Jul. 7, 2015


 Rizwan Sajan

UAE, Dubai

Rizwan Sajan

Founder and Chairman, Danube Group

TBY talks to Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman of Danube Group, on entering the Dubai market, branding, and the sector's future in the Emirate.

BIO

Rizwan Sajan is the Founder and Chairman of the Danube Group. The head office and logistics facilities are at the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA). Danube has transformed from only one shop with three employees to over 40 locations in nine countries worldwide, including the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Africa, and India, in addition to procurement offices in China with an employee strength of over 2,200 people. He is supported in the business by his brother Anis Sajan and son Adel Sajan.

How would you describe the strategy behind Danube Group entering the property development market, and what is your strategy going forward?

Going into development was simply following the evolution of the company. It has given us an edge over the other competitors. We always work in places where we have good synergy as we become a developer. The brand name was already there. After Dubai won the right to host Expo 2020, the market stabilized unlike before, so we felt that this was a great time to begin developing. Looking forward, I want to go cautiously and not do too many projects at one time. I want to take one project at a time, sell that project, consolidate, and move forward. That's what we've been doing in the last two projects. We bought some land, created a mass development, offered it in the market, sold it, and then went for the next property.

How would you describe the theme of your developments along with the customer segments you are targeting?

We are always targeting the middle-income market of people with salaries of around $6,800. We never go for luxury. This middle-income bracket should be able to afford our projects, and there is also a vacuum in that segment.

How will the brand of Danube's property development arm evolve over the years?

Emaar and DAMAC are good brands and have developed and done well in the past. After them, in my segment, there is not a single branded company that is available in the market. For example, the property that I recently sold, Glitz, was selling for $245/sqf, but my competition, which is a bigger brand, could sell the same thing at $340/sqf. They are able to get that higher price, but I am targeting the mid-segment market. In the mid-segment market, I cannot see any other brand that is evolving around us and therefore, we have a strong advantage in the market. We have a good reputation and credibility in the market. People know that we have been here for the last 20 years, and have been a building materials company for years.

How does that reflect the market trends in the UAE as a whole?

At the moment, the market is a little slow compared to what we saw last year. The market went up after the Expo 2020 decision, then after Ramadan it dropped off. Property values fell, especially in the luxury segment, but it's starting to pick up again and we can see some movement now. Hopefully it should go up. In the long term, I believe that growth of 15% to 20% can be expected in the years to come.

What are your expectations for the real estate market in Dubai going forward?

There is definitely going to be demand for real estate in this market because of the number of people migrating to Dubai. Also, rentals have gone up by 50% in the past six months. This shows that there is a shortage of supply of real estate in the market. Not many developments are coming onto the market. There are some buildings, but that does not really satisfy the demand in the market. I predict that in the next three or four years, the market will be busy for real estate.

What does your success say about Dubai and the UAE as an investment climate?

Dubai is always a land of opportunity. If you are doing your business in the right way and have the right product to offer in the market, Dubai will provide you that opportunity. For example, we have been in Jebel Ali for many years. For any problem, we just have to walk into the CEO's office, explain our problem, and they will find a solution for us. They do not make you feel like you are a private company. They let you work freely and allow you to grow within the country. That is part of our business plan in the Middle East and other places also, so the way Dubai helps business people is impressive. That is the reason for our success in this country.