Yusuffali marks hat-trick victory in Abu Dhabi Chamber election

Updated 28 June 2014
0

Yusuffali marks hat-trick victory in Abu Dhabi Chamber election

Yusuffali M.A., head of Lulu group, Middle East’s retail major, and non-resident India (NRI) businessman, won the Abu Dhabi Chamber election held yesterday with a thumping majority.
Ali who won previous two elections, retained his seat with 1,721 votes, highest among expatriate candidates. The elections during which 14,555 votes were cast also elected 13 local citizens to the board of directors for a four-year term.
Four panels — the Abu Dhabi Initiative, Abu Dhabi Excellence, Abu Dhabi Future and Abu Dhabi First — representing 70 Emiratis, including five women and eight expatriate candidates, participated in the elections. Huge turnout was witnessed during the election which was held at three different centers.
Abu Dhabi Chamber is the only government organization in the world where expatriates can get elected to the director board through a democratic election process.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyam, UAE minister for culture, youth and community development, on behalf of Abu Dhabi government and ruling family members congratulated Ali on his hat-trick victory and urged him to continue his work and contribute to the growth of the UAE in general and Abu Dhabi in particular.
“I am pleased with faith reposed on me by the business community of Abu Dhabi and I thank them wholeheartedly for helping me to come out victorious once again. I am fully aware of the responsibilities and I will strive to further enhance the business and investment relationship between India and UAE and work closely with all stake holders for mutual benefit,” said Ali after winning.
Abu Dhabi Chamber is an autonomous entity under government supervision, which works toward streamlining and regulating business and industrial affairs in Abu Dhabi. Chamber is also playing its role as a supporter of and contributor to the economic development process and as an economic partner in making contributions to Abu Dhabi’s economic growth.
Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), currently estimated at $775 billion, is one of the world's wealthiest sovereign fund in terms of total asset value.


Dubai property developer Damac on hunt for land in Saudi Arabia

Hussain Sajwani
Updated 18 March 2019
0

Dubai property developer Damac on hunt for land in Saudi Arabia

  • Brexit a “concern” for UK property market says Sajwani
  • Developer mulls investing “up to £500 million” on London project

LONDON: The Dubai-listed developer Damac says it is scouting for additional plots of land in Saudi Arabia, both in established cities and the Kingdom’s emerging giga-projects such as Neom.
Hussain Sajwani, chairman of Damac Properties, also said the company would look to invest up to £500 million ($660 million) on a second development in the UK, and that it is on track to deliver a record 7,000 or more units this year.
Amid a slowing property market in Dubai, Damac’s base, the developer is eying Saudi Arabia as a potential ground for expansion for its high-spec residential projects.
Damac has one development in Jeddah, and a twin-tower project in Riyadh — and Sajwani said it is looking for additional plots in the Kingdom.
“It’s a big market. It is changing, it is opening up, so we see a potential there … We are looking,” he said.
“In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is the biggest economy … They have some very ambitious projects, like the Neom city and other large projects. We’re watching those and studying them very carefully.”
The $500 billion Neom project, which was announced in 2017, is set to be a huge economic zone with residential, commercial and tourist facilities on the Red Sea coast.
Sajwani said doing business in Saudi Arabia was “a bit more difficult or complicated” that the UAE, but said the country is opening up, citing moves to allow women to drive and reopen cinemas.
He was speaking to Arab News in Damac’s London sales office, opposite the Harrods department store in Knightsbridge. The office, kitted out in plush Versace furnishings, is selling units at Damac’s first development in the UK, the Damac Tower Nine Elms London.
The 50-storey development is in a new urban district south of the River Thames, which is also home to the US Embassy and the famous Battersea Power Station, which is being redeveloped as a residential and commercial property.
Work on Damac's tower is underway and is due to complete in late 2020 or early 2021, Sajwani said.
“We have sold more than 60 percent of the project,” he said. “It’s very mixed, we have (buyers) from the UK, from Asia, the Middle East.”
Damac’s first London project was launched in 2015, the year before the referendum on the UK exiting the EU — the result of which has had a knock-on effect on the London property market.
“Definitely Brexit has cause a lot of concern, people are not clear where the situation will go. Overall, the market has suffered because of Brexit,” Sajwani said.
“It’s going to be difficult for the coming two years at least … unless (the UK decides) to stay in the EU.”
Despite the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, Sajwani said Damac was looking for additional plots of land in London, both in the “golden triangle” — the pricey areas of Mayfair, Belgravia and Knightsbridge, which are popular with Gulf investors — and new residential districts like Nine Elms.
Sajwani is considering an investment of “up to £500 million” on a new project in the UK capital.
“We are looking aggressively, and spending a lot of time … finding other opportunities,” he said. “Our appetite for London is there.”
Damac is also considering other international property markets for expansion, including parts of Europe and North American cities like Toronto, Boston, New York and Miami, Sajwani said.
The international drive by Damac comes, however, amid a tough property market in the developer’s home market of Dubai.
Damac in February reported that its 2018 profits fell by nearly 60 percent, with its fourth-quarter profit tumbling by 87 percent, according to Reuters calculations.
Sajwani — whose company attracted headlines for its partnership with the Trump Organization for two golf courses in Dubai — does not see any immediate recovery in the emirate’s property market, or Damac’s financial results.
“(With) the market being soft, prices being under pressure, we are part of the market — we are not going to do better than last year,” he said. “This year and next year are going to be difficult years. But it’s a great opportunity for the buyers.”
But the developer said Dubai was “very strong fundamentally,” citing factors like its advanced infrastructure, safety and security, and low taxes.
In 2018, Damac delivered over 4,100 units — a record for the company — and this year, despite the difficult market, it plans to hand over even more.
“We’re expecting north of 7,000,” Sajwani said. “This year will be another record.”