Entrepreneur plans new app to revolutionise Dubai property rental sector

Rashid Al Ghurair said tenant issues such as frustrations over price transparency were common

A leading Emirati entrepreneur plans to launch a new app to revolutionise Dubai’s rental sector.

Rashid Al Ghurair said tenant frustrations over property pricing and access to landlords were issues that new technology could help solve.

Speaking to The National, he said he was determined to reinvent the way residents found suitable properties and to help landlords maximise incomes.

He described the current system as “fragmented”, arguing that the sector was now ripe for change.

“More than 70 per cent of Dubai’s population rents but the rental process is relatively primitive,” said Mr Al Ghurair.

“Tenant frustrations are common due to a lack of price transparency, the financial burden of paying rent in one or two cheques and a mismatch between pictures and the advertised properties.

“We will be developing an app-based solution built on tenant-centric values to empower residents at every stage of the rental journey.”

In the past decade, Dubai’s growing status as a global hub has fuelled a surge in the construction of thatresidential properties.

Close to 21,000 units were built in the city in the first half of 2019 alone, with a further 38,000 scheduled for completion by December.

Next year, Expo 2020 Dubai is forecast to attract about 25 million visitors to the emirate within six months, a statistic not overlooked by construction firms.

Yet recent concerns over the potential for oversupply has seen a drop in rental prices, with tenants demanding better rates and a waiver of security deposits.

Mr Al Ghurair said the time was right to use new digital technologies to change the UAE’s rental market, improving transparency and aiding tenants and landlords alike.

Property agents in the city agreed, arguing the sector had “some way to go” in enhancing tenants’ experience of renting.

“The rental market is ripe for digital disruption and improvements can be made to the rental experience, such as transferring agents’ fees to landlords,” said Steven Leckie, sales manager at Metropolitan Premium Properties.

“Technology has a big role to play in real estate and it’s evolving, but we have some way to go.”

Last year, Mr Al Ghurair launched Cafu, a service allowing customers to order fuel direct to their vehicles rather than driving to a petrol station.

On Tuesday, the businessman said he now had his sights firmly set on the creation of a new app for Dubai’s tenants, providing “real solutions to real problems”.

He said a launch date had yet to be decided, but that customers could expect an announcement soon.

“Every aspect of our lives in the UAE is embracing digital transformation – we bank, hail a ride and order food to our homes all with a simple tap of our mobile,” he said.

“But with real estate, our practices and behaviour have not kept up with the pace of change.

“We have decided to take on the challenge of reinventing the way renters discover and live in their new homes.

“Landlords too stand to gain from embracing disruption, which will inevitably alleviate many of the pain points such as renting their units faster, maximising returns, and finding and retaining the right tenants.”

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