VITALITY AND VISION

Abu Dhabi 2019 | URBAN PLANNING, REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Walid El Hindi, CEO of IMKAN, on spearheading innovation in the real estate industry.

 Walid El Hindi
BIOGRAPHY
Walid El Hindi is the CEO of IMKAN. In addition, he holds the position of CEO for Capital Group Properties in Egypt. Prior to joining the group, he served as Chief Development Officer for Emaar in Egypt. Between 2002 and 2008 he taught architecture as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated with a bachelor’s in architecture.

Can you walk us through the concept behind IMKAN and its position within the real estate market?

We are young company fueled by a visionary board with excellent long-term strategies, revolving around the belief that the real estate business needed a completely different perspective. Over the last 10-15 years, the industry has not been going through major changes. Prior to this, there was an incredible period of development that marked the creation of a new era in the real estate development sector. This success was based on an old formula that continued to work for quite some time because industry was experiencing a boom. The success of the previous formula has kept business from advancing and expanding, and we believe that it's now time for a new model for our client base.

What role does research play in the development of IMKAN, and in what way does it seek to redefine the real estate industry?

Our development team continues to be extremely critical to our operations, while our research platform is one of the key components of what separates us from our competitors. One area of focus is technology, and we have really empowered our young tech research associates to develop the best and most effective technologies with a fresh perspective. Another area of focus is design, through which we research areas that give us a vital edge. We have a team dedicated to researching new and unconventional design spaces like food and fashion. We also employ science research associates that carry out research on sociology, psychology, physics, and other areas related to human behavior. The last area of focus is economics. This part of the team focuses on data analysis and economic trends. One of the examples is that they carry out research on crypto-currency and blockchain, developing ideas and strategies for incorporating this type of technology.

How are all these research departments organized, and how do you ensure cohesion among them?

These core areas of research all have their own teams. We are extremely collaborative and work to ensure that all of the relevant information is shared and considered in every discipline. Additionally, we utilize an ever-changing pool of student interns, from some of the top institutions both regionally and globally. These students add vitality and vision to these various areas, allowing us to stay on top of all regional and global trends. Each area of focus has created a set of filters that define and direct the projects we work on. This has meant that our developments progress slowly, as projects take 18 months to develop; however, this deliberate speed is exceedingly important to be able to create something that will not only succeed in a financial sense, but also change the entire industry.

Can you walk us through some specific examples on how this large research effort translates into an original approach impacting the urban space?

So far, our research arm has looked into a vast array of different components. According to our research, people use their cars only 4% of the time, a fact that has led to a decrease in car purchases. Autonomous vehicle technology is going to change the automotive landscape with several implications. Driverless cars can be put to work as part of the shared economy, constantly moving and reducing overall demand for cars and parking. This leads to another consideration we obtained through our research: parking structures are beginning to lose money; Los Angeles, for example, has enough parking lot space to cover four San Francisco. Thus, we are implementing flexibility into our design projects to remain relevant and vital in years to come; the Artery, our hybrid parking garage and events space is a testament to that. It is being developed to accommodate our parking needs now, while taking into account our future needs. Starting next year, our project in East Cairo, Alburouj will come online with Phase 1 being handed over in 2Q2019. The ultimate goal is still to positively impact the mentality of the consumer and real estate sector.