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An emphasis on time

Engineer Haydar Abdul Reda Mashhadi, general manager and co-founder, Al Madar Group, discusses why developers' obsession with marketing is harming the industry.

Al Madar Group WLL, INTERVIEWS, Business

Engineer Haydar Abdul Reda Mashhadi, general manager and co-founder, Al Madar Group, discusses why developers' obsession with marketing is harming the industry.

Can you tell me about Al Madar Group?

We were founded in Qatar 15 years ago as a real estate and contracting company. We now have our headquarters in Doha and two offices in Dubai.

We have finished more than 125 projects in GCC countries as a developer and have more than 2,000 employees working for us.

You are developing a number of projects in Dubai. What do you think are the main differences between Dubai and other parts of the GCC?

They started the freehold system in Dubai some time ago, which is a long way ahead of other countries.

Other GCC countries only started to take this opportunity a few years ago, so it takes time for developers to get to know the country.

The real estate market in Dubai is quite advanced and is known internationally as a place where you can build quite easily.

I think other GCC countries will become as well-known as Dubai within a few years, but it will take a little more time.

We are expecting a lot more work in these countries because there are more places that are freehold.

But although the market in Dubai is advanced, there seems to be too much emphasis on marketing.

Is this a problem?

I think so. At Al Madar, only 10% of our output is spent on marketing and sales. The other 90% is spent on delivering the project on time.

Other developers seem to spend 90% on marketing and sales, and maybe 10% on developing the project on time.

This means they have marketed their scheme very well, but then it will be delayed because they are not putting the right emphasis on the project.

I think many of these companies need to change the emphasis because it is not good for the industry.

How exactly will this harm the industry?

Dubai has gained an international reputation for delivering very big projects on time. If many of these projects are delayed the reputation won't be so good.

We have our own engineers at Al Madar who hold weekly meetings with contractors to make sure that the projects are delivered on time.

Because so many projects are not on time, if you can deliver on time then you can be very successful in the market.

We started about 15 years ago - this is quite a long time for the GCC - so we know that if the project is successful and the reputation is good, it will market itself.

Some developers only have about four or five years experience in GCC countries, so they do not have the experience whereby if you do not finish the job on time you will have problems.

Is it only the emphasis on marketing which is delaying some projects?

No. Some developers are not aware of the system in this region.

They don't know that the whole process takes time, because you need approval from the government, which takes at least six months, so they tend to fall behind which can harm reputation.

Are you finding any other difficulties with developing in Dubai?

Because we are renowned for producing high-quality buildings, we always try to get the best contractors. But it is hard to find a good contractor in Dubai.

Because there is such a boom in construction in the city, most of the good ones are extremely busy.

If you find a contractor that you can rely on once, when you go back to them they often say they are too busy. This means the quality of the building could suffer if you choose one which is not good.

Our projects are going well and are on schedule, so hopefully our reputation will mean we can always find a good contractor.

But other projects in Dubai are being delayed because of this shortage; it is a common occurrence.

Do you think Dubai will be able to maintain its pace of development?

Yes, but it is becoming more difficult in the city to find good locations for projects.

We have four projects in Dubai including a waterfront tower in Business Bay and one north of Dubailand, near to Mall Of The Emirates. These are prime locations, but it seems there are less and less of these available at the moment.

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