Sunday, December 16, 2012

My DAMAC Properties Interview

DAMAC Properties is one of the leading real estate developers in the Middle East. Its real estate projects are some of the finest and most cutting edge I have ever seen and the company has great integrity. DAMAC Properties was established in 2002 as a private residential, leisure and commercial developer in Dubai and the rest of the Middle East. In this interview I conducted with Mr. Niall McLoughlin, Senior Vice President, DAMAC Properties, we will cover a full range of interesting topics.

BRETT SIEGEL: One of my favorite developments in Dubai International Financial Centre is DAMAC's Park Towers. How has Park Towers been doing since its completion?

MR. MCLOUGHLIN: Park Towers is one of the most iconic projects we have completed and stands proud in the heart of the Dubai International Financial Centre. As winner of the ‘Best Mixed-Use Development’ at the International Property Awards it is not only a symbol of luxury and quality in Dubai, but across the world. The two towers were completed almost a year ago now and we have been delighted by the response from the residents, who enjoy living in one of the most vibrant and thriving districts in Dubai. Each tower is 49 storeys high, and offers exquisitely designed one, two and three bedroom apartments.

BRETT SIEGEL: I am very enthused about all the development going on at Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi. Give us some details about what DAMAC is doing on Al Reem Island.

MR. MCLOUGHLIN: DAMAC Properties has two projects on Al Reem Island. The first, Marina Bay, was completed at the end of September 2012. We are now in the process of handing over the 24-storey tower which has exquisite views of the canal that connects the entire development. It is a huge milestone for us as Marina Bay is our first completed project in Abu Dhabi.

We are also making good progress on Oceanscape, our second project on Al Reem Island. Oceanscape will occupy a prime position on the water's edge at Al Reem Island offering residents uninterrupted views of the sea. The development also includes exclusive sea-facing townhouses above the podium level and with retail space over three levels.

BRETT SIEGEL: DAMAC Properties' Ocean Heights Tower in Dubai Marina has to be one of the most beautiful residential towers in the world. What was the inspiration behind the development of Ocean Heights?

MR. MCLOUGHLIN: Ocean Heights, another project which is already completed, is one of our most sought after towers. Blessed with amazing views over the Palm Jumeirah on the entrance to Dubai Marina, the tower spirals skywards, creating a dramatically different view from every angle of the apartment. The inspiration was to bring the peaceful ambiance of the marina to the luxury living of the apartment.

BRETT SIEGEL: To say that Qatar is booming would be an understatement. What projects does DAMAC Properties have lined up for Qatar?

MR. MCLOUGHLIN: We are working on a number of highly anticipated projects in the Lusail district of Doha, Qatar. The Piazza is a large development of Italian-style low-residential and office developments, which are set to be completed as early as the middle of 2013. The four-storey developments will hand over next year in one of the most desirable areas in the Qatari capital.

Business Square, a 20-storey mixed use high-end luxury development is scheduled for 2014.

We have seen a strong uptake for all three of the mixed use developments under construction in the iconic Lusail City. Our projects in Qatar are dominating the enquiries coming in to our overseas offices; comfortably rising ten-fold since Qatar was selected to host the World Cup. Business Square, the Piazza One and Two are all progressing at a good pace and are already close to selling out.

BRETT SIEGEL: Saudi Arabia is rapidly going to the forefront of real estate development in the Middle East. How is DAMAC's Al Jawharah Tower in Jeddah progressing?

MR. MCLOUGHLIN: Al Jawharah in Jeddah is making great progress and is already becoming an iconic tower on the skyline overlooking the Red Sea. We have now passed the 32nd floor of the tower that will eventually stretch 48 floors into the sky. The project recently won the ‘Outstanding Development of the Year’ Award in the GCC from The Big Project and was also highly commended, for the second year in a row, at the International Property Awards in the Residential High-Rise Development’ category and ‘Best Interior Design’ category for the partnership with Versace Home.

Work was recently completed on the Versace Home designed dedicated lobby to the DAMAC Residences.

We are working closely with Versace Home to develop ‘The DAMAC Residences’, a distinguished interior design concept for the top ten floors of the project that will produce the most exclusive residential apartments in the Kingdom.

Apartments of one, two or three bedroom homes are expected to be delivered by the last quarter of 2013. The DAMAC Residences project, with its limited release Versace Home designed interiors, is anticipated to be completed by the second quarter of 2014.

BRETT SIEGEL: Tell us more about the Overseas Property Professionals Excellence Awards that DAMAC was given.

MR. MCLOUGHLIN: We were delighted receive the Developer of the Year Award for the Middle East at this year’s Overseas Property Professionals (OPP) Excellence Awards. The OPP Excellence Awards in London brought together 300 of the leading figures in the global property market from more than 20 different countries. The Best Developer in the Middle East award was selected by a panel of highly experienced judges from across the world.

BRETT SIEGEL: It’s good to see that real estate development in Dubai is once again on an upswing and the recent announcement of the Mohammed Bin Rashid City Mega Project is particularly upbeat. What is DAMAC's view of the future of the Dubai real estate industry?

MR. MCLOUGHLIN: Dubai’s property market will grow at a steadier and more stable pace over the next year. There will be solid investment opportunities. Independent reports have put the growth in prices of real estate in Dubai through 2012 at anywhere from 7-19 percent, depending on location and the quality of the project. In 2013 buyers will definitely be able to benefit from this capital growth, but will need to be smart about where they invest and in which projects in each area.

Location will remain key with projects in areas which already have solid infrastructure and these projects will continue to drive a premium, but there will also be great investment opportunities in the projects where infrastructure is just underway. As this completes these projects will grow in value significantly.

Overall there has not been a better time to invest in the Dubai real estate market in the past four years. The increases in business and tourism coming to Dubai will make it one of the most lucrative real estate markets in the world in 2013.

BRETT SIEGEL: Tell us about some exciting new projects in the DAMAC pipeline.

MR. MCLOUGHLIN: We currently have 65 buildings at various stages of progress across the Middle East and North Africa, so there is a great deal of development underway.

Some of the projects that are coming online next year in the Hotel Serviced Apartments sector are highly anticipated. Burjside Boulevard, in the Burj Area of Dubai, will be our first luxury serviced apartment offering and providing five-star concierge services throughout – offering some of the highest luxury we have ever brought to the market.

We think serviced apartments will prove very popular as this is currently an under-served sector in Dubai. Owners will be able to enjoy their property and the services that go with it, or if they are away for any period of time, we will add it to our rental pool and manage the whole process of finding tenants and collecting rent. It is the most flexible investment opportunity we have offered.

BRETT SIEGEL: Thank you for this interview Mr. McLoughlin and I know DAMAC Properties will continue to develop superlative real estate projects throughout the Middle East!


DAMAC Properties Co. LLC
P.O Box 2195
Dubai, UAE
Tel: +971 4 373 1000
Fax: +971 4 373 1001
Toll Free: 800 32622 (UAE only)
Web: http://www.damacproperties.com/

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