SETTINGNEW STANDARDS

Dubai 2020 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

Ithra Dubai develops and manages mixed-used projects on a bold and ambitious scale with a mission to transcend traditional real estate projects and enrich communities.

Issam Galadari
BIOGRAPHY

As founder and CEO of Ithra Dubai, Issam Galadari has launched some of the most recognizable real estate landmarks in the city. Over a career that spans 30 years, Galadari has proved himself in a number of vital roles, including real estate director at Investment Corporation of Dubai, CEO of Emaar Properties, and managing director of Emaar International.

He sits on the boards of Kerzner International Holdings Limited, Amlak Finance PJSC, and Atlantis the Palm 2 Holding L.L.C, and puts his expertise and vision at the service of numerous professional associations, including the UAE Society of Engineers and the Institution of Civil Engineering in the UK.

What are the latest updates for the projects currently under development?
We are creating communities where people feel good about living and working, and this is especially true for One Za'abeel, an iconic addition to the city and a must-visit destination that will be completed by end of 2021. It is a 230,000-sqm mixed-use project with two towers standing at 300m and 235m respectively, and a panoramic sky concourse dubbed “The Link" suspended perpendicularly to both towers. The Link, which is being constructed in six different stages, will house the largest cantilever in the world. Tower B is purely residential while Tower A is a mix of luxury serviced residential and grade A office space. It will also include Dubai's only urban resort. One Za'abeel will offer extensive amenities, including restaurants with Michelin-quality chefs.

What makes One Za'abeel unique in Dubai's real estate development space?
One Za'abeel represents the future of mixed-use developments. People nowadays seek walkability and proximity to the city's nerve centers in a sustainable environment, and we are providing them with that and more. Our architectural aesthetic is simple in terms of design, but highly complex from an architectural standpoint insofar as we spend a great deal of time studying the impact of the structure and its environmental and shading effects. We are also working on acquiring LEED Gold certification.

How do projects like One Za'abeel contribute to Dubai?
We ensure that our developments improve and positively augment existing communities. We focus on sustainability as evidenced by our Deira Enrichment Project, where we prioritized green spaces over cement blocks, identified missing elements, and expanded the fabric of the community while respecting the culture and history of Deira. With the Deira Enrichment Project, we understood that the structure of the location had to be accounted for in every step. We listened to all the stakeholders before breaking ground, and this is one of the reasons why this project is so successful. Similar to One Za'abeel's proximity to public transport, the Deira project includes two metro stations and we are now building the first integrated transportation hub. The government allocated a large capital to the metro system, and our role is to ensure that the top-side development will maintain the viability of that investment. Phase I of the project will serve 8,000 residents and 4,000 staff members. The first delivery will be toward early 2020, and we are hoping to finish the project by the end of 2023.

Do you see other developers adopting a similar approach to Ithra?
We have been mandated by the Investment Corporation of Dubai to look at both the bottom line and our added value to the Emirate. Other developers are starting to think along the lines of this formula, which ensures a win-win for all. The positive impact is easily assessed in the context of Deira Enrichment Project for instance through the growth of economic activity. Deira accounts for around 10% of Dubai's GDP with its proximity to education, business, and healthcare facilities and its waterfront market. This unique food market is one of the largest in Dubai, accommodating 30,000 people a day.

Moving forward, what is your vision for Dubai's real estate sector?
The government has taken many initiatives to reduce the cost of living, and we want to make sure that our developments advance the economy and benefit the environment. We will maintain our growth trajectory as we mature while espousing the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, with a focus on attracting new investments, encouraging small businesses, and creating enriching communities that connect people.