IFA gets back into development mode

Hubert R. Viriot / Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf NewsHubert R. Viriot / Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

IFA Hotels & Resorts is getting back into the development swing of things ... and it wants to do so fast. It has just announced a ‘Yotel’ - a cabin-style hotel concept - property in Business Bay and there is more to come.

“We’re also looking to announce the operator for the hotel apartment component of ‘The 8’, our latest residential resort project on the Palm,” said Hubert Viriot, CIO. “We should also be in a position to announce at least one other project on the Palm by year-end.

“IFA has an extensive land bank on the Palm Jumeirah and hope to be able to share news regarding its use in the near future. We also have several land bank in South Africa — in and around our award-winning Zimbali Coastal Resort — that are ready for development. We continuously look for new opportunities to grow our development portfolio in the Middle East and elsewhere.”

The uptick in activity comes after a relatively extended quiet period for the developer, when it was intent on completing on-hand projects rather than launch new ones. “That’s correct ... The focus post the financial crisis was indeed to hand over existing projects,” said Viriot. “This has been done with all our projects in Dubai, barring Kingdom of Sheba, which is currently under construction with a new contractor.

“We are close to being able to announce plans for Phase 2 of Kingdom of Sheba.”

Recently, it also made a full exit from the ‘Golden Mile’ development on the Palm after reaching a settlement with Nakheel. “The project is now wholly owned by Nakheel,” said Viriot. “We are delighted for the (Golden Mile) homeowners that the settlement has spurred on previously stagnated development in the retail and commercial areas.

“We think it’s a wonderful, iconic project and we were happy to be part of its development and were also happy to come to an agreement that had the homeowners’ best interests in mind.”

While it recommits to its development portfolio, IFA is maintaining a cautious watch on the funding needs. “We are closely monitoring the capital markets to fund our corporate growth, maximise our cost of funds and create value for our shareholders,” said Viriot. “Nevertheless, we are also preparing for a more volatile market in the short- to medium-term due to unpredictable commodity prices, Europe’s uncertain economic outlook and the US Federal Reserve likely to raise its benchmark interest rate.

“Managing our risk is thus fundamental.”


Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor, gulfnews.com


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