some of the crazy rent malls are charging today. As a result, retailers will chose to "optimize operations". Meaning, branches not making proper margins will be shut down, and focus efforts on better performing outlets.
Bottom-line is, mall owners/operators will do anything to keep their operations afloat. Taking up 1/2 of the parking space and turning it to a B-level shopping area and charging for the rest of the parking is -usually-the most reasonable move they can make.Fancy Schmancy Real Estate Advertising
Driving around the streets of Dubai has never been the same for the past 4 to 5 years. I am not referring to deteriorating traffic or the ever-changing-crane-infested skyline. I am talking about ADS. Ads everywhere. On bridges, on cars, on rooftops and bus stops. In airports, Ads on plans, in planes and ads can be seen from planes. There are ads of buildings on buildings.
Newspapers and magazine had their share in the environment gangbang by stuffing what we hope to be a 30 to 36 pages of informative reading; into an almost 100 pages of which 90% of them are real-estate ads.
Until very recently, Gulf News had the following supplements: Properties, Properties 2, Freehold, Freehold 2, Classified (that includes property ads by the way), and Property weekly - an over 150 pages of property ads and listings.
Today, with real estate companies letting more people go everyday, shirking projects and real estate company bosses and ex-bosses playing catch-me-if-you-can with the authorities; advertising will be the the least of their worries. Its about friggin time, me thinks.Bank Loan Promotions
Some of the most absurd things i used to come across everyday were Loan Promotions. You name it, they did it. Take a loan and we give you a plane ticket home. Take a loan, we throw in a mobile phone. Take a loan and enter a promotion to win a (insert crazy-ass giveaway that ranges from a ball pen to a Mercedes S-class). Take a lone to pay the rent, school bills, house bills, car bill, medical bills. One bank was giving away loans if you are a woman and wanted to bet a boob job. (Ok that was in Lebanon
, but you could have done it here and label it under - medical procedure)
But with tighter pockets, more reluctant investors, cash flow will dry up and banks will be less inclined to give up its liquid mulla. As a matter of fact, they will convert its ads to "Give us your money and we will give you more rewards - in interest."
I don't know how that is gonna work with a city that seems more interested in Islamic finance (the non-riba based banking), but my guess a shaikh will come up with a fatwa to create a Shariaa friendly interest yielding savings account.
I don't know .. I still have a few more i can think of. But i think these above will be the most aparant changes. What do you think?