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JLL Shares Insights On Commercial Real Estate Market As It Launches Its First MENA Occupier Sentiment Report

Corporates introduce collaborative and flexible office designs to maximize efficiency of existing space and improve workplace productivity

​​JLL, the world's leading real estate investment and advisory firm, today published its first Occupier Sentiment Survey in the MENA Region. The report provides insights into the current conditions and future expectations of corporations based in the MENA region.

The Occupier Sentiment Report incorporates the perspectives of international conglomerates and local businesses on the various real estate opportunities and challenges that corporates face in the Middle East. The results of the survey highlight five distinct areas: growth markets, choice of building, quantum of space, use of space, and sustainability.

Dana Williamson, Head of Agency at JLL MENA, said: "Given the economic, social and political volatility in the region, we continue to engage with our clients to understand the factors that guide their real estate decisions. We believe that the findings of JLL's Occupier Sentiment Report will help facilitate a more productive corporate environment and contribute towards a mature market. As the majority of corporations remain focused on more efficiently using existing space, offices are transforming to improve workplace productivity. Sustainable space has also emerged as an important trend, as corporates increasingly understand the impact green building features and specifications have on lowering operational costs."

She continued: "The results of our survey reflect that Dubai has solidified its place as the preferred business and financial centre in the MENA region. Buildings that offer high quality amenities and facilities, good accessibility and public transportation options, and strong property management are becoming increasingly more popular."


  • Growth Markets: The UAE's macro-environment remains strong and conducive to corporate growth and investment, offering ease of doing business, a transparent real estate market, and global connectivity. Dubai's diverse economy and strong private sector has minimized the influence of oil price fluctuations, allowing it to achieve stronger economic growth than the rest of the UAE in 2014-2015. Dubai is expected to consolidate its position as the top city for corporate occupiers in the MENA region over the next three years. There is still growth in demand in Saudi and Egypt from companies servicing these local markets, however Dubai remains preferred location for regional operations.
  • Choice of Building: High quality amenities, sufficient parking, good accessibility and international standards of property management are increasingly significant factors that influence occupancy and rental levels, as office densities increase and flexible working becomes more common. International property management teams are working to add value to tenants by undertaking lease renewal negotiations, ensuring tenant satisfaction and reducing operating costs through energy and sustainable management practices.    
  • Quantum of Space: As the majority of occupiers remain more focused on accommodating growth within existing real estate portfolios and utilizing existing space more efficiently, the MENA markets are seeing a limited increase in net absorption. Corporates are attempting to achieve short-term cost savings through real estate initiatives such as refurbishment. Occupier expansion or relocation plans may increase in the future, as MENA markets witness the delivery of Grade A office space in the next couple of years. While many corporates have expressed a preference to refurbish their existing space not all existing locations are suitable for this, meaning there is still some demand for new locations driven by the flight to quality.
  • Use of Space: Although many government agencies and local companies still prefer traditional cellular offices, multinational corporates are trying to introduce more open, collaborative, and flexible designs within their MENA offices as part of workplace strategies to increase productivity. With a focus on cost control and efficiency gains, workplaces are increasingly re-designed to increase their use of alternative workplace strategies, including hot desking and remote working. Technologies such as web conferencing have also prompted and enabled alternative workplaces.   
  • Sustainability:  The real financial benefits of occupying more sustainable space, particularly through lower operational costs, are starting to be recognised by occupiers in the MENA region.  There is an increased willingness to pay a rental premium for sustainable buildings, as occupiers focus more on total occupancy costs over the period of their lease, rather than just on the initial rent. In Dubai, the sustainability trend is apparent as more developers are now seeking LEED certification to differentiate their buildings from the rest of the market.

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