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Sat 15 Sep 2018 05:13 PM

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Dubai real estate fundamentals strong in cyclical market, says MAF exec

Majid Al Futtaim Communities CEO not worried by Dubai property slowdown

Dubai real estate fundamentals strong in cyclical market, says MAF exec
Hawazen Esber, CEO of MAF Communities Esber

The real estate fundamentals in Dubai are strong, despite a downturn in prices over recent years, says Hawazen Esber, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Communities.

The real estate division of mall giant Majid Al Futtaim recently completed the infrastructure and land-forming work on its $3.8bn Tilal Al Ghaf mixed-use development in Dubai, which will take ten years to fully complete.

It has three other major projects underway, in Muscat, Sharjah and Beirut, and recently announced plans to create an entire new downtown area in Muscat, Oman, in a $13bn, 20 year venture project.

Hawazen Esber, CEO of MAF Communities Esber told Arabian Business: “Our projects take ten or 15 years to complete so we cannot look at the economy from a short term perspective.

"The market is cyclical and real estate is as cyclical as it gets, and we know how to deal with this. When the market is softer this is the time to acquire land and prepare for when the market picks up.”

Esber listed the “strong fundamentals” of the UAE’s infrastructure, business competitiveness and favourable geopolitical circumstances compared with much of the region.

“The government has always been very creative about boosting our appeal to newer markets such as China. And they are not stopping in seeking opportunities to remain competitive and open for business.”

He added that the proof of MAF Communities’ success with Tilal al Ghaf and its other three current projects is that more than 50 percent of the buyers are end users. “And then the investors are either the end-users re-investing, or end-users telling their families and friends. And that’s because we keep improving on the services after handover.”

Majid Al Futtaim Communities projects

Tilal Al Ghaf

100 percent owned by MAF Communities, Tilal Al Ghaf is located at the intersection of Hessa Street and Sheikh Zayed Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan Street, near Dubai Sports City.

The mixed-use 355,000 sq-m project will feature a series of interconnected green parks with 11km of cycling and walking trails and 18km pedestrian trail. The centrepiece is a 70,000 sq-m Crystal Lagoon that will be used for swimming and water sports.

Infrastructure and land-forming work has been concluded, with a show village and “some community amenities” slated for completion this year.

Waterfront City, Lebanon

Overlooking the Mediterranean, the marina-front community will have 2,000 homes, shops, dining options, entertainment offerings, health clubs and green parks along with a business park and leading hotel brands.

“We’ve handed over 500 or 600 apartments,” said Esber. “The USPs in Lebanon are second to none in terms of the weather, services, tourism and, hospitality and we're heavily invested in Beirut with shopping malls and Waterfront City. Yes, this whole region is more difficult than, for example, Europe, but that's what brings greater opportunities. You have to accept some level of uncertainty.”

Al Zahia, Sharjah

The master-planned community spans 1,000,000 sqm and features high-quality villas, town houses and apartments.

A joint venture between Majid Al Futtaim Properties and Sharjah Asset Management Holding, Al Zahia is being designed around themed parks and multipurpose areas, with regular activities such as outdoor cinema nights, an organic market and celebrity activations.

The community is currently home to between 600 and 800 families and will be completed by 2022.

Al Mouj, Oman

Spread along six kilometre of coastline, residential properties are interspersed with green spaces, walkways and inland waterways, retail and dining facilities, a 400-berth marina, and Oman’s only PGA Standard golf course, designed by Greg Norman.

It will also have hotels and 120 retail stores. Over 2,300 homes will have been handed over by the end of 2018.

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