Cover: ORO24 Developments' Atif Rahman on building a legacy
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Cover feature: ORO24 Developments’ Atif Rahman on building a legacy in Dubai’s built sector

Cover feature: ORO24 Developments’ Atif Rahman on building a legacy in Dubai’s built sector

Atif Rahman, the founder and chairman of ORO24 Real Estate Developments, shares his remarkable journey, from his humble beginnings as a small-town boy to becoming a prominent figure in the UAE’s thriving real estate industry

Marisha Singh
ORO24 Development

Atif Rahman, the real estate developer whose career mirrors Dubai’s journey to the top, is riding the wave of successful sales of his projects TORINO, LEVANTO, ELANO and KYOTO. In just under two years, ORO24 has launched an expansive portfolio comprising 2,500 units spread across six projects. Rahman is betting on the city and his experience to leave an imprint in the golden city’s built sector.

Referring to the launch and successful close of the projects, the developer says, “We have a healthy pipeline of projects, but I will never launch a project in hunger of revenue or looking at the bottom line. We only launch a project when I feel I am confident to bet on the project myself to ensure I am not putting anyone’s investment at risk.”

He adds, “The journey doesn’t stop after launching the project. We continue our quest for excellence while delivering the projects providing our customers upgrades in design while we are building their future assets, and they love it.”

While ORO24 is today a landmark on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road, the 45-year-old’s journey began in Patna, a city in the Indian state of Bihar where Rahman’s towering aspirations took root. He looks back at his formative years and credits his upbringing and education which instilled in him the value of hard work and the pursuit of excellence. He says, “I can credit my hometown for giving me a good education. I also had few modern-day distractions, a competitive cohort, and a value system that instilled in me the need to work hard for every small achievement. This instilled in me the drive and discipline that you need to make it big on an international scale.”

However, it was when he landed in Dubai nearly two decades ago that his life took a pivotal turn. Dubai, a city on the cusp of a real estate boom, provided fertile ground for his ambitions to flourish. In over two decades Rahman has launched 30 plus mid-to-large real estate projects, spanning over 12,000 units.

Today, he expresses deep gratitude to the city and its local Emirati community for their support in his journey and is emphatic in crediting the city’s role in his success story. “I don’t think I would have achieved even half of what I have today if I was not part of this great city. There is no other city in the world that allows you to prosper as Dubai does and the rule is simple, just walk the straight path. I am indebted to Dubai and the local Emirati brothers for the support I have received from them.”

From adversity to opportunity

The inception of ORO24 Developments was in response to adversity during the global pandemic. Dubai’s lesson in getting at the forefront of this global challenge played a significant role in sparking Rahman’s entrepreneurial journey as well. He looks back at the pivotal moment that made him take a leap of faith to launch ORO24. “A certain turn of events led me to a point where I had two choices in front of me, either invest my savings and live the rest of my life of the returns or take the plunge one last time to build something new.”

“I have spent the last 22 years of my life building businesses. Hence, following a brainstorming session with my wife, the two of us decided to build something unique in the real estate world rather than sit on liquid capital.” With ORO24, he says “the aim is to create a global real estate corporation like no other”.

People-centric approach

At the heart of ORO24’s approach to building a differentiated organisation is a focus on people and value creation, explains Rahman. He stresses that success itself hinges on a people-centric approach. “We cannot be selectively people-centric. For example, I can’t call myself people-centric where all my employees are taken care of, but the customers and other stakeholders pay a heavy price or vice versa.” He adds, “It’s a value system and requires a tremendous amount of discipline which cannot happen overnight and comes with its own set of challenges; so you have to be ready for that. A people-centric approach requires long-term vision which goes beyond short-term gains and must be led by a process that’s constantly evolving for the good of all stakeholders.”

He strongly believes that genuine, consistent, and selfless dedication is key to building a brand centred on people. ORO24’s headquarters, designed with a focus on caring for people, reflects this commitment. A wall at the developer’s headquarters features the ORO24 wheel which represents the organisation’s people-focused structure. The building also houses a staff cafeteria, a state-of-the-art gymnasium, and an employee wellness zone.

Building a strong, like-minded team, while challenging them to align their passion and vision, has been a formidable task, but one Rahman has embraced. He underscores that to lead a successful real estate venture, every team member must be groomed to deliver their best, ensuring the success of the organisation and the projects it undertakes.

Rahman envisions ORO24 Developments not just as a business but as a community where people thrive. He aspires to make the organisation an example of excellence in the corporate world. “ORO24 is a business built by people, for the people. I aspire to build it as a community where people prosper. I want the organisation to be an enabler for every person who has a touch point with the company.”

A commitment to quality

Rahman’s journey with ORO24 has already tasted success with their inaugural project, Torino. He says the initial success was a testament to his goodwill and the trust bestowed upon him by the built industry. ORO24 Developments has since launched several projects, totalling 2,500 units across Dubai. The firm, at the end of its two years in operation, has an ongoing project portfolio of Dhs1.75bn.

What sets ORO24 apart in the emirate’s real estate landscape is the pursuit of excellence. Rahman, along with his team of consultants, painstakingly refines project designs, often revising them more than 40 times before launch. The result is a portfolio of developments that consistently meet the standards set by the organisation, with a focus on innovation, quality, and customer satisfaction. Rahman candidly explains, “Life has taught me the importance of doing business led by ethics, value systems and core competency, I believe in creating this in the eco-system at ORO24.

“We are builders of real estate where a human life breathes and thrives. People choose to invest their hard-earned money with us. I am committed to building an organisation that will deliver excellence through real estate without putting people or their investment at risk,” he adds.

The future of real estate in the UAE

Looking outwards, Rahman envisions a bright future for the UAE’s real estate sector. He says the country’s remarkable transformation into a developed ecosystem over the last two decades has positioned it for sustained growth. Factors such as trade liberalisation, immigration reforms, and significant investments in infrastructure projects have bolstered the nation’s real estate landscape.

Rahman champions the opportunities made available in the country due to its government’s visionary undertakings. He says, “There are many countries with opportunities but either they struggle with ageing infrastructure, corruption, safety, hygiene, political disturbance, or harmony. The UAE under its leadership has remained constant in its socio-economic-political development and stability; the future hence, belongs to this land and its people.”

Furthermore, Rahman says, the ongoing phased implementation of corporate tax is expected to increase transparency and attract more regional and global investors.
The UAE introduced a federal corporate tax on business profits effective for the financial years starting on or after June 1, 2023. The standard statutory rate has been set at 9 per cent for taxable income exceeding Dhs375,000.

The resilience and maturity of the UAE’s economy, combined with a diverse population, make it a go-to destination for property investments. The UAE government’s continuous efforts to enhance the nation’s infrastructure and economy ensure that the real estate sector remains sustainable and secure, assures Rahman.

The real estate sector in Dubai has experienced a remarkable boom, with this year’s third quarter reporting a 40 per cent increase in total value of transactions at Dhs97.5bn compared to the same period in 2022, as per the Dubai Land Department.

Rahman recognises that the market may need to recalibrate in the near future but he says the UAE’s economy has matured significantly since the 2008 recession, and is better positioned to weather any potential market adjustments. The ORO24 founder underscores the fundamentals that have positioned Dubai and the UAE as a strong player in the international real estate market. Despite developed economies facing challenges such as high inflation, stagnating growth and slowing demand, Rahman believes the UAE growth story is on an upward trajectory.

He says, “Today, the UAE is strongly positioned in global adversity and it’s the go-to place for capital movement. The current supply of real estate is just enough to meet the current need and I see a deficit in supply if all the economic development commences to boost the population thereby creating a huge demand. “The current landscape of the UAE is led by the needs of a growing population which in turn improves the domestic consumption resulting in a self-sustained economy.”

On a global scale, economies have faced challenges, with rising borrowing costs and financial crises in various countries. Despite global headwinds, the UAE’s economic growth remains strong with the IMF predicting a stable outlook at 3.5 per cent growth. The projected growth in population will consequently lead to an increased demand in real estate, ensuring that the sector continues to thrive. He calls the UAE a “prodigy nation which is setting the path of its future today”.

He adds, “That’s why a nation which is only 0.016 per cent of the Earth’s surface with only 0.12 per cent of the global population, continues to attract the entire world’s attention through its unparalleled achievements. “I truly believe, the UAE is a country where the government is ahead of the private sector. The real estate market is still in its early stage of development and several innovative segments of real estate are yet to take shape which will diversify the sectoral offerings in the future. The banking sector is yet to completely liberalise real estate financing which will then open a new chapter of growth for the industry and the country.”

However, Rahman expands on the risks that the industry faces, including inappropriate land acquisitions, poor planning, forecasting errors, inadequate cost control, and excessive leveraging. In an off-plan market, it is essential to gauge market appetite before launching a project, and a focus on governance, discipline, and securitisation is crucial for long-term success, he explains.

As a responsible organisation, ORO24 Developments remains committed to doing business in a way that boosts investor confidence in the UAE. Their goal is to reflect the trust and value of the UAE brand in their operations, contributing to the nation’s global reputation. “We attract customers from 84 countries; it’s our duty to reflect the trust and value of the UAE in our business operations adding to the global reputation of the nation,” commits Rahman.

ORO24 embraces corporate social responsibility

For ORO24, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a fundamental pillar of their operation says Rahman. Under his leadership, the company has pledged to support vulnerable sections of society through the real estate endowment scheme in collaboration with the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (AWQAF).

Rahman reveals that the endowment scheme was his brainchild. “We are the pioneers involved in the real estate endowment scheme in coalition with AWQAF to support education, widows, orphans and prisoners. Under this scheme, one unit is pledged to AWQAF in every project we launch in Dubai.”

He adds that his firm has a diverse CSR portfolio which includes a hefty contribution worth Dhs10m to the Mohammed Bin Rashid Global Initiative. “We have several other initiatives such as building a community mosque at Arjan, supporting school education, providing clean drinking water, blood donation camps, that the company has been contributing to.”

While the organisation is deeply committed to giving back to society and creating a positive impact in the communities they serve the sense of social responsibility is extended to ORO24’s employees as well. Rahman reveals, “This summer I launched a growth planner for our sta€ under which we study their expense, liabilities and aspirations to create financial counselling along with a bridge to improve their financial goals. “The initiative also includes an Umrah Reward, Vacation Reward and free meals for those staff members who earn a salary of Dhs7,000 or below.”

As Atif Rahman’s journey continues, he remains focused on his organisational goals. The priority is to complete existing projects with Torino on track for early delivery in 2024 and to create a strong foundation for future expansion and growth. ORO24’s dynamic ecosystem is poised to attract new opportunities, ensuring a sustainable path to further expansion and innovation in the real estate industry.

ORO24 Developments under Rahman’s leadership is not just a testament to the city’s remarkable growth but also a thriving example of what can be achieved through hard work, dedication, and commitment to people, quality, and excellence. As Dubai’s skyline continues to evolve, so does the legacy of Atif Rahman and ORO24 Developments.

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