How Abu Dhabi is leveraging PropTech and AI to optimize real estate operations

Guided by the government’s prudent directive and ultimate support, Abu Dhabi is one of the cities in the Middle East that has succeeded in placing itself in the forefront of the PropTech revolution.

June 22, 2023
  • Zenah Al Saraeji

The global real estate sector has been witnessing a technological shift, which has accelerated rapidly over the past couple of years, making it now a clear fact that Proptech and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are not only here to stay, but also to grow and expand. Data from Grand View Research indicates that the Artificial Intelligence market is expected to grow globally at a compound level of around 38% between 2022 and 2030, reaching USD 1.7 trillion from only USD 93.5 billion recorded in 2021. A portion of this figure is projected to be derived from the UAE as the country strives to be the world leader in AI by 2031. Moreover, the UAE aims to utilize AI in the built environment and various other sectors to improve innovation and increase reliance on automating procedures for a faster, safer and a more seamless user experience.

Government initiatives

Guided by the government’s prudent directive and ultimate support, Abu Dhabi is one of the cities in the Middle East that has succeeded in placing itself in the forefront of the PropTech revolution, demonstrating notable expansion in AI and other cloud-based solutions lately. The capital city understands the full scope of utilising PropTech innovations and the multiple long-term benefits that they bring back to the country, as well as the various real estate players alike. With that said, in partnership with the Advanced Real Estate Services (ADRES) - a PropTech venture developer – Abu Dhabi has launched Quanta and Dari platforms in 2022.

The main purpose of Quanta is to make real estate data in Abu Dhabi accessible to all stakeholders and parties. It is a data-driven digital solution that works on establishing accurate and comprehensive reports and generating dashboards that are easy to process and use by the end-user. Moreover, Quanta offers various information on transactions, real estate supply, financing solutions, and overall market performance. Dari, on the other hand, is another digital platform that provides cybersecurity and safeguards consumers against any scams, fake agents and unauthentic online listings of properties. Furthermore , Dari acts as a one-stop-shop for investors/buyers, allowing them to handle all real estate operations, from sales/leases of properties to creating real estate dashboards and reviewing all licensed agents in one platform.

Private Sector initiatives

Following the government’s footsteps, the private sector in Abu Dhabi has also recognised the big shift that PropTech has created in the real estate world, and the competitive advantage a company can gain just from utilising the different digital solutions in its system. Therefore, several firms in Abu Dhabi are supporting startups in the PropTech field and are investing heavily in these emerging companies.

For instance, Aldar, the leading real estate developer and manager in Abu Dhabi, has launched various accelerator programs (in collaboration with Hub71 and other partners), such as ‘Scale-Up’ to hunt for the most promising PropTech startups in real estate. Aldar is also known for introducing its own inhouse digital solutions and innovation projects in the various real estate sectors, such as Provis - an integrated property management system that handles a range of services, including sales and leasing, consultancy and valuation. Other examples of major venture capitals that are based in Abu Dhabi and support the digital transformation ecosystem in real estate by investing in PropTech startups are Shorooq Partners and BY Venture Partners among others.

In recent years, multiple PropTech startups have indeed penetrated the market with their innovative solutions, taking real estate digitisation to a whole new level in Abu Dhabi and the wider MENA region. This was further reinforced by the Covid’19 pandemic, which accelerated the urgency of such technological deployments. Huspy, for example, was founded in 2020 to help facilitate the process of finding verified properties to potential customers, arrange viewings as well as look up the most suitable financing and mortgage options and get them approved all in one place.

What’s in it for me?

Hearing about all the new technological advancements that have emerged in real estate is great. But one would wonder what the real value of adopting such technologies is. The truth is, whether it is augmented or virtual reality, GIS mapping, 3D printing, online listing websites, AI-powered big data analysis, blockchain or digital twinning, these various PropTech applications can be of tremendous value for the various real estate players - be it investors/buyers, agents, landlords, and even the government at a more macro level. Below is a list of the top 3 advantages of adopting PropTech solutions, from the perspective of the different relevant stakeholders.

  1. Enhanced user experience – the use of augmented and virtual reality can help customers view the properties of their interest virtually from the comfort of their homes. End-users can also benefit from conducting safe and secured transactions without worrying about fraud or scam commercials. End-users can also enjoy seamless operations with less paperwork to review and sign, and with the ability to navigate the different financing options and securing them online. This, in turn, can instantly enhance customer satisfaction and help landlords who offer such streamlined operations to attract and retain tenants. Moreover, the agents’ experience can also be enhanced as having the entire process of purchasing/renting a property digitised - from the moment it is listed and viewed online till the time a transaction is safely made, is more convenient for them to focus on closing more deals faster without the hassle of going back and forth with the clients.

  2. Optimising operations and cost saving – deploying technology in a property leads to energy savings while maximising performance. This is because AI and cloud-based applications can control energy consumption and adjust based on its changing needs. They can also detect equipment failures before they occur, which landlords/tenants can proactively react to as appropriate. Also, while construction, operation and other costs are being conserved by utilising technology, companies can also achieve higher sustainability credentials which serves well to their social responsibility towards the planet as well as meeting government policies in this matter.

  3. Informed decision making – Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and big data can provide users with crucial information based on data driven property analytics and valuation modules which can help them make informed decisions about their current challenges, future needs and more. Moreover, as governments make exclusive data – such as transactions, supply, property prices and indices available and accessible to the public, they are increasing their transparency. This has a direct link towards increasing the country’s credibility and improving the overall business sentiment. The result of that is a suitable economic and business environment that allows investors to assess and make informed decisions on their prospective investment opportunities in the country/city.

While the PropTech revolution is considered somehow slower than the technology disruptions in other markets, this is its era, and we will only see it growing globally in the coming years. Governments and the private sector are becoming more aware of its integral role in developing the built environment and improving the interaction between the different real estate parties. They are therefore pumping in more capital and investments to support its growth. Through its global tech ecosystems, hub71, Abu Dhabi is pushing further into attracting top international technology firms to set up their PropTech businesses in the city. The city is also working on enhancing the business environment by increasing transparency through its various new PropTech launches. Abu Dhabi is at a phase where the real estate market is flourishing in terms of supply and demand, so it is perhaps the best opportunity for the city to capitalise on introducing new PropTech innovations for more optimised operations and enhanced user experience.

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