“For us, 2018 was the toughest year, it was the most challenging year; we had probably the least amount of sales, least amount of construction.
“2019 so far has been good, it started, for some reason, to become really good in December 2018, we had more and more inquiries. We also internally restructured ourselves, so we are prepared for the market.”
“This year specifically is the year of construction for us,” he added. “We just delivered a building [in Healthcare City] and in the remainder of the year, only three months, we will be delivering around 1,000 units. Those deliveries are where the company is spending a lot of its efforts, we are not putting so much on sales and marketing.”
Entisar Tower has a provisional height of 720 metres, but Azizi said the company’s focus at the moment is otherwise on lower rise, lower density construction. For example, the large scale Riviera project at Meydan, Dubai, which will eventually feature 16,000 homes, will feature residential buildings of between six to eight floors.
Of the 75 buildings in Riviera, 35 are fully under construction, he said, with 90 per cent of the buildings purposed for residential use. The rest will be commercial, and will include a kindergarten, shops and medical services.
“One of the things that is growing big and trending is low density less people, less crowds,” he said.
Addressing rumours that the company had been experiencing liquidity issues, Azizi put them down to “dispirited” former staff whose jobs had become redundant during the extensive internal restructuring last year.
“We get audited by Deloitte. Our data is publicly available. The numbers will speak for themselves. We went through a big restructuring, every single department was restructured.
“When I have dispirited employees leaving the company, they are not going to say happy things about it. We went through a lot of changes in our projects. When you go through that, you cannot control everybody’s word of mouth, and we don’t want to, we can only control it with the facts.
He added that if anyone had any concerns they should speak to the Dubai Land Department, which has all the facts regarding the company.
“When you go through abrupt changes, there was a lot of changes, it was not easy. I cannot focus on the negative energy side of it,” he said.
However, he added that: “We are definitely not bulletproof; we get hurt when the market is slow or challenging.”
A relatively new initiative from Azizi has been a research department, launched in October 2018, which reports directly to the CEO and has helped the company better understand the requirements of the local property market.
The “mixed bag” of clients, with GCC-based customers being the largest group of investors, and Indians and Pakistanis making up the largest group of end users, means that market trends can be hard to predict, he said.
Geopolitical tensions lead to changes in the market that are also not always possible to predict, Azizi said. For instance, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union and the corresponding weakness of the pound meant that there were fewer UK buyers, he said.
He praised the new Higher Real Estate Committee, launched in the UAE earlier this month to address issues relating to oversupply in the property market, as something that will aid the maturing of the country’s property market.
“It impacts us in a good way. One of the things missing in this city is, there have to be certain controls in place. Having them in place is good for the market, and what is good for the market is good for us.”
(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; Editing by Brinda Darasha)
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