SETTING STANDARDS

Dubai 2018 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hussain Sajwani, Founder & Chairman of DAMAC Properties, on AKOYA Oxygen Project, its growing international footprint, and the importance of a customer-centric philosophy.

Hussain Sajwani
BIOGRAPHY
Hussain Sajwani graduated from the University of Washington and started his career as a Contracts Manager in GASCO, a subsidiary of ADNOC. After a short period, he established his own business and in 1982 started his own catering venture. In 2002, he identified the market opportunity and established DAMAC Properties, which has grown to become one of the largest property development companies in the Middle East. Today, DAMAC Properties has several prestigious projects in key global cities. Sajwani has also served as a member of several boards including the Majan University College in Muscat, JUNO Online in New York, and Emirates Takaful Company in Abu Dhabi.

How do you assess DAMAC's contribution to Dubai's vision of creating a world-class destination for business and tourism?

DAMAC Properties has been at the forefront of the region's real estate market since 2002, developing homes, communities, and delivering investment opportunities for its clients across the globe. By combining our understanding of the region and expertise, we have become known for delivering excellent return on investments. As brand awareness around DAMAC increased globally, and because our initial flagship projects were all developed in Dubai, we became synonymous with the Emirate itself. When our teams showcase projects in China or the UK, they are representing not only DAMAC but also Dubai; we are proud of playing a supportive role in Dubai's rise as a global hub for tourism and business. Alongside our industry partners and public-sector players, such as Dubai Land Department, we continue to push for growth, and we are glad that the real estate sector plays a critical part in the Emirate, and effectively, UAE's economic diversification.

What is the underlying philosophy of your real estate initiatives?

During DAMAC's founding years, our underlying customer-centric philosophy was to develop and provide unrivalled living experiences in Dubai. Fast-forward to today, our philosophy has not changed, only our scope has expanded. DAMAC now aims to create dream homes and unique living concepts in Dubai and beyond, for its global clients.

Could you elaborate on the scope of the AKOYA Oxygen project?

AKOYA Oxygen is DAMAC's 55 million sqft master community, located off the Umm Suqeim Road extension and approximately 15 minutes from DAMAC Hills. Since its inception, DAMAC has awarded over USD1.5 billion in construction contracts. AKOYA Oxygen is based on a vision of offering families a serene and secluded community, including state-of-the-art amenities, such as luxury shopping arcades and an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Tiger Woods Design, mosques, clinics, and nurseries.

What are the other flagship developments in your pipeline?

In Dubai, our customer relationship teams have been guiding our customers through the final stages of home delivery at DAMAC Hills, DAMAC Heights, DAMAC Residenze with interiors by Fendi Casa, and DAMAC Towers by Paramount Hotels & Resorts. In Riyadh, we're delivering DAMAC Exclusiva with Interiors by FENDI and DAMAC Tower by Paramount Residences Riyadh. Also, outside of the UAE, we're in the process of welcoming residents to DAMAC Tower Amman. Beyond that, we recently broke ground of our flagship development in the heart of Dubai, named AYKON City. The project has attracted both local and international investors' interest, owning to its prime location which offers convenience and overlooks the new Dubai Canal. Moreover, last year we announced a joint venture project with the government of Oman to transform Port Sultan Qaboos into an integrated, lifestyle destination that could see USD1 billion in investments.

How would you like to further grow DAMAC's international footprint?

The DAMAC brand now extends across the Middle East with projects in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, and Oman. In the UK, we are developing AYKON, London's first fashion-branded residential tower. We continue to explore opportunities in North America, Europe, and the Far East, as we look at how we can bring value to buyers and investors in those markets. With the success of AYKON London One, our focus continues to be on development opportunities in gateway cities around the world.

What is your outlook for the upcoming year?

There is an encouraging trend of increasing demand for ready inventory in Dubai. Some of this demand can be traced to the growing interest coming from China and India. Also, the run-up to Expo 2020 will be a boost to the local economy. Another encouraging step is the cabinet decision to allow 100% foreign ownership of businesses supported by a 10-year residency for investors, professionals, and students. We expect this to place organic demands on the real estate sector, while encouraging more expat residents to consider the UAE as a long-term home.