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Home / INTERVIEWS / Profile: Mohammed Alabbar - The Dream Builder

Profile: Mohammed Alabbar - The Dream Builder

by Anil Bhoyrul on Jun 5, 2010


Emaar Retail has opened the region's first KidZania, which aims to promote physical and intellectual growth of children.
Emaar Retail has opened the region's first KidZania, which aims to promote physical and intellectual growth of children.
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It’s been a good year for Mohammed Alabbar. We’re barely into June and the charismatic chairman of Emaar has already delivered two of the biggest projects on the global stage.

The iconic Burj Khalifa tower opened in January, and four months later came the first ever Armani Hotel, built within the tower.

“When you start building something, you can either build the same boring environment or you can do more. What’s important is whether that single piece of stone is really affecting human life. Some things are very easy to do and some things are very hard. But that’s our job, we get it done,” he says.

Few could argue with him right now, particularly Emaar shareholders. Last month the property development company announced first quarter 2010 revenue of AED 2,886 million ($786 million), underpinned by the robust performance of the company’s hospitality and shopping mall subsidiaries.

This was an impressive 87 percent higher than the first-quarter 2009 revenue of AED 1,540 million ($419 million). Net operating profits for the first quarter of the year reached AED760 million ($207 million), 152 percent higher than the first-quarter 2009 net operating profit of AED302 million ($82 million).

But this, it seems, is just the beginning. Key construction contracts have been awarded in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia that will drive Emaar’s integrated community developments in these countries. “Several of these projects will be handed over this year, including homes in Egypt; and commercial offices in Syria at The Eighth Gate development,” says Alabbar.

While the likes of Syria’s Eighth Gate represent where the action will be later this year, it is the past few months that has really seen Alabbar and Emaar capture the headlines around the world. After many delays, the long awaited opening of the Burj Khalifa finally took place on January 4th.

From a construction standpoint the project broke almost every record there is to break, and the industry has universally agreed that the end product is indeed a world-beater on every count.

For Alabbar however, it marked the end of several years of being extremely hands-on, many sleepless nights and keeping and eye on practically every detail of the construction process.

“The only thing was I was anxious and impatient, then it was almost done and it was dusty and I wanted to see it shine, like a little boy. This is my global wonder that I want to enjoy. I am always looking. I was so lucky to be able to do this. There have been a few sleepless nights, problems with contractors and quality issues that we had. Things we agreed on and in reality they don’t look good.

“The hardest thing is the ability to deliver it and not compromise on quality – especially the finishes and installation,” he says.

On January 5th, as the big clean up was underway following the spectacular fireworks display to mark the opening of the Burj Khalifa, Alabbar was back at his desk planning the next “biggie”. It happened to be in the Burj Khalifa tower again, as the finishing touches were being put to the first Armani Hotel in Dubai.



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