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Top 50 GCC Developers 2016: 1-10

Welcome to Construction Week’s 2016 ranking of the most active developers in the GCC. The following list recognises the individuals who are driving construction in the Gulf, delivering projects and planning communities for generations to come

Ali Rashid Lootah, Chairman, Nakheel.
Ali Rashid Lootah, Chairman, Nakheel.
Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman, Emaar Properties.
Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman, Emaar Properties.
HE Mohamed Al Mubarak, CEO, Aldar Properties.
HE Mohamed Al Mubarak, CEO, Aldar Properties.
HE Abdulla Ahmed Al Habbai, Group Chairman, Meraas.
HE Abdulla Ahmed Al Habbai, Group Chairman, Meraas.
Hesham Al Qassim, CEO, Wasl Asset Management.
Hesham Al Qassim, CEO, Wasl Asset Management.
Ziad El Chaar, Managing Director, Damac Properties.
Ziad El Chaar, Managing Director, Damac Properties.
Talal moafaq al Gaddah, CEO, MAG Property Development.
Talal moafaq al Gaddah, CEO, MAG Property Development.
Ahmed AlHatti, Chairman, Cayan Group.
Ahmed AlHatti, Chairman, Cayan Group.
PNC Menon, Chairman, Sobha Group.
PNC Menon, Chairman, Sobha Group.
Abdulla M Lahej, CEO, Dubai Properties Group.
Abdulla M Lahej, CEO, Dubai Properties Group.

01. Ali Rashid Lootah, Chairman, Nakheel

Ali Rashid Lootah, chairman of Nakheel, has secured the top spot on Construction Week’s Top 50 GCC Developers 2016 list, owing to a particularly busy 12 months.

In 2016, the Dubai-based developer has inked a $390m (AED1.4bn) construction contract for The Palm Gateway; a $1m (AED4m) agreement for the development of a sewage treatment plant on Deira Islands; $409m (AED1.5bn) worth of district cooling deals with Empower; a $408m (AED1.5bn) contract for Al Khail Avenue; a $32m (AED117.5m) agreement for the development of a showroom complex in Dragon City; and a $51m (AED187m) deal for the construction of 133 homes in Nad Al Sheba.

Nakheel has also launched a dizzying array of projects during the past year, including its $1.3bn (AED4.78bn) 20-tower community, Deira Islands Boulevard. The 15.3km2 waterfront city will feature 16 residential buildings, two hotels, and two serviced apartment complexes.

Despite the region’s challenging construction environment, Nakheel has recorded some impressive financials of late. The developer achieved a net profit of $803m (AED2.95bn) in H1 2016, representing a 4% increase compared to the figure of $770m (AED2.83bn) posted during the first half of last year.

Nakheel handed over 1,177 units to customers during the first six months of 2016, with its retail, residential leasing, and hospitality businesses all performing strongly. At the midpoint of 2016, it had approximately 111ha of leasable retail space and 19,000 residential leasing units under development across Dubai.

Commenting at the time, Lootah said: “Our encouraging half-year results reflect investor confidence in Dubai and its real estate sector. Over the next six months, we will build on these positive figures with further improvements and better results, as we continue with our strategy of creating more cash-generating assets and strengthening our asset base.”

In addition, the developer was declared debt-free following the full repayment of a $1.1bn (AED4.4bn) trade creditor sukuk, which matured on 25 August, 2016.

02. Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman, Emaar Properties

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, had a tempestuous start to 2016, owing to the much-publicised New Year’s Eve blaze at The Address Downtown Dubai.

A lesser developer may have become distracted by an incident of this nature, but Alabbar and his team reacted in the best possible way: by dealing with the problem in a timely manner, and pushing ahead with a series of other megaprojects.

Perhaps most notable among these is The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour, a 928m-tall skyscraper that will be approximately 100m taller than Emaar’s current world-record holder, Burj Khalifa.

In addition, this year saw the inauguration of Emaar’s 1,901-capacity Dubai Opera, with an opening night performance from Placido Domingo on 31 August, 2016.

The developer achieved a net profit of $674m (AED2.4bn) in H1 2016, a 12% year-on-year increase compared to the $600m (AED2.2bn) figure recorded for the first six months of 2015. Its H1 2016 revenue was $1.9bn (AED7.2bn), which was 11% higher than the $1.7bn (AED6.5bn) posted during the first half of last year.

Earlier this month, Alabbar and his team announced Emaar’s newest megaproject in Dubai South. With interconnecting tree-lined boulevards, walking and bicycle trails, and a public transport network of autonomous vehicles, the 700ha Emaar South development will feature 15,000 homes, a selection of hospitality and retail outlets, and an 18-hole golf course.

03. HE Mohamed Al Mubarak, CEO, Aldar Properties

HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi-headquartered Aldar Properties, has enjoyed strong performance in the UAE’s property market during the past year.

Aldar has launched projects at key destinations across its home emirate, including Yas Island, Al Raha Beach, and Shams Abu Dhabi.

HE Al Mubarak tells Construction Week: “We focus on delivering the right product to the right audience at the right time.”

Following the success of its 23.2ha Yas Mall development, which attracted more than 20 million visitors in 2015, Aldar announced Yas Acres. Located on Yas Island, the $1.63bn (AED6bn) golf and waterfront development consists of 1,315 villas and townhouses, ranging from two to six bedrooms; a nine-hole golf course and country club; schools; mosques; retail outlets; and a yacht club and marina. Approximately 90% of Yas Acres’ first two precincts have been sold since the development’s April 2016 launch.

In addition, HE Al Mubarak and his team launched Mayan in late 2015. The development’s apartments and villas will be set alongside Yas Links Golf Club and Yas Beach.

“[Aldar’s other] residential development projects on Yas Island include West Yas and Ansam, all of which are key to Yas Island’s role in shaping the new Abu Dhabi,” HE Al Mubarak continues.

“Residential construction activities continue to progress at all of these developments, and we are eagerly looking forward to [their] completion.”

In H1 2016, Aldar’s gross profit from recurring revenue grew by 12%, compared to the corresponding period of 2015. Its net profit, meanwhile, saw a 9% year-on-year rise during the first six months of 2016.

“Off-plan sales for the first six months of the year exceeded $540m (AED2bn), driven by strong demand for Yas Acres and Mayan,” notes HE Al Mubarak.

“[This] demonstrates the solid demand we are seeing for our products.

“We are very pleased with these results, as they underline the strength and resilience of our business and our strategy,” he adds.

04. HE Abdulla Ahmed Al Habbai, Group Chairman, Meraas

It’s been an exciting year for HE Abdulla Ahmed Al Habbai, group chairman of Meraas. The UAE-headquartered developer has continued to push ahead with a raft of high-profile projects, especially in its home emirate of Dubai.

The company’s current project portfolio includes a number of large-scale developments, such as Bluewaters, City Walk, and Dubai Parks and Resorts (DPR).

The latter – an entertainment and leisure development that will include Legoland Dubai, Motiongate Dubai, and Bollywood Parks Dubai, among numerous other venues – is scheduled to open on 31 October, 2016.

DPR is set to become the Middle East’s largest theme park development, with a broad selection of complementary retail, dining, and hospitality options. In addition to its three flagship theme parks, the destination will include Legoland Water Park, Riverland Dubai, and Lapita Dubai.

The past 12 months have also seen a diverse array of launches from Al Habbai and his colleagues, including City Walk’s The Green Planet – a development that boasts the Middle East’s first ‘bio-dome’. The eco-minded structure, which has been designed to recreate a tropical rainforest, is home to more than 3,000 plants and animals.

05. Hesham Al Qassim, CEO, Wasl Asset Management

Hesham Al Qassim, chief executive officer of wasl Asset Management, has spent the last 12 months working to deliver “thoroughly modern and attractive lifestyles for Dubai’s residents and visitors” through a diverse range of real estate projects.

“A prime example of wasl’s strategy to revitalise districts and transform them into modern, contemporary neighbourhoods are the wasl Duet and wasl Hub developments in Karama,” Al Qassim tells Construction Week. “These projects have added to the area a total of more than 393 units of a range of different sizes, featuring modern amenities and facilities.”

Meanwhile, located in Muhaisnah, wasl Oasis II has been created to cater to the middle-income demographic, with 1,244 residential units spread across 23 buildings.

The developer’s upcoming projects include wasl 51, a luxurious 140-villa, mixed-use development in Dubai’s Jumeirah area.

In 2015, wasl launched four major projects, worth approximately $10.9bn (AED40bn), to be completed over the course of the next decade. Between 2017 and 2020, the company plans to deliver residential, commercial, industrial, and hospitality and leisure developments with a combined value of $4.76bn (AED17.5bn).

06. Ziad El Chaar, Managing Director, Damac Properties

Ziad El Chaar, managing director of Damac Properties, has had a mixed 12 months. Although the Dubai-based developer’s profits have witnessed year-on-year falls, it is still firmly in the black.

In H1 2016, Damac’s net profit saw a 27% slide compared to the corresponding period of last year. Nevertheless, the developer still recorded a healthy $517m (AED1.9bn) net profit during the first six months of the year, and its revenue for the same period stood at $898m (AED3.3bn).

The company’s total assets had increased to $6.4bn (AED23.5bn) by 30 June, 2016, from $6.37bn (AED23.5bn) as of 31 December, 2015. Its cash and bank balances stood at $2.3bn (AED8.8bn) at the midpoint of 2016, while its property developments were recorded at $2.5bn (AED9.5bn).

As of last month, Damac had 44,000 units, worth an approximate combined value of $20bn (AED73bn), under construction.

Launched in October 2013, Akoya by Damac is one of the largest projects in the developer’s current portfolio. Located off Umm Suqeim Road in Dubailand, the 390ha community features an 18-hole championship golf course within Trump International Golf Club. It is surrounded by villas, townhouses, apartments, and associated amenities. The golf course has been completed, and the handover of 800 to 900 villas is iminent, according to El Chaar.

Speaking to Construction Week about progress at the site, he explained: “All that has happened in this area, which was a desert [and] filled with sand, was built in two and a half years.

“To move quicker, we have a huge number of contractors working at Akoya. With one contractor, you have the risk of delays. Though dividing the [development] puts more pressure on construction management, it makes you work faster with less risk.”

07. Talal Moafaq al Gaddah, CEO, MAG Property Development

Talal Moafaq Al Gaddah, chief executive officer of MAG Property Development (MAG PD), is in an enviable position at present. His company has delivered approximately $1.36bn (AED5bn) worth to date, and has the same value under development.

MAG PD’s portfolio consists of 12 projects across the UAE, and additional developments that have yet to be announced.

Al Gaddah tells Construction Week: “We have a mixed portfolio of projects underway, which are being delivered either by MAG PD or [in conjunction] with our partners IGO [Invest Group Overseas] and Shoumous Group. Our developments are residential, leisure, commercial and logistics, and future wellness.”

During the past 12 months, MAG PD has delivered its Polo Townhouses and Polo Residences projects, both of which are situated in Dubai’s Meydan City. The developer’s commercial warehouses complex, situated in the emirate’s Al Quoz area, is also nearing completion.

Meanwhile, Al Gaddah and his team are pushing ahead with MAG 5 Boulevard, a 4.65ha housing community designed for middle-income buyers in the UAE. With prices starting from $107,700 (AED395,555), around 90% of sales for Phase 1 of the project have now closed. The handover of MAG 5 Boulevard’s initial phase is due to commence in Q4 2018.

In terms of long-term vision, MAG PD recently launched MAG of Life, a new division focused on sustainable quality-of-life projects.

“The global market for wellness and consumer healthcare is worth $502bn (AED1.84tn), and is set to grow to almost $737bn (AED2.7tn) over the next five years,” Al Gaddah explains.

“With MAG of Life, this is the market we are tapping into, and these are the consumers [for whom] we are developing [the] homes of the future. We will focus first on functionality and wellbeing, which will come with our world-class design.

“MAG customers will have the best of both worlds: great quality homes that will support their health and wellbeing. This is a first for the UAE and the region,” he concludes.

08. Ahmed AlHatti, Chairman, Cayan Group

Ahmed Alhatti, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Cayan Group, has spent the last year developing on two fronts: in his home country and in the neighbouring UAE.

His current priorities include the development of new product categories under Cayan Hospitality, such as LivNordic Spa & Fitness, which opened at Dubai’s Cayan Tower in May 2016. The developer is also looking to enter new markets outside of the GCC, such as Lebanon and Spain.

At present, the firm’s three largest sectors are residential, commercial, and hospitality.

Cayan Group’s recently completed Layaly Compound, a residential complex located in Riyadh’s Jasmine neighbourhood, consists of 60 villas. Commenting on the project, Alhatti tells Construction Week: “Layaly Compound’s villas [have been designed] in three different styles, perfect for the modern lifestyles of families.

“We are proud to have brought such a project to Riyadh, and we are very encouraged by the response it has received from the market. As a result, we are now working on a larger mixed-use residential compound, the Samaya. Also nearing completion is the commercial CMC Tower in Riyadh,” reveals Alhatti.

Cayan Group’s $270m (SAR1bn) Samaya complex occupies a plot of 100ha in Riyadh’s Erga area. Meanwhile, outside of the kingdom, the company is pushing ahead with Cayan Cantara, Alhatti and his team’s first combined hospitality development for the UAE.

Alhatti comments: “We expect the largest opportunity in the GCC to be hospitality-driven development projects, as there are upcoming [global] events such as Expo 2020 in Dubai, and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

“[Events like these] promise to lure scores of people to the area, and continued economic diversification plans, which include an expansion of the tourist industry, make the hospitality sector an attractive strategy and investment.

“Similarly, the challenges facing the GCC countries will be the development of adequate infrastructure to accommodate such large crowds,” he adds.

09. PNC Menon, Chairman, Sobha Group

PNC Menon, chairman of Sobha Group, has significantly ramped up his company’s development activities during the past 12 months.

Aside from Sobha Group’s existing large-scale UAE developments – Sobha Hartland and District One – the firm is planning to push ahead with two additional projects that boast a combined land area of 1,000ha.

Between 1 August, 2015, and 31 July, 2016, Sobha Group completed 111 real estate projects worldwide, across markets such as the Middle East, India, Brunei, and France. The firm estimates that it has $12bn (AED44bn) worth of UAE mixed-use urban community projects underway, including Sobha Hartland and Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City (MBR City) District One.

It is encouraging to note that Menon is also optimistic about the future. He explains: “Dubai’s property sector is projected to see a ramp up in 2018. Expo 2020 may be four years away, but it is surely going to have [a positive] impact on the emirate’s real estate market.”

10. Abdulla M Lahej, CEO, Dubai Properties Group

Dubai Properties’ chief executive officer, Abdulla M Lahej, says that his company is helping to lead a resurgence within its emirate’s real estate market.

“We have a deep commitment to Dubai, and we work closely with the government and select partners to ensure that all our destinations are developed to complement the long-term vision of the emirate,” he tells Construction Week.

From 1 August, 2015 to 31 July, 2016, Dubai Properties delivered Phase 1 and Phase 2 of its Mudon development, a master-planned residential community in Dubailand.

Meanwhile, the company’s under-development Marasi Business Bay project looks set to offer a yachting destination in addition to water homes and floating restaurants.

“At its heart, the project is about offering the city new and exciting public spaces, which contribute to the happiness of residents and visitors,” Lahej explains.


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