PIERCING THE CLOUDS

UAE, Sharjah 2017 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to George Khouzami, Development Manager of Al Thuriah, on how to offer customers the highest quality and diversity of options, meeting rising expectations, and scaling operations to meet costs without sacrificing quality.

George Khouzami
BIOGRAPHY
With a degree in business administration from the American University of Beirut and six years of experience in real estate development, George Khouzami is the Development Manager of Al Thuriah, helping to lead the group to becoming one of the most renowned real estate and construction brands in the region, thanks to its excellent customer service and products. By doing so, he aims to make the experience of owning a home a pleasant and enjoyable process for all of Al Thuriah’s clients.

What is the history and background of the company?

The company has developed substantially since its establishment in 1996. Its first project was to build a fence for the Lycée Francophone in Dubai. Afterwards, the company took on villa and small residential projects until 2007, when it embarked on tower projects. Today, Al Thuriah is a high-rise tower developer in Sharjah with a fully integrated real estate service. Al Thuriah develops, builds, and manages. The company is highly selective when choosing projects, partners, and sub-contractors, and measures itself on its ability to deliver quality turnkey projects on schedule.

What have been the main projects of the company in Sharjah?

One of Al Thuriah's key contributions to Sharjah's development has been focused on the Al Khan Area. We took part in developing two areas, Al Nahda and Al Khan, and constructed both Petrofac Towers and the headquarters for the Bank of Sharjah. These developments have since been strengthened, and Al Thuriah has since developed several residential towers, some of them already finished and others in progress. Al Thuriah develops high-end residential towers, providing new living spaces to cater to the Emirates' growing demand. As standards and expectations rise, Al Thuriah endeavors to meet demand and lead the market's development of best practices.

How does being a fully integrated company differentiate Al Thuriah's offering?

Being fully integrated means that Al Thuriah can offer our clients a one-stop shop; an investor can buy an apartment from us with minimal hassle as we would lease it on their behalf, handling all of the paperwork and agency discussions as it is all managed through the same entity be that Al Thuriah Leasing, Al Thuriah Properties, or Al Thuriah Facilities management. Ensuring that there is one point of contact has been the company's focus for the past year.

What developments are still available for sale and lease?

We are leasing Sahara Tower 4, which was handed over in mid-2017, and Pearl Tower, which was handed over in February 2017. By the close of the year, Al Thuriah will have Sahara Tower 6, which is under construction as I speak. In 2017 we will also launch a megaproject, which represents a market difference in terms of architecture, concept, and it will be an environmentally friendly build. This tower will have 1,000 apartments and is strategically located, being on the border with Dubai, providing a superior location to the Sahara Complex. With this, we will be one step ahead of the competition, building on the strength of the Al Thuriah brand as well as building towers.

How much potential is there for conceptual buildings in Sharjah?

The Sharjahan market is not yet ready for conceptual buildings. The profile of customers who want to live and invest in Sharjah differs from the profile of those who buy in Dubai. We see potential in designing better looking towers, but we want to offer our customers more variety. As such, for our next project, we are changing the layouts of the floor plans so that owners can own a unique apartment.

What are the main challenges that you encounter in facility management?

We face difficulties in differentiating our levels of service to the budgetary constraints of the owners and sometimes we have to compromise on the quality of service. We do not have this in Dubai, where our level of service matches the higher budgets.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

We are optimistic for the future and are looking forward to launching new projects. In terms of branding activities, we are moving more into digital media and are focusing on our online presence and social media. We have an open-door policy at Al Thuriah, and we do not see customers as income flows but as people who we build a relationship with from start to end, unlike other companies operating in this sector.