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Face to face: Karim Adi, Swiss Property

by Fatima De La Cerna on Nov 11, 2017

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In detailing the origin story of Swiss Property, Karim Adi quotes neither French military leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, nor 19th century playwright, Charles-Guillaume Étienne, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the principle behind the company’s founding echoes the spirit of the advice oft-credited to the two historical figures: “If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.”

Adi, chief executive officer of Swiss Property, tells Construction Week that when he first moved to Dubai four years ago, in 2013, he found himself on a frustrating hunt for a property that was right for him.

“I couldn’t find anything that I liked because most of the properties [available on the market] were very similar to each other, particularly in terms of finishing, and I wanted something different,” he recalls, revealing that the difficulty he encountered during his search ultimately led him to establish Swiss Property in 2014. “That’s when I started to consider setting up a real estate company.”

Armed with his background in finance – he worked as an equity trader for more than six years – and his personal experience as a property buyer, Adi carried out market research to discover what residents and expats like himself needed.

“I looked at, of course, demand and supply. I researched what people were really missing in Dubai,” he says.

When asked about what it was exactly that he was looking for, he offers an example by elaborating on his earlier point about finishing: “For instance, I love parquet, because it gives the room a cosy, comfortable, and warm [atmosphere]. But it’s very difficult to find an apartment in Dubai with parquet finishing. Most developments here have tiles.

“Another thing that I struggled with, and something that I know a lot of expats are struggling with as well, are storage rooms, or the lack thereof. There’s never enough storage space, so you end up [putting] your luggage in your wardrobe.”

Despite having been a player in the Dubai real estate sector for only three years, Swiss Property already has two residential projects to its name, both of which are in the development phase.

Located in Jumeirah Village Triangle, Park One is valued at around $16.3m (AED60m) and has a built-up area of 9,197m2 (99,000 square feet). It comprises 56 apartment units, as well as a rooftop swimming pool and barbecue area, a gym, a children’s playroom, a grocery store, basement parking for residents, and covered outdoor parking for guests.

Park One also comes with panoramic windows and metal, stone, and wood elements to create “warm, comfortable, and relaxing spaces”, according to Swiss Property.

Due for handover in Q1 2018, the project commenced construction in Q3 2016, with Dubai Walls Construction as the main contractor, Adi says, adding: “Park One is our first project. I wanted something that was on the affordable side, but high-quality and eco-friendly. It’s been designed, and certified, according to [Dubai] green building requirements.”

A considerably bigger project than Park One, La Reserve Residences is a partnership between Swiss Property and Dubai Healthcare City. With a projected cost of $136.1m (AED500m) and a built-up area spanning 83,613m2 (900,000 square feet), La Reserve will consist of 230 units, as well as amenities like lap and leisure pools, shaded pavilions, a running track, a gym, storage rooms, and basement parking for both residents and visitors.