DUBAI, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- As India's currency plummeted against the U.S. dollar, United Arab Emirates-based Indian expats, the biggest group of foreigners in the Gulf state, increasingly shun gold purchased and hunt for bargains in their country's property sector.
Because the Emirati currency Dirham is pegged to the greenback at a fixed rate of 3.667 to 1, Indian expatriates in Dubai and the UAE in general are able to invest in property back home at a much more favorable rate than last year.
On Thursday, the Indian Rupee fell to an all time low at 65.29 to one dollar. Over the last 6 years, the Rupee lost two thirds of its value.
"Since early 2013 when the Rupee started tumbling, we have been receiving ample demand from Indian residents for property loans," said Shabbir Gunerwala, a loan officer working for Indian bank ICICI in Dubai.
Santosh Tandel, the regional head Middle East of real estate firm Indiabulls, said, "Given the favorable exchange rates in the past months, remittances back to India have seen an upward trend."
With over 1.3 million expats, Indians are the biggest group of foreigners living in the UAE which has a total population of 8.5 million people. Major Indian banks ICIC, Bank of Baroda and HDFC run branches in the Dubai and Abu Dhabi and offer crossover markets financing for non-resident Indians (NRIs), a general term for Indian nationals living abroad.
Because gold prices plummeted since the start of 2013 and real estate in India became cheaper from the perspective of Indian expats earning a salary in the UAE, more NRIs from the subcontinent take the opportunity to realize the dream of buying their own four walls in India, said Tandel.
Most NRIs do not plan to stay in the UAE for good but rather buy property back home as an investment and to have a home of their own once they return to their place of origin. A villa is available for 60,000 dollars, which is 3.8 Lakhs, a price for which in Dubai you hardly get a one-bedroom apartment, for example. Lakh is the Hindi expression for 100,000 Rupees.
Earlier in June this year, the three-day Indian Property Show in Dubai attracted 17,000 Indian expats who were spotting for the "right object" as over 100 developers from across India exhibited. The Indian Property became a huge success so that its organizers Sumansa Exhibition decided to hold three fairs per year in the Dubai World Trade Center's convention center.
With 90 percent of Indians in the UAE coming originally from the south of India, real estate objects in Mumbai, Kochi, Bangalore and Chennai was demanded in particular, said Alok Anchan, manager sales with Mumbai's biggest developer in relation to annual revenues.