EXTENDED STAY

UAE, Dubai 2015 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Imad Dana, CEO of Al Zorah Development Company, on opportunities in the sector, investor profiles, and his outlook for the future.

 Imad Dana
BIOGRAPHY
Imad Dana has been acting, since 2007, as CEO of Al Zorah Development Company. Earlier, he worked with Solidere Lebanon for over 12 years as Senior Project Director. A professional Civil Engineer, he holds two Master’s degrees in Environmental Engineering and Construction Management from the State University of New York.

What are the main benefits and advantages for investors wanting to invest in the area?

Al Zorah was established by a joint venture between the government of Ajman and Solidere International. The government brought the free zones and Solidere brought all its expertise in making cities. After these master plans, the investors are going to enjoy both Ajman as an emerging Emirate and Al Zorah as an integrated project, also emerging as a community with a good lifestyle and a lot of attributes that investors like. Apart from starting a business and getting the reputation and residency associated with that as a free zone area, you can get a package deal as a free zone area and all the properties. The mixed-use aspect is catering to many investors. There are land investors that can build their own projects. Also, Al Zorah makes a lot of sense business wise. It is masterfully crafted, so it is something that will sustain itself over time. It's not something that you just come in and come out of; real estate is about value creation. As time passes, the value will become higher and higher.

What kind of investors are investing in Al Zorah?

We started with the big investors interested in buying land to develop. Now, we are offering villas in a limited number with the best scenery, like on the Gulf. In Phase II, we will offer apartments by the beach or around the marine and townhouses on the Gulf. This is a free zone, so the profile of the investors is people who are looking to come to Al Zorah to have 100% ownership over the land. Once a business is established, you get residency. The Al Zorah Free Zone Authority issues trade licenses, in that respect. Once you get your trade license, you can get residency and bring in employees and enjoy zero taxation. From a business point of view, it's not just that the quality is amazing, but also that it makes so much sense because of zero taxation, and because it's an easy place to establish a business and operate. Investors that work with us are more worried about value than anything else, so we create the right value for their money and we are committed to continuing this job at the right place so we don't overdo or underdo it. We want to present value for people. We have done it elsewhere in the world. That's why here we don't over build; we have just the right amount. If things slow down in the future, I think Al Zorah will be in the right position to sustain the changes in the market.

What is the current status of the master plan?

The master plan is well advanced and Phase I should be completed by the beginning of 2016. It will include all of the main infrastructure, while an 18-hole golf course, villas, two five-star resorts on the beach, and four marinas have already been completed. One of the marinas will be ready to receive boats during Phase I. The best part of this project is the nature. We have natural mango trees that are second to none. You can bring your kids and go kayaking. You can see pelicans and 52 species of birds. You are in touch with nature. That's a big asset that doesn't exist in many places in the UAE.

What are your future plans of expansion?

We build places for life. We are really passionate about our business. In the last 25 years we have taken the business from Lebanon and made it international. Apart from the locations we are already in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Lebanon, we are now looking into three new international destinations. Our investors like those destinations and they are very promising. We are now very strong regionally and we will become more international in the coming years.