OVER THE CREST

Oman 2015 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hawazen Esber, CEO of The Wave, on what makes the project unique and the wide mix of residents.

Hawazen Esber
BIOGRAPHY
Hawazen Esber was appointed CEO at The Wave in 2013. Previously, he was with Majid Al Futtaim Properties, a 50% joint venture partner of The Wave. He has over 18 years of experience in site and investment selection, pre-development and development strategies, feasibility analysis, revitalization and renovation, zoning and entitlements, and PPPs. He has a degree in Architecture and a Master’s in Architecture and Building Engineering from the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

What are the unique qualities of The Wave project?

The Wave is not only unique in Oman, but in the region. We have a spectacular six kilometer beachfront location within 10 minutes of the international airport and integrated safe, landscaped residential areas with lifestyle amenities such as a Greg Norman-designed signature PGA championship golf course for day and night golf, a world-class award winning marina, convenience retail, a community beach, and restaurant and café precincts. This combination makes The Wave one of the most sought-after residential communities in the region with over 60 different nationalities already calling The Wave home. People are attracted to the convenience and sense of community and belonging that the integration brings, and many people have brought their extended families from around the region to come and live here as well.

Who are the key targets for The Wave?

The Wave has several components that make it attractive. In terms of residents, Omanis make up about 20% of permanent residents, a figure that is growing each year and represents about 40% of all of our buyers. The balance of buyers are long-term expatriates who live and work in Oman as well as international investors wanting to enjoy the residency offered through the Royal Decreed Integrated Tourism Complex (ITC) freehold ownership scheme, as well as the investment opportunity of owning property at The Wave. The strong demand for the project locally and regionally is evidence of the strong success of the ITC concept in Oman to attract foreign investment into the residential sector. As the project matures and Oman's economy continues to grow there will be increased demand for quality residential property from the regional market as well as international investors. We have only completed around 30% of the residential components of the project and the best is yet to come.

How would you assess The Wave's potential to develop alternative commercial opportunities?

The Wave is a platform for many opportunities, not just commercial. For example, Oman Sail, a separate company, has its headquarters at The Wave marina and through its sailing schools is developing young Omani sailors and creating employment opportunities for Omanis in marina and maritime industries. We plan to attract more such businesses, and in early 2015 will launch an office park. We are already receiving requests from companies hoping to establish a presence within The Wave and be part of its success.

In your experience, what are the main challenges in the market?

In this market, as in others, when dealing with projects of this size the regulatory environment is always evolving. We are in partnership with the government, both at the project level with the government as a 50% joint venture partner, and also at the administrative and regulatory level, where we are part of the catalyst to help establish a regulatory framework. Fortunately, The Wave enjoys a good working relationship with the government and is benchmarking not only for the country, but for other countries within the region as well.