UDC is one of the leading public shareholding companies in Qatar. What are its main areas of activity?
Since its inception 20 years ago, UDC has sought to play a key role in the development of a variety of industries. Our activities span numerous fields, including real estate development, property management, infrastructure, and utilities, as well as maritime and hospitality-related businesses. Across these various industries, we have focused on investing in long-term projects that contribute to Qatar's growth and provide positive shareholder value, such as The Pearl – Qatar. In recent years, the island has been the focus of numerous development projects that feature residential units, office spaces, retail outlets, entertainment facilities, award-winning marinas, and beaches. More than 350 retail brands are currently operating on the island, occupying more than 115,000sqm of leased retail space. By the end of 2021, we expect to accommodate close to 50,000 residents. UDC has recently completed numerous milestones in the ongoing development of the island. These include the construction of Al Mutahidah Towers and the delivery of 10 villas in Giardino Village, among others. These developments help serve a fast-growing population and an influx of tourists, all while initiating the development of our latest venture, Gewan Island, which will span 400,000sqm. Once completed, this new island will accommodate 3,500 residents and 3,000 daily visitors. The island includes a golf course, an air-conditioned outdoor Crystal Walkway, which acts like the island's spine, retail areas, entertainment facilities, a sports club, and a mosque.
What are the most appealing sectors to continue diversifying your business portfolio, and how does UDC plan to penetrate them?
UDC owns a number of subsidiaries that form synergies between a number of sectors, particularly the real estate market. These companies have expanded their operations in recent years to offer our clients top-quality services. These subsidiaries are Madinainova, which serves the needs of property owners and residents of The Pearl – Qatar. Then there is The Pearl Owners Corporation (TPOC), which acts as the manager of the co-owners associations. Our hospitality development company grows, owns, and operates world-class hospitality businesses on the island. Finally, Ronautica Middle East operates Porto Arabia Marina, the largest marina facility in the Middle East, with a capacity of up to 891 berths.
Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will require strong investments in real estate. How is UDC contributing to this?
We believe that Qatar represents an attractive investment destination, particularly when it comes to the real estate sector. Qatar's attractive business environment, emerging tourism sector, and growing expat communities are fueling demand in the property market. All of these preparations are driven by a diversified economy and USD200 billion worth of investments in infrastructure projects. Qatar will host a large number of visitors, so it is important to build more hotels and units. We need to work with the committee to hammer out the details, but we are ready to host, and we have enough facilities to do that. UDC is also contributing to the promotion of Qatar as a leading regional tourism destination.
What has been the international recognition of the project?
In 2018, The Pearl – Qatar was named the best mixed-use development by the prestigious Arabian Property Awards. Moreover, the London-based International Finance Magazine named UDC as the best real estate development company in Qatar in 2018. In 2019, we added two prestigious accolades to our list of honors at The International Property Awards. These are the Best Mixed-Use Development Award for The Pearl – Qatar and the Commercial High-Rise Development Award for UDC Tower.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
In 2019, we will pursue our development projects across The Pearl – Qatar to further enhance the ambiance of the island and attract new investors, residents, retailers, and visitors. We are also going forward with the development of Floresta Gardens precinct, Giardino Mall, and Gewan Island.