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Real Estate Giant: Atif Rahman, Founder & Chairman of ORO24 Developments

CBNME conducted its third Real Estate Giants roundtable at Jumeirah Emirates Towers. We spoke to Mr. Atif Rahman – ORO24 Developments, on a variety of topics. The real estate market has seen a exponential boom since the start of Expo 2020.

According to JLL, over 40,000 expected residential units will be handed over by the end of 2022, showcasing the emirate’s strong and resilient sector, especially with how it was able to bounce back from the pandemic two years ago.

The number of Dubai residential units in total, including apartments and villas, has been reported to be at a total of 657,000 on March 31st, 2022 with the expected delivery of 42,000 additional residential units by the end of the year.

The supply of completed residential units is based on quarterly surveys of the entire Abu Dhabi and Dubai metropolitan areas that reflect units that have been handed over for immediate occupation, with the expectation for the year ahead being another successful one with continuous increase in demand, transaction volume and new project launches.

Property Finder also reported that following the conclusion of Expo 2020, 6,983 real estate sales transactions worth AED 18.2 billion were recorded in April, the highest ever for the month since 2009.

Secondary market sales transactions, comprising 60% of the total, constituted 4,212 transactions worth AED 12.86 billion, while off-plan properties, comprising the remaining 40%, constituted 2,771 properties worth a total of AED 5.33 billion.

Compared to April 2021, April 2022 witnessed 45.48% more transactions, resulting in a 66.62% spike in value. This is broken down into a 46.2% increase in the secondary volume and a 63.86% increase in value, as well as a 44% increase in off-plan sales transactions and a 73.68% increase in value.

A multi-awarded and recognised entrepreneur; Atif Rahman is credited with initiating a renaissance in the property development market by bringing unique modular strategies of providing “real estate solutions for all” thus fulfilling the dreams of millions of owning a property in Dubai. Under his stellar stewardship, his previous ventures have achieved success in a short span of time making him a leader of property development in the region.

He comes with two decades of pioneering experience in successful Real Estate Development across Residential, Commercial and Hotel & Serviced Apartment sectors. With an unblemished track record, he has carved a brand name for himself and has established harmonious relationships with key stakeholders across Government entities, High Net Worth individuals and financial markets.

His robust experience and expertise in land procurement, world class project design, successful sale & marketing campaigns, and most importantly, timely delivery with quality construction puts him on a unique platform helping him run the property development business 360 degrees.

Here is what he had to say in regards to the below topics.

It’s a globally known fact that the Dubai economy is the first to bounce back after any crisis. And the performance of the Dubai real estate market is the talk of the entire world. On that note, it is important to recall and applaud what the government has done over the last decade and a half – the kind of trade liberalisation, immigration reforms, and the sort of crisis management during the pandemic has increased the global ranking and investor confidence in Dubai and the emirate’s real estate market.

Hosting the Expo in the aftermath of the pandemic was the best proof of Dubai’s resilience. Opening in October 2021, I doubt any other country would have the ability to put together and pull off such a global event with more than 24 million visitors. Many countries had still not received their first round of vaccination in October 2021, but Dubai was leaps and bounds ahead with the completion of four rounds of vaccination, efficiently handled the crisis and attracted the world to Expo 2020 Dubai.

Dubai has created a belief system – not just for the region but for the whole world – that you can recover from the biggest disasters efficiently. The city’s real estate has picked up quite well in the past decade or so – even more so post pandemic. You could literally launch anything in Dubai’s real estate market today and it is immediately sold out. It sells like hot cakes. I think it’s here to stay, and it’s because of these reasons.

It’s not a sentiment, it’s a belief that is driving the real estate market. It is strongly regulated, and backed by government policies and wise leadership.

What I’ve believed in and implemented over the last 21 years of my career is extensive importance to training and knowledge development within the workforce. It’s not just making statements, it’s our reality – your employee is your real capital. The most premium asset an organisation has is its workforce.

You can come up with a vision, you can spend on marketing; but ultimately it boils down to them to execute it and implement it. The smarter, the more educated the workforce is the faster the results are delivered in a more efficient manner. Furthermore, it results in retention. Invariably people stick around with a company not just for financial gains but also for intellectual gains.

At Oro24, we have implemented a mandatory 10-day training course for every new employee irrespective of the department they join. I’m not a believer of hire and fire policies. Once we select a candidate its about how we can work together to uplift each other. What is a company? A company is nothing without its staff. They are the people who implement a company’s strategies and who deliver the results. When a company incorporates such a practice it brings a higher level of expertise within an organisation.

I want my salespeople to understand the technicalities of a project, not just the Engineering department which consists of the Project Management team, the Tender & Contracts team, the Procurement team, and the Interior Design and Architecture team – all these teams need to be in sync so a project we’re all working together on runs smoothly.

The more you create your organization into a knowledge database, the more you focus on implementing
training programmes, I think it converts your company into a strong workforce in a short span of time.

Training and education lead to knowledge which is the biggest asset an organisation can have.

The mid-income sector is the backbone of any economy like the SME or MSME is in the corporate world. We have to the understand the economics of the real estate and construction business. It is very simple – the cost of the land, construction, utilities, conveyancing, and profit margin – add these together and you’ll get the value of a project. Margin is the only thing that is directly under the control of the developer. When a market matures everyone operates on an optimised margin. With regards to land costs – its not as costly in Dubai as it should be because of the quality of infrastructure. But the challenge is land availability – good quality land is not that easily available.

When you look at the overall mathematics of any real estate project, the highest outlay is towards construction.
There is very little you can do in terms of optimising construction costs at the top – if you segregate the costs of construction there are three portions – the structure, MEP and finishes. The structure depends on the land you’ve purchased and the kind of project you’re building. If it’s a high rise, the structure costs increase. With mid- and low-rise buildings, the structure costs can be controlled, MEP costs depend on many factors such as the level of modern innovations.

Finishes depends on the aesthetics and the ambiance the developer is looking to create. The supply chain, suppliers, and sub-contractors all these factors contribute to quality of finishes and cost of the total project.

Another factor is that one can buy the best materials and have the best designs but if the execution isn’t right, or the contracting partners aren’t right which means they don’t have the correct experience or skilled manpower to execute it – the project is bound to fail and be a disaster. By default, Dubai has a different level of standard for everything whether it be restaurants, airlines, or hotels, the overall lifestyle here is quite upscale. I think affordable luxury is a key segment of the real estate market.

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