Sweet dreams

Thanks to the unprecedented boom of the last few years, many developers have confused professionalism with giving an impression of vast, corporate indifference. However, one developer with its roots in Dubai but branching out into Ajman has retained the personal touch of its self-made CEO. Matt Warnock talks to Sweet Homes’ Fahad Sattar Dero.
Sweet dreams
By Matt Warnock
Mon 23 Feb 2009 04:00 AM

Thanks to the unprecedented boom of the last few years, many developers have confused professionalism with giving an impression of vast, corporate indifference. However, one developer with its roots in Dubai but branching out into Ajman has retained the personal touch of its self-made CEO. Matt Warnock talks to Sweet Homes' Fahad Sattar Dero.

What is your background in development and where did the inspiration for Sweet Homes come from?

Sweet Homes was born out of a single investment that involved the reselling of a building in International City. Now, I am very proud to say, we've already launched two developments worth AED 4.7 billion, with plans for a third project already in the pipeline.

The philosophy of Sweet Homes is to bring master-planned built spaces that will provide our customers with the ideal place to nurture their individual growth as well as that of their families.

I'm a driven person with an innate desire to achieve success and the extensive opportunities witin the UAE for a determined person, such as myself, have inspired me to pursue my ambitions here.

Which developments is Sweet Homes currently working on? Are they residential, commercial or mixed-use?

Currently, we have two projects, namely Ajman Uptown and Rainbow Towers. Ajman Uptown is a major new villa-based development located in the heart of New Ajman and next to the Emirates Road, which will comprise of 1504 villas and seven commercial and residential buildings.

The villas consist of two, three and four bedroom villas, which are named after flowers such as Acacia, Begonia, Camellia, Dahlia and Erica; they come with parking spaces and spacious gardens.

Our second project is Rainbow Towers, which is located in Emirates City and consists of around 72 residential and commercial projects.

It will encompass picturesque lakes and green parks, a shopping district, a mosque, five-star hotels, educational and medical facilities.

Does Sweet Homes have a particular ethos? How does it differ from other development companies?

In line with the adage ‘home sweet home', the philosophy of Sweet Homes is to bring master-planned built spaces that will provide our customers with the ideal place to nurture their individual growth, as well as that of their families.

Our commitment to the growth of our customers, as characterised by our dedication towards ensuring that they get the most out of their investment, sets us apart from other developers.

As a developer, how much of the overall project is Sweet Homes responsible for?

We are involved in all aspects of our projects' development - from conception to inception. This is especially true with Ajman Uptown, as we are also undertaking the construction works on this project.

We constantly seek to partner with reliable consultants in the design stage, as well as with highly experienced contractors for the building works on our projects. We also interact with municipalities and other government departments for the legal approvals and permits.

How do you decide on new regions or locations for developments and how do laws and regulations differ across the United Arab Emirates?

Prior to venturing into new projects, we take into consideration the political stability, economic environment, property laws, taxation - especially property tax and capital gain taxes - and rental yield in the new location.

Different Emirates offer different challenges due to laws and regulations that are unique to each of them. Ajman, for example, has more relaxed property laws and lenient regulatory control that favour developers compared with Dubai, where tight regulations are the order of the day.New laws and regulatory control is an implied necessity when a country opens up ownership of land and property to foreigners, especially if no such laws exist in the first place.

In addition, the formation of regulatory authorities is essential to implement and govern these laws and, therefore, create a secure environment for property investment in the country.

However, in my opinion, a unified nationwide property law addressing all issues across the whole UAE would be a real incentive.

The current situation in the UAE real estate market will mirror the correction in the property boom in Hong Kong and, similarly, it will take years to recover and return to stable grounds.

Have current financial conditions had an impact on Sweet Homes' projects?

We aren't experiencing any direct impact from the current financial conditions, mainly as we have minimum business with banks. Like all other developers, we are very cautious in making financial moves during the current financial crisis.

In line with this, we've made a decision to wait to announce a new project after weighing the economic fundamentals that would influence customers' buying decisions and the interplay of factors and variables within the property investment sector in the UAE.

Has Sweet Homes had to make any redundancies?

So far, we have not encountered the need to lay off any of our people due to the economic crisis. As I said earlier, we have very carefully planned our operations and, when you operate on a tangible plan, encounters with such eventualities are lessened on a great scale.

Do you expect the current situation to continue and what will the long-term effects be?

The economic crisis is certainly wreaking havoc through the once prosperous and tranquil global economy. The property sector is the worst affected and relief is not in near sight.

My opinion is that the current situation in the UAE real estate market will mirror the correction in the property boom in Hong Kong and, similarly, it will take years to recover and return to stable grounds.

Do you believe that developers have a responsibility to the wider community in which they develop?

The developer should play a greater role in regard to corporate social responsibility.

As a principled developer, we have been strengthening our efforts to uphold our moral responsibility towards the development of infrastructure while striking a balance between nature and our development so as to lessen the environmental impact and carbon footprint of our projects.

Would you invest in your developments with your own money?

All of our developments in themselves are my investments.

Which other developers and developments do you admire?

At Sweet Homes, we admire innovative developers who have pushed the envelope of change, such as Emaar and Nakheel. The Burj Dubai and Palm Jumeirah are also the developments that I personally hold in high regard.

What are Sweet Homes' ambitions for the future and is there a future for developers in the Middle East?

We are aiming to deliver the best of real estate developments, which means the most innovative and sustainable projects that provide outstanding investment returns to our clients.

There are endless opportunities in the Middle East, especially in the GCC region which is one of the main contenders in the global economic market.

I believe that intelligent building' is the future of the industry, and we are taking strides to be one of the first developers to implement this across our projects.

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