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CW Awards 2015: Developer of the Year revealed

The inaugural Developer of the Year Award was presented at the Construction Week Awards 2015, but who was the lucky recipient?

Chief executive officer HE Hesham Al Qassim accepted the Developer of the Year Award at last night’s Construction Week Awards 2015.
Chief executive officer HE Hesham Al Qassim accepted the Developer of the Year Award at last night’s Construction Week Awards 2015.

wasl Asset Management was named Developer of the Year at the Construction Week Awards 2015.

The Editorial Choice award represents a brand new category for the event, which took place last night in Dubai, UAE.

wasl was selected as Construction Week’s first ever Developer of the Year due to its ongoing work to develop land and properties across a diverse range of sectors, including industrial, commercial, leisure, and residential.

At Cityscape Global 2015, the Dubai-based developer announced four major projects – of which three were freehold – with a total value of $10.8bn (AED39.67bn).

HE Hesham Al Qassim, chief executive officer of wasl, accepted the prize on behalf of his team.

In comments made after the award was presented, Al Qassim told Construction Week: "Since its establishment in 2003, wasl has focused on developments within the property, hospitality, and industrial [fields]. In terms of property, we have developed projects across all market segments – not only luxury units, but also properties for mid- and lower-income individuals.

"wasl has built high-end villas, staff accommodation, labour accommodation – we build across the spectrum. In 2007, we had a portfolio of 7,000 units. Today, we have 35,000 units, and we plan to develop a further 10,000 units up to 2020. And these figures only relate to our property arm," he explained.

The Dubai-headquartered developer also has plans to extend its hospitality portfolio in the run up to Expo 2020. Al Qassim continued: "In terms of hospitality, today wasl has 5,000 rooms under management. That is going to grow to 10,000 rooms by 2020, all in time for the Expo."

Owing to its position as a government-owned entity, affordable housing will continue to represent an important focus for wasl, according to Al Qassim.

"wasl is the asset management arm of Dubai's government, so we always align our strategy in accordance with the city's requirements. It's more than a corporate vision or a question of the iconic projects that we could produce. Instead, we look at where shortages exist and try to fill those gaps," he explained.

"Even at the peak in 2006 and 2007 – when every other developer was focusing on luxury projects – wasl identified a shortage in affordable homes. At that time, we took the decision to build 7,000 affordable units, which were ready by 2009. These homes were occupied in less than two months – just 60 days.

"This strategy is ongoing. This month, wasl will release 1,360 units which will again be affordable. In 2017, we plan to add another 2,500 affordable homes, and in 2018, we have an additional project that will consist of 2,600 affordable units," Al Qassim added.

Construction Week Awards 2015 was supported by Platinum Sponsors FAMCO and Arcadis, Gold Sponsors Liebherr GENAVCO, Nora, ALEC and Logical Contracting, Category Sponsors Projacs, Kone, Aecom, Atkins, Soprema and Brookfield Multiplex, Official Aluminium Extruder NAPCO, Supporting Association The Chartered Institute of Building, and Social Media Sponsor, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Full coverage of the event, including interviews with all of the awards winners, will be published in Construction Week on 19 December, 2015.

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