Dubai real estate developers and lends are preparing for an expected drop in property prices, after Standard & Poor estimated that values may fall by a fifth.

The credit rating agency said that subdued demand, slower economic activity and downbeat investor sentiment all contributed to their prediction.

“Slightly lesser demand will come from non-residents,” S&P said in a statement. “In early 2015, non-resident demand from Russia and other member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council was particularly subdued.”

However, analysts say that developers and lenders are better prepared for this than when a similar crash in 2008 brought the city to the brink of bancruptcy. Lending restrictions, a clampdown on speculation and greater dependence on rental income mean that builders and banks should be cushioned against repercussions.

Dubai’s real estate market is notoriously volatile, and has scarcely seen a period of steady, modest growth throughtout the last decade of its transformation from desert to bustling business hub.

Better controls from the UAE central bank, weaker demand and more focus on rental income rather than property development have both tempered house prices and meant that developers are better placed to withstand market shocks.

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