The Business Year

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Ali Al Rahma

CEO, Eqarat

We provide a complete cycle of services for investors, whether designed for development or management. Investors come to the market with a pitch for land, and we find the land that suits their development plan. When they decide to develop, we find the best architects in the market and accompany the architects with our engineering team, which monitors every stage of the project until completion. The moment the building is ready, our management teams oversee the lease or sale of the building. Our services have not changed dramatically; we have only refined our processes and become more efficient. Some areas will require attention in the future. For example, we have to invest in facility management and improve our services to tenants. We are offering high-class facility management to tenants and landlords, which has evolved and improved compared to the early days of the company. On the residential side, investors can now purchase property for 50% less than in 2007 or 2008. Rental prices have fallen, which means that the value of a property will eventually decrease. We have experienced a drop of 40%-50% in rent, which reflects the value of a property—now is the time for investment. On the commercial side, there are great deals on the table where investors can secure a steady income increase of 8%-10%. A number of deals are locked with lengthy lease contracts, which are good for new investors.

MOHAMED AHMED YAHYA

Senior Director of Commercial & Owners Association Management, wasl Properties

wasl Properties was established to act as a property manager, and it specializes in management services. This model has been successful over the past four years and is starting to set a benchmark in the market. Overall, the wasl brand is now set as a benchmark against which other service levels are being measured. We have a fairly large and diverse portfolio of commercial and residential properties under our management. We focus more on mid- and low-rise properties, as opposed to high-rise, and we also offer villas and townhouses. There are around 1,000 villas in our portfolio, in addition to 25,000 units distributed between low- and mid-rise housing units. We also have a large portfolio of industrial lands that we rent out to investors on a long-term lease basis. Furthermore, we are moving toward managing freehold properties with our owners association management services. Finally, hospitality comprises a big segment of our portfolio. There is no doubt that there has been a reduction in the level of development in the last three years. However, we at wasl have been doing well since we offer a high level of services. The crisis has witnessed some owners reducing the level of services. Some owners even reduced maintenance of their properties. Yet, the market is witnessing a strong recovery, with increased levels of real estate transactions in the freehold market.

TARIQ CHAUHAN

Group Managing Director, TARIQ CHAUHAN

The facility management (FM) industry in the Middle East is still underdeveloped, and the business is still in its nascent stage in the region—here the service delivery is largely in a reactive mode. There is a serious skill set issue within the work force industry; we also have an issue with the lack of understanding of the concept of facility management. We operate with different set of enterprises, some only have a reactive approach—they only call us when there is a problem and have zero vision of preventive planned maintenance. Then there are companies that take serious note of FM, adhering to the planned preventive regime. Thus, there are two environments in which we operate: reactive and preventive. For this part of the world, FM is very new, and another challenge is finding a skilled work force at different levels of management. Generally, when buildings are designed, developers must incorporate and integrate FM. Architects create utopian structures for which it is virtually impossible to build efficient FM models thus impacting the service delivery or resulting in higher FM costs. For example, often in context to façade cleaning in certain skyscrapers, due to the complicated designs and structure, the delivery becomes complex and costly too, therefore FM-friendly designs ensure lower maintenance costs, and therefore boost investment returns and reduce operating costs.

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