Abu Dhabi-based developer Nine Yards, a joint venture Ethmar International Holding and Al Nahda International Holding Group will soon award the enabling and main construction contracts for its two billion UAE dirhams ($544.53 million) waterfront project at Yas Bay on Yas Island, Ahmed Selet, Chief Executive Officer, Nine Yards, told Zawya Projects.

Ahmed Selet, Chief Executive Officer, Nine Yards
Ahmed Selet, Chief Executive Officer, Nine Yards
Ahmed Selet, Chief Executive Officer, Nine Yards

Sea La Vie, designed by architectural and engineering consultancy firm MZ Architects, will have 668 luxury housing units and is slated for handover in 2026.

The developer has two to three projects in the pipeline in the UAE, and is exploring opportunities both regionally and internationally, Selet revealed.

Nine Yards is a joint partnership between Ethmar International Holding and Al Nahda International Holding Group. 

Excerpts from the interview with Ahmed Selet

What market factors compelled you to launch Sea La Vie in Abu Dhabi?

The world is returning to business after more than two years of grappling with the COVID pandemic. The UAE proved itself to be one of the most resilient nations in terms of economic recovery from COVID, while the rest of the world is still recovering. Thanks to its quick-thinking, innovative and visionary leadership, the UAE is leading the world as a future-proof nation. Therefore, there is no better time to launch this project.

The real estate market in Abu Dhabi and the rest of UAE is witnessing a massive increase in demand from local, regional and international buyers and investors, with luxury-minded customers showing an interest in buying properties.

With Sea La Vie, we offer interested buyers precisely that - a vibrant community at one of the most sought-after destinations on Yas Island. 

Finally, the government’s incentives have been amazing, with golden visa grants, ease of doing business, more relaxed labour and family laws, and more visa options for foreigners - the options are endless.

Could you share more details on Sea La Vie? When do you intend to start construction?

Sea La Vie will span a total land area of approximately 30,000 square metres, and offer 668 luxury residential units, including 1 to 4-bedroom apartments, lofts, townhouses, duplexes and penthouses.

We will be awarding the enabling followed by main contract works soon.

The handover is scheduled for 2026, three years from now.

What will be the sustainable elements of this project? 

Sea La Vie’s architect is MZ Architects, a firm led by Marwan Zgheib. They have designed prominent projects with a commitment to utilising sustainable systems and methods and integrating aesthetics without compromising on cultural and historical significance.

We are determined to incorporate sustainable practices through Sea La Vie’s development, construction and maintenance phases of its life cycle to actively contribute to UAE’s pursuit of achieving global net-zero targets.

We plan to localise the supply chain wherever possible, generating ‘in-country-value’ from breaking ground to handing over the keys, minimising CO2 emissions every step of the way.

Most importantly, materials and sustainable elements of every aspect of the residential towers will be strictly in compliance with Estidama and LEED for Homes.

What are the biggest challenges you see in the coming years?

The biggest challenge is inflation. Globally, inflation raises the cost of construction, making off-plan properties more expensive. This becomes a hurdle for homebuyers because their power to spend or rent weakens, especially those who have to make mortgage payments. Additionally, inflation can also eat up one’s savings. That’s why individuals need to diversify their investments and spread out their savings to hedge against inflation and other unforeseen circumstances.

We encourage investors and homebuyers to put their money into diversified real assets, such as real estate. Through property investment, the value will appreciate over time. Property owners can choose to generate recurring income by renting out the property or by profiting from the value of the investment by selling the property once it has been handed over and the value has appreciated.

The UAE has consistently topped global rankings in terms of a safe haven to live, work, invest and thrive. Abu Dhabi’s economy is one of the most proven resilient worldwide, especially during turbulent times.

Are you looking at launching new projects in the UAE this year?

Yes, we have two or three projects in the pipeline.

Are there plans to enter other markets in the Middle East?

We are planning to expand into buoyant markets and one of those is Dubai. We are also exploring opportunities both regionally and internationally. UAE provides us with a strong base to look for opportunities elsewhere.

The construction industry faces headwinds regarding rising interest rates and persisting supply chain challenges concerning construction materials. What steps have you taken to overcome these obstacles?

Rising interest rates impact many economic sectors, not just construction and real estate. This is why we have chosen to be extremely diligent with our partners who we are choosing to work with. Through partnerships with well-established companies, we are assured that we will not face any obstacles to delivering the planned best-in-class projects.

What is your outlook on Abu Dhabi’s real estate market?

Similar to all other forecasts by consultancy firms that cover the real estate sector, we foresee that the UAE in 2023 will enjoy steady growth. The sector in the country is resilient and will thrive despite macroeconomic volatilities impacting the global real estate landscape.

(Reporting by P Deol; Editing by Anoop Menon)