Rob Burns

Rob Burns

CEO, The First Group (TFG)
Josef Kleindienst

Josef Kleindienst

Chairman, Kleindienst Group
As Dubai's real estate market faces steep competition, some companies are securing a bigger slice of the pie with their creative ability and alternate ideas.

What is the story behind the company's establishment in Dubai, and what have been some major achievements?

ROB BURNS TFG was established in 2005, and we are proud to have played a role in Dubai's ongoing transformation. We started with residential tower developments in Dubai Sports City (DSC), where we also have a hotel project underway that will be managed by our partner Wyndham Hotel Group. Over the years, we have expanded our portfolio to include developments in Barsha Heights, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Village Circle, Jumeriah Village Triangle, and Business Bay. Our business model is unique; our clients are mainly retail investors who purchase individual units and earn regular income from their investment. Each month, we register more than 45,000 international investors who have an interest in Dubai. We have completed 11 projects in Dubai and have another eight currently under construction. We also employ a large workforce; we started with six employees and now we have more than 1,000.

JOSEF KLEINDIENST We established the company in Dubai in 2002 when freehold property ownership was established. In addition to investing in real estate, we set up a brokerage company and started to work with Emaar in 2003, when it gave us an exclusive contract to sell its properties in continental Europe. Between 2003 and 2008, around 5% of Emaar's properties were sold to our clients. Then, we started developing, constructing, and trading business centers and several other businesses. Today, we have 23 trade licenses in Dubai. In 2008, Kleindienst was one of more than 40 real estate companies from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria operating in Dubai, though in 2009 we were the only one. When others left the market, we decided to stay and take care of these areas. In 2008, we had a staff of around 100 people, which has grown to around 1,500 in Dubai and abroad. Despite the company's success in other markets, its focus is on Dubai.

What are some other strengths and competitive advantages that you enjoy on the development side?

RB There are three core facets of our business, which are operated autonomously by our leadership team. Our product development team manages the entire project development process including location selection, land acquisition, concept development, design, and strong oversight and supervision across the various construction phases through to handover. Our core business element is our marketing platform, which is also our main differentiator. Our sophisticated direct marketing strategy is unlike any other deployed in the market and while this approach requires significant investment, it enables us to navigate markets in a highly effective manner. Finally, we have our Asset Management and Food and Beverage business, which is managed by an exceptional team of hospitality professionals.

What is your approach to high-end real estate?

JF We build tourist products rather than residential products. These can be hotels or second, third, or fourth holiday homes. Those who purchase our properties belong to the upper class; we want to build something that they have not experienced before. For example, our Floating Seahorse villas or the under-construction coral reef. The Floating Seahorse villas have one level fully submerged in water and although experts from the Dubai Municipality said it was not possible, we decided to continue because we want to build something that is entirely unique. We are a company that likes to take on seemingly impossible challenges. When we decided to make it snow in Dubai, we received extensive media coverage. People said it was impossible, yet we knew it was a challenge that we could rise to. We had to bring technologies that nobody ever used here and find solutions for the lack of spare parts, mechanics, or exact configurations. Currently, we are testing three different snow machines to find the most efficient one. Our biggest snow machine is able to produce around 20cbm of snow per day.

What are the main projects in your pipeline?

RB We currently have eight hotel properties under construction. Our next project in the Marina will open in December and will be managed by Millennium Hotels & Resorts, followed by a Wyndham Garden Hotel in JVC, a Millennium Hotel in JVT, and another Wyndham Garden Hotel in Business Bay. Equally important, we are excited to launch the world's first “MasterChef the TV Experience" restaurant in Dubai by end-2018. The concept, which will include residencies by famous MasterChef contestants from around the world, is truly unique and we plan to roll it out to other international markets.

JF The Dubai government's vision for the World was introduced to us in 2003 and contained three important elements: the developments should follow the Maldives style; the world's famous cultures should be incorporated across 300 islands; and the Heart of Europe, which will be the first freehold place outside the city where people can enjoy a weekend, party, and celebrate life. Our goal is to complete it by Expo 2020.