RIYADH: A Saudi businesswoman is helping lead the way in shaping the future of the Kingdom’s real estate sector — with royal backing.
Mashael bin Saedan’s company, Al-Saedan for Development, was one of three private firms approved by King Salman in 2019 to be part of the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program.
She said: “I was the only woman present at the launch ceremony, whose factory was not only approved by King Salman but I had the honor of meeting him.”
Since then, her real estate development group has gone from strength to strength with its focus on digital and technical industrial transformation of the sector.
And last year, the ambitious business owner partnered with Japan-based Aizawa High-Pressure Concrete Co., Ltd. to produce and construct pre-stressed concrete structural components in the Riyadh metropolitan area.
The two companies tested a model of the component that yielded positive results.
“The model that we tested was not based on new technology … it is only used for the construction of bridges and such. What we wanted to achieve was to use this technology for the construction of houses.
“The US tried to test the model but failed. What we did through our partnership with Japan was develop the same technology with Saudi resources, keep the good quality, and lower production costs,” Saedan added.
She noted that the Japanese government had been supportive of the partnership and said she was “very grateful for their help.”
Her introduction to the real estate sector began when she was just six years old. Saedan’s family has been involved in land development projects in Riyadh since 1934 and can include Saudi Arabia’s first high-rise building, the Elegance Tower, in its portfolio of properties.
Part of the third generation of the real estate family, Saedan as a child accompanied her father wherever he went.
She said: “I saw the effects of the real estate market on citizens, and on my family. My family had a tradition where in every signed real estate deal, everyone in my family would get an equal share from the deal, regardless of your age or whether you worked on the deal or not.”
When she turned 12, Saedan began asking questions about the lack of female involvement in the sector in the Kingdom.
“I kept asking this question in every family gathering we had. When I turned 18, my father called me to his office and asked me to draft a business strategy involving and targeting women to invest in the real estate sector,” she added.
Keen to transform the sector in her country, Saedan’s business strategy included targeting Saudi teachers in public schools during break times to enlighten women on the Kingdom’s real estate sector and help them invest in the market.
She struck her first investment deal with three Saudi public-school teachers, who remain in contact with her.
During the boom in the real estate market between 2007 and 2009, she was undecided whether to cash in on the opportunity or continue her education.
Saedan wanted to expand her ideas internationally and be a prominent figure in the industry on a global stage. So, she opted to pursue a master’s degree in an English-speaking country.
She said: “I decided that if I were to enter the international market of real estate, I needed to learn English.”
After gaining a master’s degree in business finance and economics from the University of Sheffield, in England, she received a job offer from an international bank based in the UK. But she turned down the opportunity in order to return to Saudi Arabia and be a force for change in the Kingdom’s real estate sector.
One of her ambitions was to educate Saudi youth and involve them in the sector, to which end she taught finance courses at Dar Al-Uloom University.
“I would start every lecture by reminding students that they were not only representing their family, but the Kingdom, Arabs, and Muslims worldwide.
“People change by having a role model, so after two-and-a-half months, I resigned and decided to open my own company and be the change I want to see in people,” Saedan added.