British real estate developer Safi Qurashi has vowed to rebuild his property empire in Dubai despite serving almost three years in jail.
In his first face to face interview since being released on bail the London-born developer told Arabian Business TV he still believes in Dubai’s vision and that it would be “crazy” not to take advantage of depressed real estate prices.
“I love Dubai and I always have done. Even with the experience I have gone through… I don’t think you can blame a whole nation or city for an incident, or that you would abandon and desert a city for that.
“I think you can learn from experiences and I have learned from mine. To get up and leave [Dubai] would be like running away and that’s not in my nature to do that, I couldn’t do that.
“I still very much believe in Dubai and its vision going forward. I have been part of it for the last eight years and I just feel that I can’t abandon it even though I’ve gone through what I’ve gone through,” he said.
Qurashi, who famously paid US$60m for the Great Britain island on Nakheel’s World Island development, was last month released on bail after spending two and half years in jail for bouncing cheques.
He protested his innocence during a seven week hunger strike, which only ended when his case was reviewed by Dubai Attorney General. Dubai Cassation Court in July cleared Qurashi of two counts of cheque fraud after hearing that he had written them as security and they should have been returned rather than cashed.
The London-born developer, who moved to Dubai in 2004, said his company had been forced to close its real estate brokerage arm during his time in jail but had continued its develop property in the emirate.
Qurashi said he is currently in the process of getting his former team back together in a bid to restart his business. “We have land and we have to do something with it; we cannot just leave it there.”
“It would be crazy from a business point of view to know that we have gone past the worst, know that we could be in a position to benefit from the upside now and to walk away from it. That’s one of the reasons that I will do my best to stay here [and] develop what we can,” he added.