- Broker Directory
- My Tools
- News & Advice
- Market Trends
- Other GN Sites
Developer wasl properties, part of the wasl Asset Management Group, has been busy regenerating traditional areas of Dubai such as Karama, and keeps coming up with new ideas to revitalise both freehold and nonfreehold areas of the emirate. Property Weekly talks to Hesham Al Qassim, CEO of wasl Asset Management Group, about the effect of the company's projects on Dubai's real estate landscape.
- You have built several stylish yet affordable apartment complexes in Karama, such as wasl Hub and wasl Duet, with a mission to regenerate the area. What impact have your projects had on the neighbourhood?
Wasl's strategy is to revitalise these districts, transforming them into modern, contemporary neighbourhoods. The new buildings are a reflection of wasl properties' rejuvenation programme, with their distinctive architectural designs, modern amenities, convenient retail facilities and abundance of parking for residents and visitors. Tenants in these areas are looking for quality living with affordable prices, and some tenants who were living in other developments by wasl upgraded and moved into these new buildings.
- Rents at the new buildings are higher compared with older buildings in the area. Has this affected your tenants?
A significant percentage of enquiries that we receive are related to residential and commercial spaces located within established areas. The demographics have not changed as the tenants, who would pay for quality product, did not have suitable options earlier. These newer buildings are filling that gap.
- You have targeted the Muhaisnah area in a similar way with Wasl Oasis II, again affordable but more upmarket than its surroundings. Has it made the area more attractive to tenants?
Wasl Oasis II attracts people from the subcontinent and a number of Middle Eastern countries. Many tenants shift from the neighbouring emirate of Sharjah, as Muhaisnah offers some respite from the long commute, with the area also providing a more affordable option and positioned close to several schools. The tenant mix comprises people who have moved from Al Nahda and Al Qusais due to the higher quality of the development, including larger sizes, assigned parking spaces and a gated community.
- You have already introduced over 3,500 units in 12 projects in these two areas, and have another eight projects in the pipeline. Could you provide more detail on these projects?
The majority of the upcoming schemes will be located within Umm Hurair, where several developments have already been released. We have three projects under construction in the area. We are working on more buildings, which will be coming up in Al Mina (Dry Docks).
- Would you be looking at regenerating other areas? For example, you have Samari Residences in the Ras Al Khor industrial area.
There is a project planned in Ras Al Khor, which will be a higher-quality offering compared with Samari Residences. Wasl's mandate is to rejuvenate the older areas of Dubai such as Naif, Karama, Muhaisnah, etc.
- What did you create more freehold projects, after Hyatt Regency Creek Heights?
We are seeking to diversify our portfolio in line with the range of plots we hold in strategic locations across Dubai. To this end we decided to apply our expertise in project development and management to the freehold sector. Wasl has already mastered the leasehold sector and we aim to also stand out in the freehold sector. We have a specific philosophy and business model when it comes to freehold, which is to sell properties to cover our costs and hold the remaining units to be leased out.
A key motivation behind this is that the company has great confidence in what it offers and believes in its projects. We entered the freehold market with a complete project, Hyatt Regency Creek Heights Residences, which comprises two towers, the first containing fully furnished freehold luxury apartments and the second housing an ultra-modern five-star hotel.
The 43-floor residential tower has 443 units furnished by the leading name in hospitality, Hyatt. The apartments are appointed as per Hyatt's five-star standards, with premium amenities including a pool and gym. The Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights Hotel includes four restaurants, a spa, gym, pool and Business Centre.
- Will you move more towards freehold, or will leasehold remain your core business?
Our core business will definitely remain leasehold, this being what we excel in. The move to freehold is primarily motivated by our efforts to diversify our real estate portfolio.
- Can you talk a little more about your upcoming freehold projects?
We have several freehold projects that launched last year, including wasl 1, wasl Gate and Nad Al Hammar Gardens. Wasl 1 will be located in Zabeel Park. Wasl's designers were inspired by the beauty of the park to envision the development's integrated building design, which features harmonious shapes that form an angle resembling the figure ''1'' — the concept being that Dubai has the vision to be number one in all aspects of life.
Nad Al Hammar Gardens is a six-million-sq-ft site with 117 plots facing Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road. Wasl Gate will sit on a 15-million-sq-ft site in Jebel Ali. It is a spacious development that reflects the city's contemporary vision and its strategic 2021 Plan.
- What are the components of wasl Gate?
The key features of wasl Gate include the Innovation Centre that aims to attract talented young people to practice modern arts, and a towering building, Ibdaa Tower, which will feature spaces for temporary rent to help innovators demonstrate their creativity. Ibdaa Tower will house a digital library. Next to it is Ibdaa Square, which will host exhibitions for new concepts and ideas, making the combined buildings an ideal destination for creative activities and events from the UAE and beyond.
The master plan will include residential buildings, villas and town houses, in addition to office towers, a retail centre, showrooms, hotels, an education facility and a park half the size of Safa Park located in the centre of the project.
Source: Nicole Walter, Special to Property Weekly