Imran Shaikh, chief executive officer, Shaikh Holdings, talks to Construction Week at the launch of the Sanctuary Falls project at Jumeirah Golf Estates, and explains how an increase in foreign investment is imperative for the city and region to strengthen its position in the international market.
You announced recently that you'll be investing $1.2 billion over the next five years in golf and waterfront developments. Where is the money coming from?
We are a privately-owned family company, so there is a component of that in those projects. As in our past projects and those we have planned, we are planning to use a variety of different financial structures over the next five years.
And why are you targeting golf and water specifically?
As a development company we strongly believe in ‘lifestyle community'. And golf and water were the two elements that were in line with our strategy for development in the UAE. We have been an institutional investor in the UAE real estate market since 2002, in projects such as the Palm Jumeirah, Business Bay, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai Waterfront and so forth. So we feel that is a niche that we understand, and rather than trying to do everything under the sun, we feel those two areas work best - primarily because they are representative of lifestyle communities.
Shaikh Holdings began in Bahrain in 1913 and diversified from a trading company into real estate. What made you decide to enter the real estate market?
Obviously, we do have the entrepreneurial heritage that goes back to Bahrain. But what happened is, in 2002 the market was just starting off here. At the time, I was based in Canada, and we were looking for opportunities here, so I began investigating Dubai.
You spoke recently on how Dubai needs to increase the sum of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the future. How do you expect this to happen and what do you recommend?
With respect to the FDI situation, the UAE and the region has had success in terms of regional investment, but I think that to be able to achieve sustainable growth in the future, FDI definitely is required. And I think with some of the discussions currently taking place, in terms of relaxing rules and regulations for companies, more transparency in terms of the financial laws and real estate laws in this market, there is more clarity and more transparency in the market. And I think you will see more institutional investors, and greater amounts of FDI coming in, not just in the UAE, but the region. So I think that is important.
Have you signed a contract for the construction of Sanctuary Falls?
We are currently in final discussions with a contractor and we hope to shortly be making an announcement. I cannot comment on the value of the contract, but we hope to announce this within 60 days.For all the latest construction news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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