The Business Year

Georges Zard Abou Jaoudeh

CEO & Owner, GZA Group

Carlos Chad

Managing Director, Demco Properties

Demco Properties and GZA Group are real estate companies dedicated to sustainability. They have taken an active role in the building and rebuilding of Lebanon.

How did you get to where you are today?

GEORGES ZARD ABOU JAOUDEH As an architect, real estate has always been my main business interest. With GZA Group, we have developed a number of projects across Lebanon’s coast, in the mountains, and in Beirut. I am currently involved in over 30 cutting-edge residential, commercial, and mixed-use developments and resorts. All our projects are iconic, with many of them winning international architectural awards. To name a few, the Wave in Ashrafieh won the Architizer A+ Awards in 2017 for mid-rise building, and the Calypso House by the sea in Jounieh Bay is the winner of the Residential category in the World Architecture and Design Awards 2019. Unlike previous projects I developed in Saudi Arabia, which targeted extremely high-end clients, we have adapted our activities in Lebanon to meet the needs of all individuals, and what they all have in common is their key locations and artistic yet functional approach to design.

CARLOS CHAD Demco Properties is part of Demco Group, a holding company that includes Demco Steel, the biggest steel trader and importer in the country, with 80 to 90% of market share. DEMCO started investing in real estate between 2008 and 2010, as the market became exciting. Since then, Demco Properties has built more than 1,050 residential units, 70% of which have already been sold. We currently have three ongoing projects: Red Rock, in the mountains; a mixed-use residential and office tower in Antelias; and mixed-use residential, retail, and office development in Beirut. Our products range from USD99,000 up to USD15 million; therefore, we have a large range of offerings and can accommodate any kind of budget. Very few companies can cover such budgets, and this sets us apart. This is why we are A++ rated.

How does the company engage in corporate social responsibility?

GZAJ We always make a point of giving back to the community, which has enabled our growth and helped foster our achievements. That is why, for more than 30 years, we have invested our resources in several socially responsible programs whose purposes are to contribute to improving Lebanese society, from working closely with social and environmental NGOs and supporting orphanage centers to providing university grants. We have granted numerous scholarships and are pleased to play a role in supporting the most brilliant minds in the country. Following the 2006 Lebanese-Israeli war, we participated in the demining of the southern regions of Lebanon in collaboration with the UN. Moreover, deforestation is a major issue that I really worry about, which is why our philosophy is always to build in harmony with nature. At Beitmisk, for example, we have already planted over 200,000 trees, and our aim is to continue building a greener Lebanon.

What measures should be undertaken by the government?

CC The Ministry of Finance should put in place a strategy for the coming years so that a clear route can be set for construction, regulations, and selection of the upcoming projects. Lebanon is a small country without much space to build. Today in Lebanon, there is a need for 10,000 apartments per year. But that is dedicated to local clientele. Local clientele have declining purchase power, and can only afford USD250,000 to USD300,000 for a new house, maximum. While there is much talk about an oversupply of luxury apartments, in fact there is no oversupply, when you consider the limitations of the market and the consumer. If the government wants to salvage what remains of the real estate industry, it should regulate the sector, allocating certain areas to be built in the future to provide for the current population. The ones who want to build in Beirut should pay more and take a bigger risk. It is important that the solution to problems of Lebanese real estate comes from within the country, catering to Lebanese consumers.



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