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Nombasa Mawela conquering the Dubai property market

Nombasa Mawele

MAIN IMAGE: Nombasa Mawela – licensee of Seeff Property Group Dubai

Editor

Dubai is one of the world’s premier cities, consistently attracting a stream of South African professionals and entrepreneurs. Towards the end of 2023, Mawela, listed among the “Top Women in Dubai”, became the licensee for Seeff Dubai.

Mawela, a trailblazer in the Dubai property market, is the first black South African female property professional to lead a major branch of a top South African property brand in Dubai. Her rapid rise to prominence as one of the top black property professionals is a testament to her exceptional skills and dedication. She has also earned a seat on the Board of SABCO, the South African Business Council in Dubai, further solidifying her influence in the industry.

Mawela shares her insights into the Dubai property market, growing opportunities for South Africans, and her property journey.

You’ve distinguished yourself in business and are making a name for yourself within the Dubai property market. Why the move to real estate?

I have an absolute passion for property and was already successfully engaged in the local property and development sector before my move to Dubai. Property is in my blood, and with so much excitement and property development happening in Dubai, it was the next logical move for me.

My time as a QS also empowered me with enough skills to understand the property development industry holistically. A skill I needed as I entered the Dubai real estate market.

Let’s talk a bit about Dubai. What prompted you to move there and, specifically, to enter the local property market?

Dubai is the city of the future; it represents enormous innovation and is a vibrant hub of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. It is a fabulous lifestyle and offers enormous property investment opportunities for South Africans.

What led to the move to take on the first Seeff franchise in Dubai?

The Seeff property brand has always appealed to me, and being part of the Group is a huge honour. It is the most established property brand in South Africa, and from the onset, it has been an innovator associated with many of the advances in the property sector. Samuel Seeff is an incredible mentor, having been at the forefront of the property market for decades.

What’s happening in the Dubai property market – who’s buying, and what are they buying?

The Dubai property market is booming for own-use and investment, especially off-plan developments and resales. It attracts buyers from across the globe with a mix of developments on offer, from compact apartments with 5-star amenities to luxury villas and estates.

South Africans are increasingly looking at the Dubai market. Our buyers have been mostly entrepreneurs from various industries and experienced and upcoming property investors. Sales have been mostly luxury apartments, priced upwards of R10 million, bought off-plan, and these offer attractive ROIs.

Do you find South Africans looking to relocate to Dubai?

Dubai is very popular with South Africans, with many working or having business interests here. Many buyers are not necessarily buying property to relocate, with most of our investors so far investing in off-plan developments for the rental market.

Dubai’s new visa offerings are attractive for people looking for a second passport. The golden visa offers a visa for up to 10 years (renewable) and the ability to host and bring your family as well. You can also now open an offshore personal and business bank account in Dubai.

Can you share any insights from working in the Dubai property market that could be relevant to the local South African market?

As a global property market, it is fast-paced and competitive, and you have to be able to handle the pressure. Aside from the basic principles of selling property, you have to be highly knowledgeable, and it helps to be well-connected.

Do you have any tips to share for agents who need to advise their clients on buying in Dubai?

There are many pitfalls and nuances to the Dubai property market, and anyone investing in offshore property should always take care and preferably work with a credible agent. Seeff Dubai’s advantage is that as the licensee, I am from South Africa, and we are backed by a credible brand. Working with us at Seeff Dubai, therefore, not only provides the peace of mind of working with a top South African property brand, but you are actually working with South Africans who will have the client’s and agent’s best interest at heart.

Lastly, could you share a bit about your experience of being a woman working in real estate? What are some of the challenges and opportunities?

I began my career armed with a BSc in Quantity Surveying from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, as a girl in safety boots and a hard hat, working for one of the “Big Five” construction companies in Africa. From there, my interest in property grew with Pam Snyman as one of my mentors.

Right from the beginning, my focus is on innovating, learning, and training, with a strong emphasis on marketing services and forging key partnerships. I do not just want to be part of change but aim to drive it.

Real estate offers enormous opportunities for women in South Africa, not only to be property sales agents but to drive businesses forward by becoming principals and business owners. That said, you have to make it happen; it is not the type of career where someone else is going to lay out a career path for you. You have to do that for yourself, but the rewards are worth it.

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