Developers are back in the spotlight in 2013 after a tough five years and Emaar’s success saw Mohammed Alabbar narrowly miss the top spot in this year’s Power 100.
He has been at the helm for 16 years and his company remains the UAE’s prime developer. Its jewel remains of course the Burj Khalifa – but it now boasts more than 60 active companies in six segments.
This year he has suggested a floating bridge to link The World islands with mainland Dubai and indicated his company could go higher when Saudi’s 1,000m Kingdom Tower becomes the world’s tallest building in 2018. “I think we may go a little higher…technology has improved,” he said mischievously in May.
He has criticised the lack of infrastructure spend in the Arab region. He said Emaar’s expansion plans in the region were hampered by governments ignorant of dealing with the private sector.
His company has also enjoyed 12 months of buyer frenzy reminiscent of the property boom with off-plan releases sold out within hours. At the new Mira development properties were up for resale within hours at up to 40% more leading the developer to ban buyers from future sales if they are caught flipping.
But Alabbar reluctantly accepted it will never go away. He said: “Even though we learned a big lesson four years ago, people forget. Greed is in our DNA.”