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With 700 families already living in Jumeirah Golf Estates (JGE) and the annual DP World Tour Championship golf tournament attracting 60,000-65,000 visitors, the community has its fair share of appeal among Dubai residents. It is now set to appeal to a whole new demographic with recent plans announced for 674 mid-market properties that include apartments and town houses. In an exclusive interview with Yousuf Kazim, the CEO of JGE, we learn more about the latest offerings from the community.
Give us an update on the progress at JGE?
We are finalising and handing over the units for the Flame Tree Ridge and Redwood projects to customers. At the same time, we have launched a new development. We have called it Al Andalus, the Arabic word for Andalusia; the idea is to establish the south of Spain type of lifestyle at JGE. This development is mixed-use and consists of apartments, town houses as well as retail and hospitality components. The project will have about 550 apartments and 75 town houses, so around 625 units in total, and the prices start at Dh597,000 for a one-bedroom apartment.
That is a very different price range. Why launch a mid-market product?
We definitely want to maintain the high quality of a JGE product. The reason for going into this segment is that we wanted to diversify our product range. The market also requires this [midmarket] sector to be served. We never had this component in JGE, so having these type of apartments overlooking the golf course will provide a unique experience.
What salary bracket are you targeting with the Al Andalus properties?
The salary segment is from Dh30,000-Dh40,000 a month, and the age group is from 25 up to 39 years.
How has the response been for this project?
We had a lot of interested parties at the soft launch. We launched a second phase of sales on May 30. At each phase we are launching a specific number of units or buildings and that will allow the development to take shape and ensure that we can do the handover at the right time. We are very keen to follow the right process in terms of delivery to the customers. The apartments are expected to be handed over in the second quarter of 2018. The town houses will be launched in future phases.
Why did you choose to have town houses in a golf development as opposed to other models?
We launched the Redwood town houses during Cityscape 2014. These are three- and four-bedroom units and the target market is mostly high end. The Al Andalus town houses start from two-bedroom units at around 2,800-3,050 sq ft, and go up to four-bedroom units at roughly 3,300-3,500 sq ft.
Do you feel that town houses are popular with local investors?
I think if you look at it from both end user and investment points of view, the town house component is a very useful product. In terms of rental, it brings the right yield and offers a great style of living. Also customers often want to move from apartments into town houses before they own a villa. A lot of people here in Dubai are becoming very clever about their own investments.
They look at the stages; this could be ideal for them down the road when they own a villa, as they would have a town house as an investment unit for rental.
JGE profits have surged by 68 per cent since 2013.
Looking at JGE since I came on board in January 2013, we concentrated on finalising a few elements that needed to be completed. The minute we finished these — in terms of infrastructure, completion of villas and handover of the units — the revenues came along and we started to gain the right profits from the project. The following year  was very successful. This proves that JGE is strong from a financial point of view. This is an indication that delivery is definitely happening, the project is evolving and that we are going to launch some new projects.
What has been JGE’s biggest achievement?
Frankly, the biggest achievement is the completion of infrastructure and handover of units — that’s the most important thing. This comes along with the completion of the clubhouse; when we say [it’s finished], it means that we are really satisfied and that it meets the needs of our members.
Another achievement is the high-tech golf academy, the European Tour Performance Institute, the second of its kind in the world.
Where do you see JGE ten years from now?
I think we will be looking at golf development itself. We are not just a developer, we also provide facilities to tourists in Dubai and that’s something that we want to continue. As we are in the heart of new Dubai, near Dubai South and the World Expo 2020 site, we want to offer more developments that add value in fulfilling the vision of the emirate in terms of hospitality, retail and providing even more golf courses with unique facilities. Going forward, we are looking at all of these possibilities.
Source: Helga Jensen-Forde, Special to PW