Feature: Developers You Should Know About
In this special feature, we catch a glimpse of the latest projects being delivered by the leading developers in the region. The feature indicates how the top developers in the region continue to grow in confidence due to Expo 2020 and showcase their latest projects.
Walid El-Hindi, CEO, IMKAN Properties
Performance in 2019 and expectations for 2020
2019 was a year of first impressions for us as we acquired 166 acres of land in Cairo, saw the delivery of over 151 units at the Alburouj project in Egypt, and delivered Villa Diyafa – a luxury hotel in Morocco – with 27 keys added as part of an expansion.
In the UAE, we launched SHA Emirates at our second home destination, AlJurf, and, driven by positive feedback in the market we expanded into and additional phase of the project by introducing new villa types.
For 2020, we have a couple of large-scale projects in our pipeline; we’ve started the year with the launch of our new Rabat-based flagship mixed-use development, Le Carrousel, in Morocco. The first phase of this project was sold out in December and we’ve just started construction with the building contract awarded to SOGEA MAROC, which is a subsidiary of French concessions and construction firm Vinci. We’ll also handover our beachside community Nudra and Abu Dhabi’s first urban park, Sheikha Fatima Park. We’re expecting big deliverables this year with over 1,000 units scheduled for delivery by the end of 2021.
IMF projections suggest that Expo 2020 will contribute to economic diversification across the UAE this year, with potential to drive the fastest growth in the UAE’s non-oil economy sectors such as real estate, tourism, hospitality etc. Our goals are closely aligned with those of Expo 2020, focused on innovative and sustainable ways to create better communities. Recently we announced our commitment to the Guardians Initiative at AlJurf with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOC-CAE) and Alliances for Global Sustainability (AGS) – the initiative pledges to safeguard and preserve Abu Dhabi’s diverse heritage, nature, wildlife and marine environments.
Undeniably, this year’s Expo is a key part of how the UAE is positioning itself for 2020 and beyond. These two factors are also central pillars in the development of all IMKAN products, and we are expecting to see increased interest as the spirit of Expo takes hold later this year.
Sustainable and Energy Efficient Projects
Both topics are instrumental to our research at IMKAN – sustainability and energy efficiency. With that being said, not only do we consider the need for planning safe and secure spaces but also keep in mind the preservation of the local environment, landscapes and ecosystems surrounding our projects.
On a large scale, we have developed a corporate sustainability strategy aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals which is already implemented within our projects. Makers District is a perfect example in terms of design and operation. Our shading strategy for buildings and public areas will reduce the heat island effect and reduce energy consumption and increase outdoor thermal comfort. Our goal is to preserve and integrate the surrounding environment, landscapes and ecosystems into our developments, rather than disrupt them.
At IMKAN, we have created a diverse portfolio of projects; we have two flagship developments in the UAE; AlJurf – fully integrated second home destination along the Sahel Al Emarat (Riviera of the UAE) – and Makers District located on Reem Island which is home to the district’s first mixed-use development, Pixel. We also have Nudra, a luxury beachside community, and Sheikha Fatima Park, Abu Dhabi’s first urban park that seeks to enhance community interactions. In addition to these, we also have the Alburouj developments in Cairo and the Le Carrousel and Villa Diyafa projects in Morocco.
Technology and Innovation
We are dedicated to upholding the latest technological and innovational advancements across all our developments. In line with our placemaking theme, we apply state-of-the-art computational fluid analysis, to assess the thermal comfort within our developments and develop adequate mitigation measure and strategies. We support cross-sectoral innovation by merging technologies – for example, combining satellite remote sending and AI in order to reduce the water used in our developments, improve the project sustainability, and overall, contribute to the national sustainability strategy.
Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, CEO of Arada
Arada enjoyed a successful 2019, with the value of our sales rising by 33% against the previous year, while the number of units sold rose by 86%. This is an excellent performance during a difficult period for the property sector in the Middle East as a whole.
The launch of Nest at Aljada, the Middle East’s premier student housing complex, which was also the first time that investors were able to purchase directly into a real estate asset class here in the Gulf that is already well developed elsewhere produced excellent results for us. The handover of our first homes, in Nasma Residences in May, also helped spark even greater interest in our first project, which is now 95% sold out.
If 2019 was the year of sales, then 2020 is the year of delivery for Arada. At both of our project sites, we are working hard to complete key features of each community. For example, our focus right now is on putting the finishing touches to the first phase of Madar at Aljada, a new leisure and entertainment district for the UAE. Also at Aljada, we will also start the handover process for our first homes in the megaproject later this year. We will also start handing over homes in the last two phases of Nasma Residences, the community of almost 1,000 villas and townhouses in Al Tay.
Sustainable and Energy Efficient Projects
We see the issues of smart technology and sustainability has being entirely complementary. Smart city solutions tend to be sustainable by nature, and sustainable elements in our projects are often improved immeasurably through the addition of smart technology.
This is especially true when it comes to Aljada, where the size (24 million square feet) and the greenfield nature of the plot make this an ideal location to create a smart and sustainable city that can be a model for the rest of the region. Our own research, conducted before the launch of Aljada, showed us that there was clear and consistent interest in the concept of smart homes and smart communities. Among the merits that were shared with us included: time saving, better security and safety (especially for children); efficiency; lower costs; the opportunity to customise and the ability to be eco-friendly.
Sustainability and the use of smart technology form a major part of our vision; we take them seriously not only because it is good for the environment and for our customers, but because they are good for business too.
Nasma and Aljada Project
Launched in 2017, Nasma Residences became Sharjah’s fastest-selling real estate project when its first phase sold out in less than a month. Featuring almost 1,000 townhouses and villas spread over a 5 million square feet area, Nasma Residences is a fully comprehensive community, featuring two retail centres, three parks, a mosque and a GEMS international school. The first homes were handed over in May last year and we expect to hand over all houses during the course of this year.
With a sales value of AED24 billion, Aljada is Sharjah’s largest mixed-use project, and one of the most complex communities of this type anywhere in the Gulf. Featuring large residential components, as well as a large leisure and entertainment district designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, Aljada also contains a business park, three international schools, four hotels and a hospital. Construction began in 2018 and is expected to take a decade to complete.
Al Barakah Holding
Fouad Mashal, CEO of Al Barakah International Investment
Founded in 2006, Al Barakah Holding has been established initially upon the realization that building world-class projects requires constant innovation and development. Coupled with the commitment towards enhancing the economic growth of the United Arab Emirates, the company has achieved phenomenal success and growth by offering key solutions in multiple sectors, upholding long-term values for all of its integrated subsidiaries. We aim to pursue the vision of our forefathers by offering our commitment, dedication, expertise and experience in building the infrastructure and the overall progress of the UAE, whilst also working towards the Government of Abu Dhabi’s 2030 vision for the nation. The company has now established itself with a diverse portfolio of projects including high profile and pioneering residential cities, industrial housing, entertainment, medical services, and security services amongst many others.
Paralleling the UAE’s steep economic and infrastructural growth require the development of high-standard residential projects and thriving neighbourhoods, in accordance to the nation’s vision for 2030. We have partnered with globally renowned agencies from variant range of industries that enables us develop key projects such as Al Qana, Workers Village, Al Raha Village, and many other landmarks.
As I have always believed: Confidence in Conveying our Vision Success in the business world is achieved in the dexterity to deliver and maintain consistent development. Through years of combining the perfect blend of expertise, energy and skills, Al Barakah Holding has been able to consistently deliver and execute the goals set for itself. Maintaining this combination paves the way for future successes. We look towards the future with confidence in accomplishing more monumental achievements. This has always been our belief.
Al Qana is a unique waterfront social dining and entertainment destination. The development is one of the much-anticipated touristic landmarks in the capital featuring seven anchor destinations spanning over 2.4km of scenic and picturesque waterfront walkways. Al Qana will be divided in seven key districts. It will include state-of-the art facilities from waterside eateries, the world’s first Cinemacity CityMAX theatre, the Middle East’s largest aquarium, first-of-its-kind lifestyle hub including wellness facilities, first to the UAE VR+ e-sports gaming & academy park, kids’ playground zone, outdoor skate park, and landscaped community spaces that are aimed at encouraging social interaction.
FRANCIS ALFRED, MANAGING DIRECTOR & CEO OF SOBHA REALTY
Sobha Realty in 2019
In 2019, Sobha Realty witnessed phenomenal success, surpassing its total sales target of AED2 billion. During the year, we have successfully launched two projects, Creek Vistas Reserve and One Park Avenue, which gained positive traction from the market. We have also witnessed strong international interests, with the number of Chinese buyers growing by 100 per cent in Q1 2019 compared to Q1 2018.
Our outlook for 2020 is positive, as we anticipate strong resurgence in the real estate market, with an expected handover of 900 units. We are setting our sights on advancing Sobha Hartland, and all the projects within the master development, while maintaining the highest quality standards and timely project delivery.
Sustainable and Efficient Energy Projects
As we are making a conscious effort to support a cleaner, safer and smarter future, it is important that developers draft a clear roadmap which takes into account elements that promote sustainability across the project’s lifecycle.
At Sobha Realty we are committed to planning, constructing, and managing communities that conform to global sustainability guidelines. With this vision in mind, we implement innovative solutions in our projects to ensure the ultimate living experience for our residents. At Sobha Hartland, we have ensured the usage of only the most energy efficient and long-lasting light fixtures available in the market, which are LED fixtures. We also use advanced energy efficient VRF AC technology and customised safe and energy efficient solar hot water system. The development is distinguished by its serene vibe, with 30 per cent of the total land area set to encompass a dedicated green cover and open spaces with more than 8000 trees being planted in the development.
Sobha Realty is currently developing Sobha Hartland, which addresses the forecasted demand for luxury residential properties in Dubai – a market rapidly gaining a reputation for generating unmatched returns for investors.
Launched in 2014, Sobha Hartland is an eight million sq. ft luxury freehold master development situated in Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City, overlooking Downtown Dubai. Key projects within the community include Greens, Creek Vistas, Creek Vistas Reservé, Gardenia Villas, Garden Houses, One Park Avenue and Forest Villas. The community offers its residents the convenience of two international schools, as well as a selection of retail and F&B amenities, and a boardwalk along the canal.
Farhad Azizi, CEO of Azizi Developments
While 2019 was a difficult year for all developers, 81% of our 54 ongoing projects are sold as of Q3 2019. Prices are bottoming out, making it an excellent time to purchase property in the emirate. Our focus is now on delivering on our promises – the swift construction and completion of our immaculately designed projects, which are all in Dubai’s most strategic locations, is our top priority, and is what increases our top and bottom lines. With a high pre-sales figure, Azizi Developments is very profitable by merely delivering units – this is what we will focus on.
This year alone, in 2020, we are completing more than 15 buildings. We have approximately 12,000 units to deliver, a substantial chunk of which will be completed in 2020. We’ve already finalised Samia in January.
Expo 2020 Boom
To play our part in the preparations and onset of Expo 2020, we are developing a large concentration of projects with direct metro and highway access to the site, which will continue to be a vibrant hub of culture and leisure even after the event. Moreover, we will further build on our short-term home rental concept through which we manage and service our customers’ owned apartments for them, and may convert some of our properties into hotel units to cater to the surge in tourism. We are also sponsoring the Solar Decathlon Middle East, a competition hosted in the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in alignment with – and for the entire duration of – Expo 2020, through our sponsorship of Team Tawazun.
Riviera, a stylish waterfront-lifestyle destination located in the heart of Mohammed bin Rashid City, is planned to comprise 71 mid-rise buildings with over 16,000 residences that are conveniently located in the midst of all the business and leisure hubs of the city. Phase 1 of Riviera is now 55% complete. 95% of it is already sold out.
Mina is also host to a dedicated retail precinct, covered parking, and concierge service, while offering easy access to the Palm Monorail, Dubai Tram, and Dubai Metro, as well as to a variety of hotels and other retail and leisure attractions in its immediate vicinity. The 178-unit development, which comprises 120 one-bedroom apartments, 54 two-bedroom residences and four spacious penthouses spread across a total gross floor area of over 22,991 square metres, is due to be completed this year.
We have set foot in Al Furjan with our philosophy of ‘customers first’ in mind. We have already completed 13 projects in Al Furjan, with Samia being the most recent to be inaugurated in January 2020, and have another 4 developments to be finalised in this highly sought-after community this year, as well as another 2 projects to be completed in the coming years.
Technology and Innovation
We are committed to innovation and customer centricity, propelling our digital transformation journey further by implementing leading technologies. Notably, we have successfully implemented state-of-the-art Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and Business Analytics (BA) technologies, and are now looking at enablers like digital workplaces, advanced process optimisation, and radical digitalisation.
Being a digitally adept and tech-savvy enterprise, we put technological innovations at the forefront of our growth and have therefore placed an order for 10 of Tesla’s new Cybertrucks. We plan to use these to enhance our customers’ pre-sales experience by taking them on site visits in the innovate vehicles to our developments across Dubai’s prime locations. In line with our commitment to sustainability and environmental preservation, and in an effort to rely on clean and renewable energy, we plan to exclusively use electric vehicles (EVs) for our customer site visits. The Cybertruck is the latest announcement in the domain of EVs.
Faris Saeed, CEO of Diamond Developers
This year witnessed a multitude of social, environmental, and economic initiatives and programmes taking place at The Sustainable City, including the revealed Sanad Village, the world’s first and largest rehabilitation and education centre for People of Determination; and the launch of ‘BEDAYAT’ Business incubator supporting technologies, innovations, and ideas that contribute to social, environmental, and economic sustainability.
In 2020, the building of Sharjah Sustainable City will continue, and more sustainable cities will be announced in the region.
The company has accumulated a lot of knowledge around the topic of sustainability over the past ten years and has decided to share that knowledge with anyone that seeks it.
This led to hundreds of visits from government entities, corporate companies, and academic institutions.
Since sustainability is one of the subthemes of Expo 2020, we had many visits and held meetings with the expo team during the planning phase and are expecting more enquires and visits as trade missions and delegations start visiting Expo 2020.
Sustainable and Energy Efficient Projects
We are doing our part by explicitly building sustainable developments. We also created a blueprint and a guide for what future cities could look like.
We also proved that building sustainably is a successful business model that doesn’t incur added costs on developers or investors; it actually comes with a lot of savings. We hope other developers will follow suit and only work on sustainable projects.
Technology and Innovation
Diamond Developers is promoting the transferal of knowledge through its knowledge arm, SEE Institute that shares skills and expertise to support businesses, communities, and the wider world in their goal to operate sustainably. In doing so, they strive to bring growth and betterment to the region and the world.
Under the Living Lab programme, SEE Institute manages several, ongoing pilot projects. Working in collaboration with industry partners, The Sustainable City has become a destination for many emerging technologies and practices. These projects, whether related to food, energy, water, mobility or waste, can have a profound impact on the way we design future cities or retrofit existing ones.
Rahail Aslam, CEO of Select Group
2019 was a hugely successful year for Select Group. We are proud of completing and handing over three of our premium developments in Dubai Marina worth an approximate GDV of AED 2.5 billion.
- 9 Dubai Marina is a waterfront development located on the promenade and offers stunning Marina views. The 34-floor tower houses 220 apartments and offers residents a wide array of world class amenities.
- The Residences at Marina Gate II is the second tower that we have handed over in the iconic Marina Gate development. The tower features 535 residential units and is spread over 64 floors.
- Studio One is Select Group’s 14th development in in Dubai Marina. Spread over 31 floors and 400 residential units, it has a built-up area of almost 500,000 square feet.
With an expected 25 million visitors during Expo 2020, this will be an excellent opportunity for the real estate industry to showcase to the world that Dubai offers some compelling investment opportunities. As the opening date for the expo draws nearer, we will begin introducing some attractive campaigns to target the influx of visitors.
In line with the UAE government’s growing focus on sustainability and energy conservation, Select Group has progressively introduced measures to improve efficiency in all upcoming developments. Some of these focus on indoor environmental quality, decreased moisture penetration, recycling initiatives and sensor triggered systems to ensure significant savings for residents.
We are excited as Jumeirah Living Marina Gate nears completion in the next three to four months. This exceptional development features 104 serviced apartments, 389 private residences, 15 villas and has a gross development value of AED 1.6 billion with a BUA of 1,292,800 square feet.
As far as upcoming plans are concerned, significant landbank has been acquired for a mega new development in a prime waterfront location in Business Bay. Spread over 315,000 square meters, the masterplan for the mixed-use development, incorporates both high and low-rise residential, office, retail, leisure and hospitality use, interconnected by public open space and amenities which will create a strong sense of community across the neighbourhood. Extensive concept and design works are currently ongoing.
Technology and Innovation
Innovation and technology continue to drive our business. Whether it’s the use of robotics in the construction of our flagship Marina Gate development or the introduction of more streamlined purchase processes, Select Group remains focused on adopting all measures to deliver sustainable yet technologically advanced developments to home-owners.