Home / INTERVIEWS / Face to face: Fred Durie, Nshama

Face to face: Fred Durie, Nshama

by Jumana Abdel-Razzaq on Nov 18, 2017

fred Durie, Nshama.
fred Durie, Nshama.

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Developers must be creative when dealing with today’s regional property market, especially given the saturated conditions and greater competition that have made the sector a challenging one in 2017.

In spite of affordable housing being a much-needed option in the property segment, developers continue to launch luxury residential projects across the UAE – in an already crowded market. In fact, there are only around 800,000 affordable homes in development in Dubai, and very few “inventive” options in the mid-market segment, according to Fred Durie, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Dubai-based property developer, Nshama.

In light of this, the company has decided to bring to the city a brand new “co-living and co-working” concept that aims to change the face of the property game in the region. Nshama’s mixed-use UNA property, according to Durie, adopts a new model that will offer a fresh concept for the market and allow Nshama to provide another affordable option to its customer base.

“UNA is based on the co-living concept. It is something new to Dubai that is already very popular in England, Japan, and in Europe, [allowing] people to come together to socialise,” he says.

Announced in October of this year, UNA is a mid-market residential building that will incorporate digital and commercial features to deliver a fully interactive space that addresses the business and leisure requirements of both residents and visitors.

The project will have two ground-level lobbies as part of a G+11-storey building, with 478 residential units comprised of studios and one-bedroom apartments.

In addition, UNA will feature a licensed co-working space within a 2,000m2, digitised, all-purpose lobby lounge that includes work stations, a music room, a communal smart TV, a reading space, and creative zones.

Above all, the concept is essentially targeted at the millennial generation and their lifestyle, offering “the means for customers to engage in the space in which they live”. Other amenities include Wi-Fi, meeting rooms, entertainment and recreation areas, a business centre, a swimming pool, a gymnasium, retail stores, restaurants, cafés, a supermarket, and laundry and dry-cleaning services.

“I’ve been to [a development similar to this one] in Manchester, which is very popular. We visited a few [similar projects] before we launched ours, just to make sure we were on the right track, and our [concept] is as good as anything I’ve seen [abroad],” Durie adds.

As property market conditions continue to soften, and with competition in the sector having grown the past year, Nshama decided to employ a new approach: “We thought we’d bring something new to the market. In March 2015, the [sector] was very quiet, so we introduced our compact town homes, which were affordable – targeting people earning  $4,000 to $8,000 (AED15,000 to AED30,000) a month.

“This will allow people to actually transfer from renting to owning [a property], and UNA is just an extension of that,” he says.

Construction on UNA will begin in January 2018 and is scheduled to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2020.