Top 50 GCC Developers: 1-10
Welcome to Construction Week’s Top 50 GCC Developers 2017, our annual ranking of the region’s most active real estate developers.
01. Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman, Emaar Properties
Few developers have captured the UAE’s attention as Emaar Properties has during the past year. The last 12 months have seen the company, led by chairman Mohamed Alabbar, reaching new heights in both the UAE’s and wider Gulf’s property markets.
This year started off with Emaar reporting $1.4bn (AED5.2bn) in net profit for 2016, 28% higher than 2015 net profits, worth $1.1bn (AED4.08bn). According to a company statement in February, the group’s backlog was valued at $11.7bn (AED42.9bn).
In the same month, Emaar launched Harbour Gate, a residential estate within the 6km2 Dubai Creek Harbour (DCH) master development. The project launch came only months after the company broke ground on the Dubai Creek Tower at DCH.
Dubai Creek Tower will be among the world’s tallest manmade structures upon its completion in 2020. At 928m, the building will be 100m taller than current record-holder, Burj Khalifa. Foundation works for the project were completed this March.
DCH is at the heart of Emaar’s long-term development plans. This August, Emaar awarded Al Naboodah Construction Group the main contract for DCH’s Creekside 18, a two-tower residential project. Later that month, sales were launched for 17 Icon Bay, a 43-storey residential tower, also in DCH.
Outside DCH, Emaar’s recent project launches include the Dubai Hills Mall, which upon completion in 2019 will offer 187,500m2 in gross leasable area; the Vida Dubai Mall, a hotel that will be linked to The Dubai Mall; and Golf Links, a community that will be developed at Emaar South, a lifestyle destination that Emaar is developing within Dubai South.
Financially too, the future looks bright for Emaar, which has revealed plans to sell 30% of its development business unit through an initial public offering.
In H1 2017, the company recorded a year-on-year net profit hike of 15%, to $772m (AED2.8bn). Commenting at the time, Alabbar said: “At every stage of development, we place emphasis on [creating] long-term value for our stakeholders.”
02. HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, CEO, Aldar Properties PJSC
Aldar Properties, put simply, is having a busy 2017. Led by HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, the Abu Dhabi-based developer launched two mid-market residential developments just months apart this year. The first was The Bridges, a six-tower, $353.9m (AED1.3bn) project on Reem Island, which was unveiled in April 2017. This was followed in September by Water’s Edge, a 2,255-unit, $653.4m (AED2.4bn) master-planned community on Yas Island. And both, it must be noted, have been enthusiastically received.
“The three towers [of The Bridges] that were released for sale have already sold out, and Aldar will incorporate the three remaining towers into its leased residential portfolio as part of its investment programme,” Al Mubarak says.
Water’s Edge, meanwhile, made a splash at Cityscape Global, where its first phase also sold out, generating a total of $109m (AED400m) in sales.
Moreover, Aldar has a slew of projects currently under construction, a few of which are expected to complete in the coming year. These include the sold-out Al Hadeel development on Al Raha Beach and the Al Merief project in Khalifa City, which has also sold out.
Talking about Aldar’s strategy for 2018, Al Mubarak reveals: “We will continue to focus on Abu Dhabi, monetising our land bank, optimising our capital structure, and growing our recurring revenues.”
03. Ali Rashid Lootah, Chairman, Nakheel
The first half of 2017 saw the Ali Rashid Lootah-led master developer, Nakheel, record a net profit of $718.8m (AED2.6bn) and award construction contracts worth almost $3bn (AED11bn). Those included a $1.1bn (AED4.2bn) contract for Deira Mall at Deira Islands and a $408.4m (AED1.5bn) contract for The Palm Gateway on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah.
During the same period, the company broke ground on new hotels with a combined value of $113.3m (AED416m) at Dragon City and Ibn Batutta Mall, as well as releasing a construction tender for the $182.5m (AED670m), 800-room Riu resort on Deira Islands.
Currently assessing 10 proposals for the construction of the Riu beachfront development, Nakheel expects to award the contract in Q4 2017 and have the project ready for delivery by 2020.
A joint venture between the developer and Spanish hospitality group, Riu Hotels & Resorts, the project marks Riu’s entry into the Middle East market and is one of 17 projects under Nakheel’s $ 1.4bn (AED5bn) hospitality expansion programme.
The master developer is also evaluating five proposals, with bids starting at $245m (AED900m), for the construction of Dragon Towers, its twin-building residential complex at Dragon City. According to Nakheel, it plans to award the contract by the end of the year and aims to complete the project in 2020.
04. Hussain Sajwani, Chairman, Damac Properties
Hussain Sajwani is optimistic about the UAE property market and Damac Properties’ position within it, despite noting that market conditions are undergoing changes as a result of “economic, financial, and geo-political factors”.
He tells Construction Week: “We’ve been seeing stabilisation in the UAE property market since the start of 2017, and our outlook remains positive. We remain dynamic and continue [to provide] products that suit changing market needs.”
Damac’s chief has reason to be upbeat, since it wrapped up 2016 with $1bn (AED3.7bn) in net profit and a 5% increase in total assets, which went up to $6.7bn (AED24.6bn) at the end of 2016 from $6.3bn (AED23.5bn) in 2015.
And in the first half of 2017, it recorded $435.5m (AED1.6bn) in net profit, with booked sales valued at $1.1bn (AED4bn).
The developer has also made progress on a number of its existing projects. According to Sajwani, between August 2016 and July 2017, the company completed Damac Tower in Beirut, which is a $236m (AED 866.9m) project spanning 31,737m2; and the $120m (AED440.8m) Damac Maison Bay’s Edge.
Furthermore, during the same period, the developer completed several clusters at the 3.9 million square-metre Damac Hills development, which comprises villas, apartments, and serviced residence units.
“[The] clusters completed had a value of $1.9bn (AED7bn),” adds Sajwani.
05. Hesham Al Qassim, Chief Executive Officer, wasl Asset Management Group
Hesham Al Qassim, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Dubai-headquartered wasl Asset Management Group, has had a productive run over the last 12 months. Between 1 August, 2016, and 31 July, 2017, the company completed six projects with a total built-up area (BUA) of 34.4ha. This includes wasl District, wasl Quartz, and wasl Topaz in Dubai’s Umm Hureir neighbourhood, in addition to the Umm Suqeim Villas, Jumeirah Plots A, B, and C Development, and Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Car Park projects.
The wasl Asset Management Group owns and manages more than 35,000 residential units, including villas, townhouses, and apartments in Dubai. Additionally, the company’s portfolio includes commercial property that it owns and manages, and community malls that it has developed, which feature more than 400 retail units. The group also owns 5,500 industrial plots across 27 zones in Dubai. The group’s hotels comprise 5,500 rooms, with 15 hospitality products currently in the pipeline. Upon their completion, wasl “will manage a total of 10,000 new rooms across 29 hotels”, Al Qassim tells Construction Week.
The semi-governmental entity, which operates as an investment arm of the Dubai government, is one of the UAE’s largest asset management companies, he adds. Between August 2017 and July 2018, wasl Asset Management Group is expecting the completion of 14 projects across the emirate, including Hampton by Hilton in Al Qusais, wasl district in Deira, a staff accommodation development in Muhaisnah, four hotel staff accommodation developments in Al Quoz, three projects in Karama, and two car holding facilities for Dubai Police. These developments span a total BUA of 37.5ha.
Four projects, worth $10.9bn (AED40bn), which the company launched in 2015, are due to be completed over the next 10 years, Qassim says, adding: “Over the next four years, wasl will deliver a number of residential, commercial, industrial, hospitality, and leisure projects, with a total value of more than $6.8bn (AED25bn).”
06. Talal Moafaq Al Gaddah, Chief Executive Officer, MAG Property Development
Talal Moafaq Al Gaddah, the chief executive officer of MAG Property Development (MAG PD), holds a positive outlook on the company’s growth prospects over the next 12 months.
Recent completions by MAG PD include Polo Townhouses and The Polo Residences, two themed communities in Dubai’s Meydan neighbourhood.
Gaddah says the developments’ designs “echo Meydan City’s unique equestrian roots”. In addition to these developments, MAG PD recently delivered MAG 214, MAG 218, and MAG 5 Residences, as well as warehouses in Al Quoz and Sharjah.
The Polo Residences is an equestrian-themed residential development spanning 15ha, worth $409m (AED1.5bn), while The Polo Townhouses, which is a 4ha private gated community, is valued at $110m (AED404m). Meanwhile, MAG PD’s warehouse in Dubai’s Al Quoz area, worth $105m (AED385.6m), spans 7.5ha, and the Sharjah unit, worth $100m (AED367.3m), spans 13ha.
By 31 July, 2018, MAG PD will deliver the 5.5ha MAG 5 Boulevard, worth $100m (AED367.3m); the 7.5ha Garden City by Shammas Villas, valued at $62m (AED227.7m); and infrastructure worth $10m (AED36.7m) for MAG Creek Wellbeing Resort, a collaboration between MAG of Life – its wellness real estate division – and Delos, a New York-based company. A mixed-use wellness resort, MAG Creek Wellbeing Resort features 17 waterfront homes designed by Italian architect Carlo Colombo, in addition to 75 luxury apartments, 172 serviced wellness holiday homes, a Worldcare Wellness Centre outlet, a 95-room hotel, and dining, retail, and leisure options.
Gaddah tells Construction Week that MAG PD’s plans for the next 12 months are aimed at delivering “real estate for every socio-economic need in the city”.
He continues: “We are also focussing on our division, MAG of Value. Aimed at developing what we call value homes, MAG of Value blends quality real estate, planned community living, and honest returns on investment (ROI) options.”
07. HE Abdulla Ahmed Mohammed Al Habbai, Group Chairman, Meraas
Meraas, led by HE Abdulla Ahmed Mohammed Al Habbai, has a busy 2018 to look forward to, with several projects due for completion, including the 168-apartment Bulgari Residences on Jumeirah Bay Island and two new hotels located at Bluewaters, the developer’s mixed-use, man-made island development.
Meraas’s Bluewaters Island is also home to 10 apartment buildings and 17 townhouses, which are similarly expected to complete next year, and the landmark-in-the-making Ain Dubai, previously called Dubai-I.
More than 210m tall, Ain Dubai is set to become the tallest and largest observation wheel in the world.
08. Abdullah Bin Lahej, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Properties
With Abdulla bin Lahej at the helm, Dubai Properties delivered more than 3,000 residential units in 2016. These include 2,900 units in Dubailand and 124 units in Dubai Wharf.
Meanwhile, this year has seen the company draw attention to its projects within the Business Bay master plan. In early September, the first batch of Dubai Properties’ water homes arrived from Finland to berth at Marasi Business Bay.
The developer has also launched Riverside, a 420-unit residential building. It is the first of the four Marasi towers that Dubai Properties intends to develop within Business Bay, on the banks of the Dubai Water Canal.
09. PNC Menon, Founder and Chairman, Sobha Group
Sobha Group, founded by PNC Menon, currently has 76 residential and contractual projects underway, including two huge ventures in Dubai: the $4bn Sobha Hartland mixed-use development and the 445ha District One project, valued at $8bn and located in Mohammed bin Rashid City.
While it may seem like the group has enough on its plate, Menon’s brainchild actually has more projects in the pipeline.
“Sobha Group – in addition to […] Sobha Hartland and District One – is planning to develop two large-scale developments with a combined land area of 10 million square metres in the UAE,” reveals Menon.
10. Rahail Aslam, Chief Executive Officer, Select Group
UAE-based Select Group has more than 46ha of prime residential portfolio under construction, and group chief executive officer (CEO), Rahail Aslam, says the timely delivery of these projects “is a key priority” for the company.
Construction works for The Residences at Marina Gate, with a gross development value exceeding $1.1bn (AED4bn) and total built-up area (BUA) of 35ha, are proceeding as planned. The first tower within the development is scheduled for completion in Q4 2017. Comprising 415 apartments, the 50-storey tower spans a BUA of 10.5ha.
Additionally, construction work for The Residences at Marina Gate II is making “impressive progress”, Aslam says, adding that the 12.4ha development – comprising 535 apartments – is anticipated to be completed in mid-2018. The company also has “a number of new developments in the pipeline” that are currently at the design stage.
This year, Select Group completed the handover of Pacific, a $272.2m (AED1bn) development in Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Marjan area. The 18.5ha project features 1,500 studio, one-bwdroom, two-bedroom, duplex, and Gulf Suite apartments.
Amenities such as swimming pools, gymnasiums, and sports facilities have also been developed within Pacific.
Meanwhile, construction works are progressing as planned at the first phase of Jumeirah Living Marina Gate, Jumeirah Group’s first project in Dubai Marina.
Select Group inked an agreement with Jumeirah Group in January 2016 to manage the project, which comprises 104 serviced apartments, 389 branded residences, and 15 villas, under its Jumeirah Living brand.
Aslam says the residential and hospitality sectors are Select Group’s largest in terms of value. He continues: “Hospitality is a sector that we have already ventured into with InterContinental, Radisson Blu, and most recently, the Jumeirah Group.
“We are currently in the process of evaluating a number of further acquisitions across Europe.”