How does the evolution of Manazel's portfolio reflect the trends in the Abu Dhabi real estate sector?
Since its inception, the company's portfolio was created with a vision to provide a holistic, self-sustainable living environment. This can be seen in all our project launches since 2006: they were all consecutive residential, commercial, and retail developments. In particular, we look for energy saving techniques that cut running costs, connecting developments through district cooling plants. A prime example of this concept is Al Reef 1, which provides its 17,000 residents with retail options and clean energy solutions. Another example is the district cooling plant that connects Capital Mall with the related land that will feature Manazel Medical City in addition to future developments. That being said, we continue to look for opportunities to target the middle class-market segment within the UAE and MENA at large despite tight margins and the risk of oversupply. In doing so, we will leverage our strong and highly capable workforce, made up of many UAE nationals occupying various positions across all levels of the organization and its subsidiaries.
How do you project demand for your properties to evolve in the near future, and how does Manazel seek to adjust to this evolution?
In terms of clients, the company has built a solid brand value synonymous with the mid-income segment. The mid-market segmentdle class represents a completely different target compared to the majority of domestic and international developers and investors engaged in the UAE, whose aim remains the luxury real estate. However, in light of the new economic changes impacting the country, Manazel has sought to diversify its revenue stream through a varied portfolio to insulate itself from the volatility of the property market. The company has been strategically utilizing existing lands and branching into healthcare, education, and other non-cyclical defensive sectors with recurring income.
What could revitalize the property sector in Abu Dhabi?
The growth of the property sector is strongly tied to investor demands and sentiment, which are in turn highly influenced by macroeconomic signals. Abu Dhabi's economic growth is greatly reliant on the performance of the oil sector, which plays a crucial role in creating demand for both residential and commercial property in the Emirate. Over the last few years, the UAE has taken a number of steps to reduce its dependence by encouraging the growth of the non-oil sector such as healthcare, education, technology, and so on, while also increasing government funds through VAT. The signs are positive, with recent reports from SCAD reporting an overall GDP growth of 5.3% for Abu Dhabi in 3Q2017 compared to the same period the previous year. We have seen investor sentiment increasing since the start of 2018.
How is technology shaping the real estate and facility management industry in Abu Dhabi?
As a developer, business intelligence is extremely important in order to pace the launch of projects, and we have seen this aspect being incorporated at the government level in the Dubai Land Department's Smart Investment. Technologies such as virtual reality and 3D printing will be a large part of the real estate and construction business in the years to come, and, just as in the finance and health industry, developers will have to adapt to in order to maintain their competitive advantage.
What are biggest opportunities in the real estate market, and how would you assess the impact of the new regulatory measures affecting the industry?
The UAE real estate market supported by the country's strong levels of market growth and sound planning will eventually resume its performance. The current offering of premium value is not only domestic, but also for international investors, whether they reside in the country or not. Thus, more regulations were a necessary step to continue to attract investors and increase confidence. This is true for the real estate market and for other key non-oil sectors that will experience growth. Investors in the UAE will seek unique real estate that gives stable yields and insulation from market volatility in growing markets such as healthcare and education. With this in mind, the company has and will continue to carefully cultivate its portfolio to meet investor needs.