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The most valuable asset for the real estate industry isn’t land. It is data analytics

Data analytics is changing how properties are bought, sold, and managed in the UAE. But how easy is it to tap data for intelligence, and what are the benefits?

The most valuable asset for the real estate industry isn’t land. It is data analytics
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Data analytics is becoming a tool of choice for many real estate companies in the UAE. After relying on human intelligence for years, developers like Emaar and Damac are among the first movers to harness data to grow their businesses. For buyers, investors, and brokers, data analytics can provide real-time insights into property prices, rental yields, and the profitability of a particular location. 

Property valuation is perhaps the biggest issue data analytics can solve, as it is often subjective. While data relating to the property’s facilities are important, analytics tools can incorporate crucial details of amenities like hospitals and schools. 

Indirect trends such as the development of a new shopping center or airport or proximity to highly rated restaurants can also drastically change the value of a property. According to research by McKinsey & Company, nearly 60% of a property’s value comes from non-traditional factors.


Data analytics is equally valuable for property developers, helping them predict the future profitability of multi-million-dollar projects by analyzing market trends, pricing history, property location, and demand and supply. 

Because it can be predictive, data analytics can track factors such as demographics and employment trends. With these insights, developers can design marketing campaigns targeting a specific customer segment and optimize pricing strategies. 

Praveen Sharma, founder and CEO of Dubai-based Meteora Developers, which caters to the affordable luxury segment, says that leveraging data analytics has facilitated the sellout of their first two residential projects.

“We launched our first project, the East Crest, in May to completely sell it out within days before launching our second 7 Park Central, which also sold out within a week. This wouldn’t have been possible without us analyzing historical data, demographic information, and economic indicators,” says Sharma.

“Number-crunching helps real estate companies make informed decisions about where to invest, identify emerging markets, and predict future market conditions. We use a mix of in-house and third-party tech, intelligence, and resources to achieve our objectives,” he adds.


Property management is another area that can hugely benefit from data analytics, mainly through enhanced predictive maintenance and operational efficiency. ICD Brookfield Place, an office and retail development in the DIFC district, is a great example of how real estate asset managers make the most of data. 

“One of the key areas where data analytics has proved invaluable is optimizing maintenance running costs. By closely monitoring and analyzing the data, we can identify areas for improvement and implement predictive maintenance regimes, reducing downtime and costs,” says Haithem Ibraheem, operations director at ICD Brookfield Place.

He adds that the company can track occupants’ densities and behaviors within the building through data analytics, enabling it to make informed decisions about space allocation and amenities. This has helped improve user experience and allowed the company to achieve its triple bottom lines.

ICD Brookfield Place also relies on data analytics to achieve its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. According to Ibraheem, the process helps the company pinpoint sources of emissions from various activities so that it can take targeted actions.


The success seen by Meteora Developers and ICD Brookfield Place reflects the wider performance of the UAE’s real estate market. 2022 was particularly exceptional, with over $72 billion worth of real estate transactions conducted in Dubai, a year-over-year increase of nearly 78% and the highest record in the market’s history.

While demand continues to grow, investors and end-users are making more informed decisions and are being more selective, according to real estate consultancy firm JLL MENA. This indicates that developers need to differentiate their products from competitors.

Here too, data analytics can help, enabling companies to spot untapped opportunities, generate high-quality leads, and gain an edge over competitors. 

“Analytics provides actionable insights on market trends, consumer behavior, and economic factors, in addition to identifying which leads are most likely to convert. Companies using data analytics have a competitive edge as they can anticipate market shifts, identify profitable opportunities faster, and provide personalized service,” says Simone Dobson, chief services officer at real estate advisory firm Chestertons MENA.  

She adds that tapping into data analytics for real estate intelligence is becoming much easier thanks to advancements in technology and the increasing availability of data. “Dubai has matured as a market and can now provide access to good-quality live data about property prices, sales trends, rentals, vacancy rates, and other demographic data.”

One of the five pillars of Dubai Land Department’s new strategic plan for 2026 is to achieve a data-driven sector by maximizing the added value of data. 

“There’s a wealth of readily available data. However, it takes significant investment to interpret and respond to data movement in real-time,” says Dobson.

Indeed, the human element in the overall process remains critical, according to Swapnil Pillai, associate director for research at real estate advisor Savills Middle East. 

“Software helps in tracking and analyzing large amounts of data, but an experienced professional will be able to draw the right trends and recommendations.”


While data can be collected from different sources, the sheer amount of data available often means that companies struggle to convert it into accurate insights. After all, raw data needs to be cleaned, integrated, and analyzed. 

“Prioritizing the democratization of data and analytics is critical to getting the most out of your data and enabling speed of insight. The shortage of skilled data specialists means businesses must place analytics’ power to solve problems in the hands of those most incentivized to solve them – the decision-makers themselves,” says Karl Crowther, vice president for MEA at Alteryx.

Indeed, accessible analytics is a game-changer in unlocking the potential of data, especially as real estate and construction projects are constantly faced with consolidating vast amounts of disparate data sets from internal and external sources.

“The more complicated the project, the more data they need to gather, clean, consolidate, and analyze. Compare that need for insights against the state of business today, and you’ll see an accelerated need to mitigate risk before it turns into crisis and to seize the opportunity before it fizzles out,” explains Crowther.

“But to do so requires the ability to mine data for the trends and insights needed to make challenging decisions. Because no matter how much data you have, it’s useless unless you can access, analyze, and make data-driven decisions quickly.”

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