The comeback king

When Kabir Mulchandani told the world that off-plan sales would be back in Dubai, nobody believed him. Two years later he is having the last laugh

From left to right: Nadia Zaal, Kabir Mulchandani, Nabil Akiki, Aloki Batra.

From left to right: Nadia Zaal, Kabir Mulchandani, Nabil Akiki, Aloki Batra.

Indian business tycoon Kabir Mulchandani is the ultimate Dubai comeback kid. Arrested in 2009 on accusations of real estate fraud, he was eventually cleared of all charges by a Dubai court in December 2010 and despite the Dubai property market being on its knees, he set up a new property venture, SKA1. He claimed he was going to come back bigger and better and strike some major multi-billion-dollar deals.

“Two years you asked me how I could come back after the damage to my reputation,” he says recalling the last time he stood in Arabian Business’ photography studio for his comeback cover issue in 2011.

“Here is the answer,” he says, pointing to the lavish plans for his new $1bn Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah project, which will have 481 hotel rooms and suites, 221 apartments, ten top-notch restaurants and a prime location as plot number one on the iconic manmade island.

“It has been tough. It hasn’t been a walk in the park, but if you believe in what you are doing and do good things, people will see it. At the end of the day, I have always been completely transparent. I open the books and show people all the legal documents and people like that approach.”

From languishing in a Dubai jail to launching a new property company in the midst of the real estate downturn, Mulchandani is now one of a host of private developers back riding the latest Dubai property wave, which has seen more than a dozen megaprojects announced in the space of a couple of months. His new project arguably makes him the hottest ticket in town. But is the new property bubble about to go bust soon? Mulchandani certainly isn’t worried and says it’s a good thing Dubai is back thinking big and dreaming even bigger.

“When you think big you are bound to have a few projects that aren’t that great. When you expand and grow it is not every time you are going to have a mega winner. As long as no third-party funds are lost I don’t see any problem with that.

“I am glad the government thinks big, as opposed to others thinking small and taxing people to death. It is good to be part of a system where the government thinks big, it inspires us to think big. Any big thinker knows that if you think big you are going to make mistakes.

“Let’s say the government announces ten megaprojects and they do eight and they shelve two: as long as nobody has lost any money on them, that’s fine. Don’t risk other people’s money. That is not happening now, and that is the fundamental difference.”

Mulchandani is certainly thinking big and not afraid to take risks in order to achieve what he wants - something that was obvious in the early stages of his latest megaproject on the Palm.

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Posted by: ben

A cursory search on any search engine by typing his name would reveal a glut of unsatisfied customers and a checkered past in India.
It would be interesting to keep Anil's article praising his business foresight and looking back in a few years to see if its another disaster in the making and watch AB's 360 turnaround and criticism of him!

Posted by: Abu James

Doing some basic math this does not show a very good investment (for property buyers). Lets say a one night in a standard room is 1000 Dhs (of which 40% goes back to the hotel operator) and the hotel occupancy rate is 75%. This means in one year the investor will get 1000 X 365 X 0.75 X 0.6 = 164,250 Dhs per year. At 1.65 M Dhs per unit, the rate of return is (excluding interest and inflation rates) = 10 years. And this excludes all the Dubai municipality and other taxes and fees. I am sure there are better business prospects !!!

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