Property In Dubai A Bubble That Burst

With this dissertation what I would like to achieve is the following: I will carry out extensive research on the economic theory behind booms and bursts. I will look at some of the booms and bursts throughout history. I will attempt to make my own economic model behind what caused a boom and its subsequent burst and see if this model can be applied to the economic situation of the property market in Dubai. If a number of variables existed that suggested a burst might be coming, why was nothing done to stop it?

1.2: A brief history of Dubai

Thirty years ago almost all of modern Dubai was desert. In the mid 18th century a small nomadic group settled there and built a small town. This small town�s underlying asset being pearls. The pearl trade attracted people from all over the middle � east, all with dreams of prosperity. The town was named �Daba� after a local locust that consumed everything it encountered. This rapidly growing town was soon acquired by the Gunships of the British army. Britain maintained control of the area until 1971(The Independent2009). In 1971 Dubai and five surrounding sheikhdoms (Abu Dhabi, Al Fujayrah, Ajman, Umm al Qaywayn and Sharjah) agreed on a federal constitution and became The United Arab Emirates or UAE. In February 1972 a seventh Sheikhdom, Ras al Khaymah joined the UAE. At this point Sheikh Zayid Ibn Sultan Al Nuhayyan of Abu Dhabi became the first president of the UAE. The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid ibn Said Al Maktum was named vice president, and his eldest son, Sheikh Maktum ibn Rashid Al Maktum, the prince of Dubai, became prime minister. In 1990 Sheikh Maktum succeeded his father as ruler of Dubai and as vice president and prime minister of the UAE (Library of Congress2007).

It was around 1971, as the British were leaving that oil was first discovered. However to say that Dubai relied on oil for its growth would be wrong. Dubai had very little oil relative to its neighbouring emirate Abu Dhabi. So Sheikh Maktum had to diversify. He used oil revenues to create something he thought sustainable. �Israel used to boast it made the desert bloom; Sheikh Maktum resolved to make the desert boom� (The Independent 2009). It became a hub for tourism and financial services, Attracting capital and expertise from all over the globe. He invited the world to come tax free, and people came in their millions. A city seemed to descend from the heavens in thirty years. Would it be sustainable?

(Source : The Independent, The Dark side of Dubai, 7 April 2009)

(Source: Country Profile : UAE. Library of Congress � Federal Research division, July 2007)

1.3: From Boom to bust over night.

I arrived in Dubai in 2007 at a point when it was said that a third of the world�s construction equipment was in Dubai. It was the second fastest growing city in the world (second to Moscow) and appeared to be one big construction site. Skyscrapers were appearing over night to cater for increases in demand in property. However, a large part of this demand for property was merely speculatory. Investments in property appeared to be highly attractive and beneficial, especially to foreign investors earning in non dollar currencies. I say this because the dirham is pegged to the dollar (3.75 dhms per US Dollar). It was around late 2007 early 2008 that the dollar reached its weakest point making property in Dubai cheaper to people earning pounds for example. People also assumed that the dollar would one day appreciate; therefore giving investors that extra incentive. Dubai�s popularity was rapidly increasing and it was booming in the true definition of the word. However in September of 2008 things changed. See the following line graph of average residential sales prices to appreciate the extent of the crash.

Figure 1 Residential sale prices (AED/ft2)

Source: Landmark Advisory Board 2010.

As you can see in Q408 both the average price of apartments and villas plummet from a mutual peak of 1500 AED/ft2 to around 900 AED/ft2 from one month to the next. This is a massive average decrease of 40 percent.

I will attempt to demonstrate why this rapid increase in residential prices occurred and its subsequent decline and decide whether the boom and bust can be considered a bubble bursting in its true economic definition.

Literature Review � The Economic Theory and History behind Bubbles

2.1 � An introduction to bubbles

Essentially an economic bubble is an increase in the price of an asset or stock above its fundamental value and its subsequent decrease in value and implosion on the bubble is referred to as a burst. When asset prices increase speculators are overwhelmed by a sense of euphoria, chasing short term capital gains. A phenomenon that former chairman of the federal reserve Alan Greenspan memorably called irrational exuberance (Nial Ferguson, The Ascent of Money). Contrarily, when speculators� primitive instincts turn from greed to fear, the bubble created by the initial irrational exuberance can burst with astonishing abruptness; almost overnight.

Charles Kindleberger defined a bubble as �a sharp rise in price of an asset or a range of assets in a continuous process, with the initial rise generating expectations of further rises and attracting new buyers � generally speculators interested in profits from trading in the asset rather than its use or earning capacity. The rise is usually followed by a reversal of expectations and a sharp decline in price often resulting in financial crises� (Bubble, Bubble, Where�s the Housing Bubble?)

The initial boost in augmentation of the economy acts as a catalyst for both lenders and investor�s optimism about the future and asset prices rise swiftly. Nial ferguson refers to investors as an electronic herd, �happily grazing on positive returns one moment, then stampeding for the farmyard gate the next� (Nial Ferguson, 2008, 2009).

2.2 � Bubbles in History

The big ten economic bubbles (Charles P Kindleberger, Robert Z Aliber 2005)

1. The Dutch Tulip Bulb Bubble 1636

2. The South Sea Bubble 1720

3. The Mississippi bubble 1720

4. The late 1920s US stock price Bubble 1927-29

5. The increase in bank loans to Mexico and other developing countries in the 1970s

6. The bubble in real estate and stocks in Finland, Norway and Sweden

7. The bubble in real estate and stocks in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and several other Asian countries 1992-97

8. The bubble in real estate and stocks in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and several other Asian countries 1992-97

9. The increase in foreign investment in Mexico 1990-93

10. The Bubble in over - the - counter stocks in the United States 1995-2000. Also known as the �.com bubble�

Over and over again asset, security and stock prices have reached unsustainable highs and subsequently come crashing down. From boom to bust, this process is consistently associated with ruthless insiders exploiting asymmetries of information attempting to make a profit at the cost of first time investors. In Dubai, every three months or so �Emaar� one of the big real estate developers (of which it is alleged that the absolute ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed has a thirty percent stake) released property for sale at increasing prices, almost instigating the bubble themselves very similar to what John Law (a convicted murderer and gambling addict) did with shares of the joint stock company named �Company of the West� (Compagnie d�Occident) which resulted in the Mississippi bubble of 1720(Nial Ferguson, 2008, 2009).

All these bubbles in History have followed similar paths; Nial Ferguson believes it possible to dissect all bubbles into five stages.

2.3 Nial Ferguson�s Five Stage Model (Nial Ferguson, 2008, 2009)

1. Displacement: An incident or innovation in the economy that generates new and lucrative possibilities for investors/speculators. Kindleberger refers to this as the �expansion stage� of the business cycle (Charles P Kindleberger, 2005). In the cases of the Dutch Tulip Bulb, The South Sea and Mississippi Bubbles this displacement was the creation of the Joint Stock Company. In the case of the US .com bubble the displacement or expansion was innovations in technology like the internet. In Dubai It could be argued that the displacement stage of the bubble was when developments were open for sale to foreign investors as opposed to previously when only locals could purchase land and property. This initial process causes a rise in spending which leads to inflated prices and increased consumption which combined translate to economic growth.

2. Euphoria/overtrading: Rising expected profits induce the appreciation in value of assets and shares. Investment soars because credit is in abundance. In Japan in the eighties Japanese investors had access to mountains of credit made available by na�ve bankers that didn�t even contemplate a crash and the Japanese went on an �investment spree�. In the US in the 1990s, during the time preceding the crash �.dom� companies had access to almost infinite funds from venture capitalists with distorted perceptions of the future profitability of these firms (Charles P Kindleberger and Robert Z Alibir). Dubai was the same pre crash � credit was very accessible; I will asses this further in my �analysis� segment of the dissertation.

3. Mania/bubble: The anticipation of rapid, easy capital gains entices first time investors and unscrupulous, esoteric brokers cater for this demand, in a ruthless attempt to sell assets and shares before a crash, which a seasoned broker is capable of predicting.

4. Distress: Insiders become aware that prices of assets and shares exceed their fundamental values and exploit the asymmetries of information by selling at profit.

5. Revulsion/discredit: prices begin to plummet and the �electronic herd� stampedes to exit the market causing the bubble to implode. The value of commodities � bonds, stocks, land, buildings and houses decline to levels that are 30 to 40 percent below peak prices (Charles p kindleberger and Robert Z . Aliber, 2008, 2009), this adheres perfectly to residential duelling prices in Dubai (refer to figure 1). (Nial Ferguson, 2008, 2009).

The Fundamentals behind this model are asymmetric information, availability to rapid, relatively cheap credit and the capability of capital to flow freely over geographical borders.

This five stage model is accurate but basic. I will now progress to more specific models in detail behind the creation and existence of economic bubbles.

2.4 The Hyman Minsky model of instability in the supply of credit.

This model created by Hyman Minsky can be used to explain financial fragility in economies. Minsky focuses on changes in the availability of credit. During periods of growth the supply of credit increases and during economic slowdowns this supply decreases. In times of growth, usually following an economic displacement like mentioned in Nial Ferguson�s model, investors feel more confident about the profitability of a number of investments and seek to finance these investments with credit. In the meantime, lenders become more enthusiastic about providing credit, even for investments, that prior to the expansion, had appeared too risky � they become far less risk averse, reducing minimum down payments, minimum margin requirements. For individual lenders the cost of borrowing has to remain competitive too to maintain market share. However, when the mood changes, the economy slows down and fear kicks in, investors act much more cautiously. Lenders react similarly and their risk averseness increases and they supply less credit. Minsky believed that these cyclical changes in the availability of credit are a major catalyst to financial instability and are a factor in causing bubbles (Charles p kindleberger and Robert Z . Aliber, 2008, 2009). I am certain that minsky�s model was apparent in Dubai and definitely a defining factor of the recent burst. I will go on to prove this in the critical analysis part of the dissertation.

Minsky also mentions �an over-estimate of prospective returns, or excessive leverage� (Charles p kindleberger and Robert Z . Aliber, 2008, 2009) during the �euphoric� period. Speculation suggests the acquisition of assets for the capital gain from expected surges in their value as opposed to income generated by one of these assets or for their use. The income generated by an asset or the use of an asset is considered to be the fundamental value of an asset and in bubbles the prices of assets fluctuate far from their fundamental values. This point is made clearer in the next part of the literature review.

Minsky also states that a sense of euphoria or depression in one country maybe contagious in another country. I believe that the recent housing bubble in the United States and its subsequent burst influenced the real estate bubble in Dubai and was a significant cause of the crash.

2.5 � Fundamental Value

Researchers seem to concentrate on one of the following elements when considering a bubble: rapid appreciation of assets, overly optimistic predictions of future prices, a discrepancy between price and fundamental value and obviously a vast depreciation of assets when the bubble pops (Margaret Hwang Smith and Gary Smith, 2006).

Karl Case and Robert Shiller believe that �A tendency to view housing as an investment is a defining characteristic of a housing bubble� (Margaret Hwang Smith and Gary Smith, 2006). However, Margaret Hwang Smith and Gary Smith, in their 2006 journal titled �Housing, Housing, where is the housing bubble?� disagree. They argue that housing can be considered a legitimate investment and that the best way to spot a bubble is to determine the discrepancy between the actual prices of houses and the fundamental value of these houses. Speculators in general do not make an attempt to calculate the underlying value of a house, they respond to expected capital gains. Margaret Hwang Smith and Gary Smith define a bubble as a scenario where the equilibrium price of an asset is higher than the present value of the �anticipated cash flow from the asset� (Margaret Hwang Smith and Gary Smith, 2006). Nonetheless, fundamental values may rise rapidly (for example an increase in population and therefore an increase in the acquisitions of houses for their use as opposed to expected capital gains, or an increase in rent) may stimulate a legitimate increase in the prices of houses. Equilibrium house prices may also increase rapidly and not necessarily be considered a bubble if their actual price is lower than their underlying fundamental value. They state that the real defining characteristic of a bubble is when equilibrium market prices cannot be answered for by the assets anticipated cash flow. Case and Shiller refer to the real estate market as being populated �by amateurs making infrequent transactions on the basis of limited information and with little or no experience in gauging the fundamental value of the properties they are buying and selling�(Margaret Hwang Smith and Gary Smith, 2006). If this is true and I believe it was, in Dubai, to a certain extent (through knowing investors on a personal level) how can one expect for fundamental values to equal market prices?

Most agents within the real estate market i.e. brokers, buyers and sellers seem to use what is known as �comps� when dealing within the real estate market. �Comps� are the latest sale prices of homes with similar specifications within the same area. �Comps� tell us how much other individuals are prepared to pay but not whether these prices are justified by the fundamental value (Margaret Hwang Smith and Gary Smith, 2006).

Attempting to demonstrate whether market prices differ from fundamental prices isn�t easy. Figures for average real estate prices are infamously imperfect. This is mainly due to the fact that houses are not homogenous in their specifications and environments. However, the National City Corporation use a multiple regression which considers a ratio of house prices to household income in a given area to mortgage rates, population density, the ratio of household income in the given area to the national average and historical prices to determine how much actual prices deviate from their real values (Margaret Hwang Smith and Gary Smith, 2006). The reason a ratio of house price and household income is used is based on theory by Karl case and Shiller that argue that housing prices are a bubble waiting to pop if the average investor is �priced out of the market�(Margaret Hwang Smith and Gary Smith, 2006).

There are problems with this model e.g. the historic house prices may not be based on fundamental value. Some economists including Edward Leamer argue that if house prices have increased in a larger proportion than rents a bubble exists (Margaret Hwang Smith and Gary Smith, 2006). � I will attempt to look at rents versus house prices in my critical analysis section of the dissertation to determine whether this was apparent in Dubai. I will also attempt to look at the population density because I believe that it is relevant to fundamental value because an increase in population causes an increase in the demand for residential properties that will be used as dwellings. Minsky stated that a fundamental value of an asset was to do with is use and the income (rent) generated from the asset.

2.6 � A brief look at the recent financial crisis in the USA.

Hyman minsky stated in his interpretation of a bubble that euphoria or depression in one country can be contagious and spill over into another. I believe that the bursting of the real estate bubble in the states and the subsequent lack of worldwide credit was highly influential in the bursting of Dubai�s housing bubble.

As per usual the great real estate and leverage bubble in the US of 2007 was instigated by a pervasive macroeconomic displacement. Prior to the 2000�s banks would give loans to home owners and keep those loans as assets in their books (Burton G. Malkiel, 2010). However, post 2000 the entire banking system changed. Banks carried on issuing loans for mortgages but instead of holding them as assets on their books they would keep them for a short period of time and then sell them on to investment banks who would bundle different loans with different credit ratings into mortgage backed securities, also known as collateralized debt obligations (Burton G. Malkiel, 2010). Loans are split into different risk classes or tranches. So, low risk loans and high risk loans are bundled together and sold as one financial product which was deemed a good investment. This caused deterioration in lending standards (Burton G. Malkiel, 2010). Employees in charge of originating loans to clients were reckless when assessing the risk of the individual�s potential default especially when dealing with subprime mortgages because they knew that the bank was only going to hold these loans for a short period of time and then pass them on. Insurance companies were also insuring subprime loans with credit default swaps because they were too na�ve to foresee mass defaults. These innovations in the banking system made credit easily accessible to individuals who may have not been considered credit worthy before these changes (subprime). Many financial institutions held vast amounts of these new bundled securities based around mortgages and held less equity backed securities and increased their leverage ratios (Burton G. Malkiel, 2010) making them very vulnerable in the case of a crash. Highly accessible credit at attractive rates due to lowered lending standards led to a huge bubble in the prices of houses. The inflation adjusted price of a commonplace home was roughly identical in 1999 as it was in 1899; however, between 2000 and 2006 real home prices doubled (Burton G. Malkiel, 2010). This is portrayed in the following line graph based on data from the Case-Shiller home price index in the US.

Figure 2 Case-Shiller Home price index, 1989 = 100. Source: (Burton G. Malkiel, 2010)

As you can see from the graph there is a rapid ascent in prices from around 2000 followed by a quick fall in prices starting in 2007. Prices began to decline and euphoria turned to fear. Houses were worth less than the amount of money owed to the banks and individuals began to default in mass. With massive amounts of defaults occurring, the value of the bundled mortgage backed securities or collaterized debt obligations (cdos) decreased rapidly. Many highly leveraged financial institutions holding long term assets financed by the short term mortgage backed securities did not have sufficient liquidity to continue to function (Burton G. Malkiel, 2010). All credit markets were frozen, excluding the US Treasury securities markets and financial institutions did not have sufficient liquidity to cover their short term debts. In the case of a bank an example of a short term debt is a deposit and people began to fear for their deposits and runs on banks happened in the US and UK institutions with vast amount of money invested in the US housing market e.g. Northern Rock. The US government was forced to bail out a number of financial institutions to prevent a total financial collapse (Burton G. Malkiel, 2010). Banks all over the world became cautious about lending money. Amlak finance Dubai stopped lending money all together and I think this was significant in the bursting of the bubble; it ties in directly with Minsky�s model of cyclical changes in the supply of credit. Panic struck and a worldwide financial crisis ensued.

3 - Critical Analysis

In this section of my dissertation I will evaluate real life data and literature about the situation in Dubai. What caused the rapid increase in price in the housing market? and what caused the resultant rapid decline in prices.

3.1 � Displacement.

Economists appear to agree that every bubble starts with a displacement. A macroeconomic change, or innovation, that induces pervasive adjustments in how agents within the economy behave and perceive the future. It can also be considered a paradigm shift. In the case of the �.com� bubble the displacement was the availability of the interweb to mass users. In the case of the recent housing and leverage bubble of the US the displacement was innovations in the banking system and the creation of new bundled financial products and collaterized debt obligations.

In Dubai I believe that there were three displacing factors:

The first displacing factor occurred in May 2002. Dubai was never rich in oil like its neighbouring emirate Abu Dhabi so it focused on creating a hub for tourism and commerce. It also promoted the development of real estate. In 1997 publicly quoted Emaar Properties and Al Nakheel Properties were setup ( In 1998 emaar started developing the Dubai Marina and the Emirates Living Community; however, properties within these developments were released on leasehold contracts which mean that properties are leased out for ninety years as opposed to being owned freehold. These developments were not successful in the market. People were sceptical about the leasehold contracts. Things changed in May 2002 when the crown prince General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktum implemented a new law, stating that ex pats were able to buy property in certain areas of Dubai.

The following graph shows all transactions from 1994. The graph is based on data from a company that provides data and information covering all deals and transactions in Dubai since 1973. The company is an exclusive partner of the Dubai Land Department � the real estate registry for the emirate. (REIDIN, DUBAI FOCUS, 2010)

Figure 3 Quantity of transactions in Dubai from 1994 (, DubaiFocus, 2010)

The graph shows that as of the changes in law about the ownership of real estate from 2002 there is not a significant increase in the quantity of transactions. In fact, there is a decline in transactions until 2005 when quantity of transactions increase rapidly from there onwards. I would still, however, consider the innovations in the legislation behind the ownership of property a displacement because without the changes, ex pats would never have been able to own property on a freehold basis and the bubble would never have happened. I say this because the vast majority of investments into the property market have come from expatriate sources. See the following chart which depicts the value of transactions by nationality.

Figure 4 Value (AED) of property transactions by nationality from 1973 (, DubaiFocus, 2010)

As you can see from the chart foreign investment is very significant in value and this could never have happened if the changes in legislation had not been made. Also, cross border transactions are a key in the creation of a bubble and as you can see from figure 4 cross border transactions are huge.

Another displacing factor was hype generated by the media about talks of a new GCC currency called the Khaleeji. Talks were being had about the possibility of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain creating a new currency for their states. These talks were being had around 2006/2007 and nothing was ever finalised but if it was to happen, especially at a point in time when the dollar was weak, this new currency would be valued higher than the specific currencies of the gulf states and investments in these countries would appear even more attractive to speculators as they would rise in value from the creation of a new currency. This ties in with the next displacing factor which is the weakness of the dollar due to financial fragility in the US.

In the Spring of 2006 the dollar weakened dramatically due to financial instability in the US. Towards the end of 2006 it looked as if the exchange rate was rising towards $2. In April 2007 the Dollar depreciated to over $2 and on the 27th of July 2007 it got to $2.06 the weakest it has been since 1981, it continued to fluctuate around $2 for the next five months and on the 9th of November 2007 it was $2.11. After this point, on average, the pound began to decline in value as the global recession hit the UK.

The importance of this analysis about the dollar exchange rate is that it shows that from around 2006 until 2008 the dollar was relatively weak compared to the pound. Transactions for Real Estate were booming during this period as portrayed in figure 3 and a huge portion of these transactions were fuelled by investment from the United Kingdom as portrayed in figure 4. I therefore believe that the weak dollar was statistically significant in the increase of transactions from UK investors.

The exchange rate of the Dollar versus the Indian Rupee shows a similar story. From around January 2007 the dollar declines in value against the rupee to a peak of around 39 rupee to the dollar. Compare this to a value of around 55 rupee in 2003. Again the weakness of the dollar compared to the Indian rupee can be argued to have catalysed vast investment from Indian investors from 2006 as the dollar was depreciating until late 2008 when the global crisis begun to have consequences on other nations e.g. India and the UK. I therefore consider this a displacement which lead to increases in transactions, increases in prices of property and overly optimistic expected prices. Refer to graphs of the dollar exchange rates versus the pound and rupee in the appendix section of the dissertation.

3.2 � Euphoria/overtrading

If you refer back to Nial Ferguson�s five stage bubble model you will see that after a pervasive macroeconomic displacement in the economy, if it is tending towards a bubble situation, an economy will experience euphoria, also referred to as overtrading. Rising expected profits induce the appreciation in value of assets and shares. Investment soars because credit is in abundance. If you refer back to figure 1 you will see that prices begin to rise steadily from 2005/2006. The number of transactions also increases rapidly from around the same period. Nial Ferguson also talks about the abundance of credit; this too ties in with minskys model of the pro cyclical supply of credit. It implies that many of these transactions were fuelled by credit or leveraged. Again this is similar to what was happening in the US before their crash.

The following line graph shows the percentage of residential transactions fuelled by credit or leveraged. I have also included the percentage of residential transactions that are classed as �other�. I have put �other� transaction types into the equation because a substantial amount of transactions are classed as �other�. �other� refers to transactions that are none of the following transaction types: �sale�, �mortgage�, �leasing�, �valuation�, �grant�, �rent�, �compensation� and �pre-registration�. I�m not entirely sure as to what types of transaction would be considered as �other�. This, I will consider a limitation in my data; however, this is data provided by a governmental entity and censorship is alive and well in Dubai.

Figure 5 Percentage of residential transactions leveraged with credit.

What figure 5 shows is a steady increase in the percentage of transactions fuelled by credit until 2006 when there is a vast decline in this percentage and a continuous decrease until 2009. I wonder if the global credit crunch caused by the US crash hit Dubai much earlier than people thought, however why did prices not stop falling until late 2008/2009?. There is a visible pattern here; as transactions leveraged by mortgages decreases, transactions classed by Dubai Land Department � the real estate registry for the emirate as �other� increase. This appears to be rather dubious in my opinion; maybe the global credit crunch hit Dubai but in an attempt to maintain high prices until ruthless inside investors with asymmetries of information could leave the market with huge profits the quantity of transactions was kept high by the government, who have invested interests. Emaar Properties and Al Nakheel Properties are publicly quoted companies but ownership is predominately by wealthy governmental authorities. We all know that OPEC controls the supply of oil to maintain high prices; maybe something similar happened with property in Dubai. Nial Ferguson does mention ruthless inside investors have played a significant role in past bubbles; I think this could be apparent here. (Nial Ferguson, 2008, 2009). The graph shows that vast amounts of credit were used to leverage investments until 2006 when the amount declines rapidly. Probably because banks were influenced by the credit crunch in the US and feared they may have inadequate liquidity. I will analyse the pro cyclical supply of credit in a later section of my dissertation.

3.3 � Mania/Bubble and distress

Nial Ferguson refers to the next the next stage as mania or bubble, where first time investors are enticed to the market and seasoned investors who can predict a crash scramble to sell their investments at a profit before the crash. If you refer back to figure 3 that shows the quantity of transactions I would say that the mania/bubble stage was occurring from 2007 to 2008 at when the quantity of transactions are skyrocketing. At this point too, prices are still very high (refer back to figure 1). The closer to late 2008 the sillier the investment, as bubble bursts in october 2008. Therefore transactions around about this time have to be from first time investors who cannot see a crash. This is referred to by Nial ferguson as the distress period.

3.4 - Revulsion/discredit

Prices begin to plummet and the �herd� stampedes to exit the market causing the bubble to implode. This is apparent in late 2008 and 2009. Transactions stay high (Figure 3) but prices are declining rapidly (40 percent on average). So, investors are struck by fear and rush to sell properties even if it is done at significant losses for fear or even harsher losses or a total collapse of the market. Nobody knew that Abu Dhabi would bail Dubai out.