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Sun 21 Jan 2007 12:00 AM

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Watch towers

With precision engineering and minute attention to detail at the top of its agenda, Trident International Holdings has become known as one of the top luxury property developers in the region. James Bennett meets CEO Wazir Daredia to talk towers, timepieces and technology.

It’s not often you bump into a chief executive who is as interested in luxury Swiss timepieces as he is in state-of-the art residential towers, but there are more similarities between the two than you might think.

“We’ve been in the watch business for the last 30 years and for us a tolerance of 0.1mm is as relevant to watches as it is to towers,” says Wazir Daredia, executive director and CEO of Trident International Holdings (TIH), extending his arm to reveal the thinnest gold Appella watch on the market, and sitting behind an artist’s impression of one of TIH’s luxury apartment blocks.

According to the Indian head of TIH, a resident of Dubai for the past 30 years, minute attention to detail and assessing all the finer points of a product are the key to the business’s ability to diversify from high precision watches to high-tech towers. “We are not in the business of rolling out tower after tower, we are not mass producers, we are a boutique developer.” The proof comes as TIH plans to unveil its latest designs for a fifth tower in the four years it has been on the Dubai property scene early next month with the CEO suggesting the project will be a “completely different evolution to luxury living”. Four properties, however, may not sound like a great deal.

“We would rather do one tower a year very diligently," counters Daredia. “We work with detailed space plans and detailed living spaces. Some of the competitors, I won’t say who, have issued ghost buildings.

The building is just a white form of a building and I positively think customers who spend their hard earned money deserve more than that.”

“Some sell buildings that are just an illustration but no elevation, no real plans, no utilities, no technical details on it, and they sell. You can buy a room of 40 metres and then suddenly find out there is a column in the middle. These things are just sold by plans, you don’t know what you’re buying.”

He adds that when his customers buy a Trident property they know exactly all the engineering, plumbing, and detailing “inch by inch and centimetre by centimetre” so that they don’t get a shock. “We do exact detailing and exact real-time perspectives and measurements so when you walk in you get what you expected in the first place. In an increasingly mature market that is going to be the way forward,” he says.

The company describes itself as a “diversified business group with multiple business interests” and after over 30 years in horology after buying Montres Appella, decided to branch out into real estate as soon as the UAE’s freehold laws were liberalised in 2002. And Wazir and his team haven’t looked back since.

“We thought since we were already producing high-end consumer products then that’s what our speciality is and that there was a very high level of transparency and the market took to us very well.

Once we delivered our first tower, and the premiums are almost 100%, the industry took us very seriously. I met some of the top officials of Emaar and others and they were complementing us on what we have done.”

The Dubai Marina, the “first completely mature masterplan community”, according to Daredia, has been Trident’s home for all its properties to date and will be for some time, thanks to prices per square foot remaining undervalued, explains the TIH chief executive. Why venture elsewhere if one area is doing so well for us?” he says correctly.

“I’m keen to expand elsewhere, however Dubai still has plenty to offer the market and my conviction is that the marina is still very strong. Compare it to any other cosmopolitan city around the region with only 50% of the infrastructure we have in Dubai. Add to that the security and business environments we have and there is nothing else to compare,” he says.

“Give me one city in the world that offers Dubai’s calibre or its infrastructure or where you get a waterfront property for US$300 a square foot and five-star class. All our properties are comparable to some of the five-star hotels around the world. We use marble, the best of the equipment and materials, and use the same interior designers as the Grand Hyatt and Four Seasons hotels.”

Daredia counters constant warnings of a potential real estate crash and says Trident’s existing and future properties, as well as those of its competitors, are transforming Dubai and the UAE into a mature marketplace — and that is exactly what the market needs. Prices might be rising, he says, but more importantly the Emirates is now recognised as one of the leading countries in real estate.

Trident’s towers, including the Waterfront, Marinascape, Bayside residence and Trident Grand Residence are all based on luxury and specifically hi-tech, state-of-the-art living. They may not be the cheapest on the market, admits Daredia frankly, but they offer “more than anything else on the market and with no hidden costs”.

With a lack of transparency a major issue in some sectors of the market, it is reassuring to see a company dealing so openly with its customers. “Our policy is that we don’t charge for anything extra. A developer can be cheaper but charge US$13,000 for parking — if you take that into consideration things can get very expensive. We charge slightly more — an absolute additional cost that we bear and the margin can be the same as any other developer — but you don’t want to charge for a smart home, then give a wire to a customer and say it is smart home technology. Everything we say is included, we give to a customer. All our buildings are one price with no added costs.”

The Waterfront is now 100% occupied, according to Daredia. But it is not just filling a property that matters, it is being able to deliver the best in the market to the customer that counts — an area the CEO says leads to the Civil Defence Authority classifying the property as one of the smartest and safest buildings in Dubai. High-tech features include a central computerised system, or as Daredia calls it “live real-time connectivity”, that is able to monitor every aspect of the property including its sprinklers in case of a fire. It even has a system that is able to alert the personnel on duty if one of the Waterfront’s residents has had a cardiac arrest. “This is so people feel comfortable and providing the facilities and the uniqueness of the building. This is all part of the gameplan,” he adds.

Making his clients and his employees feel comfortable and happy with the end product, and the company they work for, is top of Daredia’s agenda. “The market is tough, and two years down the line only the fittest will survive. We want to develop our resources now, once the market is easy, so that once it gets tougher we will have a definite edge.”

This competitiveness is in contrast to one of Daredia’s crowning achievements — the launch of Trident’s dedicated Corporate Social Responsibility wing. Its first initiative was to reward his own people, the workmen behind the Waterfront tower. “While architects and designers give shape to a project, all plans ultimately rest in the hands of the on-ground workmen who work tirelessly towards an inch-by-inch completion of that developer’s dream. They are the real heroes behind the scenes and it's about time that they get acknowledged for their significant contributions.”

Which, again, just goes to show how close attention to detail — not to mention assessing all the finer points of a product — can bring significant and long-term success.

Smart homes for smart customers

What is it?

The Waterfront, a boutique 20-storey ‘super-luxury’ residential tower in Dubai Marina.

What’s so special about it?

All 71 residential units boast spectacular views of the marina. More importantly, through this project, Trident has introduced the pioneering residential concepts of ‘smart homes’ and ‘sky villas’ for the first time in the Middle East. The Waterfront has also set new standards in domestic safety and is the first residential tower in the Middle East to install two technologically advanced safety systems — ‘Zone Check Water Tester’ and ‘HeartStart Defibrillators’ — to enhance living standards of its residents.

What’s a smart home?

According to Trident smart homes are equipped with state-of-the-art ‘home automation systems’ for “comfortable lifestyle management, combined with elegance, simplicity, intelligence, flexibility and security”. ‘Virtual parenting’, for example, will allow all the residents to access web cameras to check on their children. In case of any power outages, fire or smoke, the smart home is also programmed to send SMS alerts to mobile phones.

What are the apartments like?

Apart from condominiums, there are six spacious duplex villas located on the ground floor of the tower, each with its own private garden. Also included are two penthouses which have their own temperature controlled private swimming pools and gymnasiums, and an internal private panoramic lift.

Any extras?

The Waterfront includes an impressive list of private amenities including a fully equipped gym, a temperature controlled swimming pool, an aerobics and treatment room, and a multi-purpose hall for special occasions as well as a play area, and daycare and hobby centre for children.

What other properties does Trident have?

TIH has launched four luxury freehold projects all located in the Dubai Marina. The twin tower Marinascape comprises of two grand residential towers. Bayside Residence has 22 floors, while Trident Grand Residence is the latest 45-storey project with 253 magnificent condominiums and luxury penthouses.

"We want to develop our resources now, once the market is easy, so that once it gets tougher we will have a definite edge"

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