MAKING ROOM FOR THE E-BOOM

UAE, Sharjah 2017 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Abdelaziz Ahmed Shams Al Shamsi, General Manager of the Real Estate Registration Directorate, on the critical price differentiation with other emirates, the importance of Sharjah's world-class manufacturing hub, and why data collection is so crucial to boosting services.

Abdelaziz Ahmed Shams Al Shamsi
BIOGRAPHY
Abdelaziz Ahmed Shams Al Shamsi received a bachelor’s degree in business information technology from the Higher Colleges of Technology in 1998. He began his career at the Ministry of Interior in 1995, then joined the Real Estate Registration Department in Sharjah in 2004. He was appointed Director of the Department in 2010 and later became General Director in February 2016. He was previously a member of the Land Allocation and Compensation Commission and the Government Housing Committee, and has been the Chairman of the Standing Compensation Committee since 2012.

You recently organized the fourth Middle East Investment and Real Estate Exhibition (Acres Middle East 2017) in Sharjah in collaboration with the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. What main conclusions did you draw from this event?

We decided this event would take place in Sharjah every year from now on. This is a stage for those who are interested in investing in the real estate market. On this stage, we will host developers, owners, investors, and customers who will meet and discuss the top proper investments in Sharjah. For developers, it is like conducting a survey, and they are promoting their real estate products and receiving feedback. Then, they can see if the yearly trends are going toward residential units, how many bedrooms, and qualities like that.

How would you describe the significance of the real estate market for the overall economy of Sharjah?

The economy and real estate are closely connected. On the economic side is the company, the showroom, the residence of the employee, and the factory. Both are important and well connected.

How have real estate transactions evolved over time in Sharjah?

Based on the 2016 statistics, the volume of real estate trading increased by 9.8% to AED24.7 million. In Sharjah, we have different segments and sections of real estate such as residential, commercial, and industrial. Moreover, in 2014 His Highness submitted the Usufruct Contract, which allows foreigners to buy in Sharjah. This arrangement is set for 100 years in special areas with different land uses. This is why we have been receiving a lot of requests from foreigners who would like to invest in these areas. This initiative started in Sharjah in 2014 and is one of several positive decisions to attract investors to Sharjah that is contributing to the development of our Emirate. Many investors come from the GCC and Arab countries.

How has the e-boom impacted the way the department operates?

We have a new organizational structure, and there is an innovation office within this structure. This will manage and control the entire procedure of the innovation and the real estate structure and departments. We have a website, mobile application, and some additional digital services. We also have a cooperation agreement with other sectors and departments, such as the economic department and planning department, where we share the information from our side, such as services. Data collection is crucial to allowing these departments to provide good service.

How would you describe the business environment in Sharjah, and why should international investors choose Sharjah over other Emirates?

Here in Sharjah we have free zones, infrastructure, and an international airport. There are many things that make it helpful for investors to invest. Prices between Sharjah and the other Emirates are also an advantage. We also have areas where we can invest in such as residential, commercial, and industrial areas. This is also a manufacturing hub, so anything an investor needs can be sourced here.

How would you describe the evolution of real estate prices in Sharjah?

Every market has its own surprises, and it is hard to compare them to others because all the conditions are different in each Emirate. For us this is an encouraging environment for real estate investors, and prices are still significantly lower than in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

What are your expectations for the next year?

The first quarter of 2017 showed more transactions than the same period in 2016. We expect better numbers for the second quarter. At the moment, apartments are driving the bulk of the growth of transactions. Industrial and commercial numbers are also rising gradually.