Mercury Development started as a small logistics company in 2003. We entered the construction sector when we built camps, schools, hospitals, and other buildings for the Iraqi government. Then in 2008 we completed two development projects in Casablanca and built government facilities in Afghanistan in 2009.
Regulations for real estate developers are favorable, because the market doesn’t have a history of being unreliable. Established developers always deliver, which is the most important thing for a buyer.
The concept of a 400-500-sqm apartment is history. People want 150-200 sqm. Middle class market demand stands between $350,000 and $600,000, and the upper class market demand is between $800,000 and $1 million.
We are trying to develop a destination to generate a unique environment where people enjoy spending their time for eight or nine months out of the year. We have a mix of restaurants within reach of everyone’s taste.
WORKING WITH SOLIDERE
We have very good relations with the people at Solidere as they have a very good understanding of quality and, more than that, are patient. They want the final product to be special at the end of the day, and I really enjoy working with them.
THE UNIQUE TOUCH
It will be a fully serviced environment—with seven-star quality—so the individuals having apartments there will enjoy all the facilities. Our philosophy as developers is not to go as mainstream, but rather develop unique projects.
Approximately 70% of people are concentrated on the coast, especially in Beirut and the northern regions. This means that the amount of land available for development is decreasing over time. This makes the construction sector unique here, and redevelopment plays a larger role in the overall productivity of the sector.
The only increase in prices that worried the sector were land prices. There has been such a demand for land that prices have risen 10 fold. That is a big problem. While working on a large project, you must make sure that land has been purchased in advance in preparation for another project, otherwise there can be periods of down time in which there is nothing to do.
Expatriates often look to buy houses that they can stay in while back in the country on vacation, bringing their families. Due to the lack of a rent culture here, that means many residences remain empty over the winter months. For that reason, there is much demand for the construction of new houses.
ESCAPE TO PARADISE
There is a lot of construction and development being seen in the mountainous regions of the country, and these areas are mostly reserved for upmarket developments. Many people find Beirut too hot over the summer months, and thus like to escape to a second home.
ROOM TO INCREASE
Even in 2011 prices in Beirut are not as high as in surrounding countries. Beirut is a small place and still not as expensive as Istanbul. The market is not overpriced and we still have room for prices to go up.
SAFE FOR INVESTORS
Lebanon is a safe market for investors. The only trick you should learn is to go to a well-known developer. There are plenty of known developers who have a good reputation in Lebanon.
ROGER N. KARAM
We are definitely the biggest contractor in Lebanon with regard to universities. We started off with the Beirut Arab University (BAU). The first contracts that we won were infrastructure contracts. We ended up building the largest part of its campus, which is a 1.3-million sqm development and the biggest campus in Lebanon.
The business investment potential in Iraq is immense, and expanding into Iraq will surely be a new milestone for us as it will establish Qualco as a regional construction company.
I strongly believe that foreign companies show a tendency to move to Lebanon rather than any other country in the Middle East because of the quality of life and the cultural history that exist here. I think we are very complementary geographically, and within our competencies, I believe that Beirut has a role to play as an economic center for the region as long as we have political stability.
NAMIR N. CORTAS
We appreciate the importance of architectural design and urban planning, and of energy efficient sustainable building standards as we promise to improve the lives we touch. With quality construction and creative design, value can be added even without expensive finishing materials.
As we look forward to create another large project in the Beirut Waterfront, we are increasing our involvement in large projects outside Beirut. An essentially Lebanese developer with a soul and with a large project management capability, Estates hopes to cover needs in the Lebanese market at all levels, before exporting its activity to other regional markets.
District//s is a bold attempt to build a city within a city using contemporary architechtural solutions that preserve traditional features.
This is one of the best markets in the Middle East for all it has to offer, with its environment, services, and good investment potential. We have just launched many projects in Lebanon and a new project building a residential tower—one of the highest, a landmark in the heart of Beirut. Values are going up quickly, and potential is strong.
We hope that it will be faster and easier to get faster licenses in future so investors don’t have to wait too long for projects to be completed. The real estate and construction sector boosts employment, and therefore it is crucial to give foreign investors all that is necessary. I’d like to see a law to allow one party to keep a plot of land, and another to construct on it. This will ease fears that too much land is being bought by foreign firms.
Lebanon is a safe destination for investors. It is a healthy market, with a lot of social freedom. It is up to the individual to choose what he wants here—nothing is taboo. This is why the country is so attractive to investors.
© The Business Year