REAL ESTATE

Abu Dhabi 2017 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jasim Al Ali, CEO of First Gulf Properties (FGP), on the new Property Law, product portfolio, and expectations for the year end.

Jasim Al Ali
BIOGRAPHY
Jasim Al Ali is the CEO of First Gulf Properties (FGP).

How would you evaluate the impact of the recently implemented Property Law in Abu Dhabi and how does it reflect on your daily activities?

Business planning and decision-making are based on analysis, information, and intuition. The impact of the new regulations is that we have started to see more analysis for future business growth, therefore creating a win-win situation for the authorities, the regulator, and us. Today, we have the information we require about the number of people renting, what types of products are available, and so forth. It is a healthy environment for new businesses looking to establish themselves here, and for continuity and growth. At a personal level, I felt the market needed this new legislation in order to analyze and have a necessary breakdown of information about the sector.

How would you describe your portfolio mix between high, middle, and lower-end real estate?

The inherent flexibility that characterizes FGP allows us to cover all the different segments of the market, especially in Abu Dhabi and we have high, middle, and low-cost properties. In 2016, there was a significant drop in demand for high-end properties because tenants started to become more cost conscious and because this is an internally driven market. We leveraged our portfolio in light of market conditions; for example, if a tenant has been living in one of our high-end properties, we can offer them alternative accommodation in the middle rental bracket. We have thus been able to maintain our high occupancy rates and there has been no significant impact on us from changes in the market.

What do you foresee for FGP's performance in 2017?

In 2017, there will be a merger that will yield huge opportunities for First Gulf Properties and our partner in terms of synergies. After the merger enters into effect in April 2017, we will become a market giant. We are looking forward to being able to leverage on our existing services and collaborations between both real estate arms and so forth. We already have activity with Reem Island, developing projects with over a couple of billion in investment. Abu Dhabi is unique in terms of its real estate demand and supply model as there is no volatility due to the regularized market. We are focused on build-to-lease at the moment and we will continue on this path during 2017.