Manchester has been growing increasingly popular as a property investment destination in recent years, as investors both within the UK and overseas have sought the advantages of the British property market without the high prices and mediocre yields of old favorite London. Now, major government initiatives and private investment deals are about to see huge amounts of money poured into the city over the next few years, feeding massive development in both property and infrastructure.
Needless to say, this is creating a lot of optimism about the city's future, and further fueling property investment in the city which in turn brings even more money into Manchester's economy. It is widely agreed that the outlook is bright, but in order to get some rough indication of specifics in terms of where Manchester is headed the best approach is to look at a city that has previously undergone a similarly large-scale investment process. One of the closest matches, and certainly one of the most high-profile, is Dubai.
This is hardly a damning comparison, of course. Dubai has been utterly transformed by its own investment process, from a city important within the Gulf region but relatively obscure outside it to one of the world's biggest economic centers and a major property investment hub. Even a catastrophic crash when the financial crisis hit was not enough to put investors off of returning en masse to the much more stable recovered Dubai that emerged a few years later.
Dubai's transformation began with a situation which was in many ways similar to that which Manchester finds itself in today. In both cases, the process started with the government having a specific vision for the development of the city and its growth as a major regional center, and then providing the investment to back it up whilst also pushing for major deals with international investors. For Dubai, the vision was to create a major tourist and commercial hub. For Manchester, the UK government's Northern Powerhouse initiative aims to increase the city's economic and financial profile in order to reduce the UK's overreliance on London. Creating an investment destination is a specific goal in both cases.
Manchester is also much like pre-transformation Dubai in that it is a city well-placed, geographically and economically, to become the regional center that the government hopes for. In both cases, the transformation began with infrastructure improvements to facilitate travel to and within the city, along with major development projects across all property sectors to facilitate an influx of people and businesses.
Of course, this by no means should be taken to mean that Manchester will follow Dubai's template exactly. All the same, the similarity in their situations is more than sufficient to mean that a look at the massive growth of Dubai – physically, economically, and in terms of influence – and take this as a definite positive sign for the potential of Manchester in the years to come.