Dubai developer goes all out to tap overseas investor

Sobha LLC, which has multiple projects in Meydan City, Mohammad Bin Rashid City (MBR City) and Business Bay, is opening five overseas sales and marketing offices to keep pulling in wealthy investors' interest in Dubai realty. The new offices will be in London, Singapore, as well as in Kuwait City, Doha and Riyadh. (There could be a second office in Saudi Arabia, in Jeddah.)

''While these will add to our cost structure, it's the developer's job to create awareness of Dubai in the right markets,'' said Ajay Rajendran, vice-chairman of Sobha LLC, part of the Dh2.2 billion Sobha Group, which also has interests in construction and wood works. (Another Group subsidiary in India has built upscale residential clusters in key southern Indian cities and is also listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange. The non-Indian operations make up more than 30 per cent of the Group's top-line numbers.)

''While regional investors will always retain an interest, there's still much that can be done in telling the story of Dubai property to high networth individuals in global cities. Dubai offers a compelling opportunity for a second home or purely as an investment.''

Dubai's developers of premium properties have been making subtle changes in the way they pitch their sales campaigns. While some are going all out for buyers in the other Gulf states, others have started to explore possibilities tapping cash-ready investors in the Far East. Sobha's opening in Singapore should thus be viewed in this light.

For the immediate future, the developer plans to build up its roster of existing projects rather than launch new ones. ''That's certainly the intention for the next 12 months at least,'' said Rajendran. ''We do have other land acquisitions in Dubai, but that's for the future.''

That still means there is lots to do. The developer has mounted two substantial projects in MBR City. For one, it has a joint venture with Meydan to develop the sprawling District One.

The second project, the $4 billion (Dh14 billion) Hartland, is being developed by Sobha LLC on its own. Construction work will start on the 280 villas and the ground plus eight-storey (G+8) structures (which will add 1,800 units) in the second quarter. Hartland is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2017.

And it is also making a strategic foray into the education and hospitality sectors. Its first school will open in Hartland by September and there are plans for a second one, also at the same location.

''The other way we are adding to the revenue stream is building a four-star hotel — the Strada and which will have 300 keys — at the community,'' said Rajendran. ''We will also be directly handling the primary retail component at Hartland.

''The two additional lines — education and hospitality — should sit well alongside our core real estate development activity going forward.

''In our non-India operations, real estate represents the major revenue generator followed by construction and wood works. The construction side of the business also helps with all of our in-house projects in maintaining a tight schedule on deliveries.''

Also read about UAE property companies which are unlikely to face financing problems

Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor,


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