With PropTech becoming increasingly utilised in the MENA region’s real estate market, there is a broad range of use cases. Yet, with countless examples, some offer brighter prospects than others. Here are five core PropTech trends in the MENA regions (in no particular order) that we think you should pay close attention to.
BLOCKCHAIN AND NFTs
NFTs are being utilised to securely record the ownership of and transactions surrounding physical properties. The UAE’s green property sector has seen strong demand for NFT usage for these very reasons. Leveraging NFTs to authenticate property certifications in a decentralized and transparent way is something that top blockchain companies like Qlindo are exploring in this instance.
NFTs provide a transparent way to represent proof of ownership which can make for the easy viewing of past transactions of a property. But they can also be used as a means of validating every previous buyer, payment, investment, or legal dispute that has occurred surrounding a property. Smart contracts that form the basis of each NFT can be programmed to automate both the complex and simple recording of these actions.
This creates a more reliable, faster, and more efficient process. So, the forward-thinking and innovative ambitions of countries in the MENA region are likely to be increasingly drawn to this superior PropTech innovation. The advances that NFTs offer for the region’s real estate markets in particular offer an exciting prospect, a prospect that is already being worked on now.
Expanding upon NFT usage in the MENA region is the application of metaverse technology. Dubai-based Union Square House (USH) is launching the MENA region's first metaverse mansions this year. The company will sell luxury properties as NFTs, with or without their physical twins. The properties will then have a digital version that can be downloaded via the metaverse. This metaverse application could be used as a place to entertain visitors, decorate, or just unwind within the replica virtual grounds.
This comes alongside the prospect of Dubai’s Metaverse Strategy. This strategy alone is aiming to add USD 4 billion to the country’s economy and create 40,000 jobs, making the metaverse an increasingly important aspect for property developers within the MENA region PropTech environment. The ability to create a more immersive and appealing real estate purchasing and consumption experience is something that will undoubtedly be explored more.
The application of artificial intelligence within the MENA region's real estate market is becoming much more widely adopted. The PropTech innovation is being integrated across a broad spectrum of use cases. These use cases range from providing enhanced property management experiences to aiding efficient property transaction and valuation procedures. Dubai’s Land Department emphasizes the significance of this via its adoption of AI within the valuation process for real estate units. Equally, AI is being utilised in the architectural space for initial design concepts and iterations via leveraging the capabilities of big data analytics.
NEOM is also heavily focused on implementing AI technologies to address three core challenges. The NEOM AI Challenge being addressed are the utilisation of AI to provide projections and insights for data-driven decision-making, to be utilised for inspections, and to operate machine-executable legislation.
So, the NEOM development alone demonstrates the sheer scale of applications for artificial intelligence within the MENA region PropTech space. Yet, it is evident that AI is being embraced across all facets of the region's real estate industry proving that these applications are highly practical and efficient. The application of AI within the real estate industry has substantial potential.
SMART BUILDINGS AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS
Smart buildings are gradually being acknowledged as a crucial step in collecting and leveraging data for the futureproofing of buildings and structures within cities. This goes hand in hand with internet-of-things technologies that are providing a key role in the automated regulation and delivery of core utilities.
Companies such as Netix Global are striving to implement these technologies in the Middle East. Netix Global is seeking to completely fund the integration of its technologically advanced smart building systems to contribute to the realization of a net-zero world within the Middle East.
Equally, a Middle Eastern development that puts the application of these technologies into perspective is Dubai’s Expo City. Expo City leverages an extensive range of sensors, systems, gateways, and building management applications within its internet-of-things ecosystem. In partnership with Siemens, the city's internet-of-things ecosystem collects data from thousands of sensors. The data is then automatically analyzed with automatic decisions being made via the system. This system helps maintain optimal conditions throughout the city’s energy usage, lighting, power efficiency, conditioning systems, and water usage.
So, applying smart buildings and internet-of-things technologies within Dubai’s Expo City along with countless other developments is a core trend in the MENA region’s PropTech space. This innovative property technology is fundamentally changing how residents interact with their external environments and this technology that will continue to rise in importance within MENA real estate.
3D PRINTING AND ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING
3D printing and additive manufacturing is providing the MENA region’s architects and designers with enhanced creative flexibility and a safer working environment. 3D printing in particular limits the need to adhere to typical building techniques and formwork. This means that innovative design that wouldn’t be possible with traditional construction methods, can be envisioned into reality.
The additive manufacturing and 3D printing space continue to open new avenues in the real estate construction process. For example, Dar Al-Handasah and Autodesk are utilising 3D printing and additive manufacturing by building a 3D-printed smart bridge that is capable of building and designing itself. Despite these PropTech applications being in their infancy, the potential they hold is notable. So, it is a unique and strongly appealing use case that will continue to be utilised in the MENA real estate market.
The modernization of real estate is offering countless opportunities in the global real estate industry, let alone in the MENA region. However, with the rise of sustainability-driven initiatives in the MENA region, leveraging PropTech innovations in the region is of high importance. The five PropTech applications we have highlighted demonstrate just how important these various technologies are becoming. Being aware of the technologies that are embraced in the MENA real estate market is a must, not only for real estate developers, but also for the prosperity of the region's environment, people, and economy.