What were some of the challenges and lessons learned from the Twisted Tower in Dubai?
It was a truly challenging project, but ultimately is situated in one of the prime locations in the city. At that time, we could have opted to construct a regular, tall building and the location alone would have made it a stand-out scheme, but we instead chose to develop something special that would be instantly recognizable and that would distinguish Cayan from other developers. Therefore, we opted to pursue a particularly challenging design. I was advised that the project would cost more while generating the same return, and would additionally be far more difficult to construct. Regardless, we went ahead, and are proud of our decision to do so. We did not get the returns we wanted from the project, but the returns we gained from client satisfaction and public recognition makes us extremely satisfied.
What new projects are you planning for 2014?
We have more than one project, and we are working on a couple of megaprojects in Saudi Arabia. We will shortly announce one of them, which will comprise a neighborhood of 1 million sqm, and we are glad to have such a location and superb design. In fact, it has already been awarded best mixed development in Saudi Arabia by International Property Awards. Besides that, we are still structuring other deals, and have a few in Dubai. The challenge in Dubai is that after the amazing success of Cayan Tower nothing short of remarkable is possible, and, therefore, we are pushing ourselves to the limit. We have several plots and locations, and will announce one of them before the summer.
How are you going to work to maintain your high standards?
This is the challenge of maintaining outstanding projects. We have to sustain this success by bringing something different to the market, in other words, a signature building where the design, the location, and the way we are serving the clients must all be in harmony. At the end, that is what our clients expect from us.
Are you planning new residential projects in Dubai?
We have a number of residential projects and we are currently at the design stage, and will announce them by the end of 2014. In Dubai, we choose not to build the five-star hotels we might normally as they are required to serve alcohol. Here, the commercial sector is still not that attractive as the supply is high, so we are considering a branded residential project.
What is your outlook for the luxury real estate sector in Dubai in 2014?
The current level of competition generates more interest in luxury projects. This does not just mean design or furniture, but the concept itself, and this is what we are focused on. I believe that there is still room to develop new luxury projects in Dubai. After all, Dubai is not just a GCC or regional city, but an international destination like London, Hong Kong, or Singapore. It has that standard, and newcomers to Dubai are looking for luxury services. On several occasions we have been approached by existing clients keen to hear about our next project. There is clearly still healthy demand for luxury schemes.