Driven Properties' Abdullah Alajaji on building resilience in real estate
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Driven Properties’ Abdullah Alajaji on building resilience in real estate

Driven Properties’ Abdullah Alajaji on building resilience in real estate

Abdullah Alajaji, founder and MD of Driven Properties, explains the importance of establishing readiness for both good and bad times in the real estate sector

Abdullah Alajaji, founder and MD of Driven Properties.

The year 2023 was a fantastic year for the Dubai real estate sector as a whole. The entire ecosystem thrived on the back of increased demand and systemic reforms aimed at attracting more investment into the city. With little to no barriers to enter the market, the prevailing question is how you do you create economic moats within this sector that will help withstand any turbulent times?

This is what we spend most of our time doing at Driven. We invest in human capital, and we push forward with research and development that continue to guide our convictions as we grow. In the year 2023, we created Driven Labs, a division that essentially incubates and empowers the most important cog in the wheel to unlock hidden value in the real estate ecosystem that is now massively underserved by tech and innovation in the MENA region.

Moreover, we invested in marketing automation and AI tools to ensure that we are ahead of the curve when it comes down to the transaction level. These initiatives have already paid off as the customer journey becomes more transparent to the agent, agency, and ultimately the customer. In addition to our investment in tech, we also ensured we maintain our position as a real estate investor, with balance sheet investments crossing the Dhs1.5bn mark in 2023.

We continued to purchase and upgrade assets across the city. Some of these investments include a City Walk building and a portfolio in the same district, the largest portfolio in Burj Daman in DIFC, a development on the Jumeirah Water Canal, and several sites, compounds, and houses in Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim, with a plan to bring to market a new standard of living in some of the most prime locations in the city.

We also invested in scaling some of our verticals to ensure we are across the entire customer journey. On the luxury front, our exclusive partnership with Forbes Global Properties helped ensure we lead against market participants in terms of transactions on the ultra-high end space, with over Dhs10bn in 2023 alone. On the development management front, we added over 700 agency partners to our belt, thereby maximizing liquidity options for our development partners. As developers, we are bringing to market some of the most innovative developments in the city, working with the Pritzker prize winner David Chipperfield to deliver the most sustainable real estate landmark in the city.

We have further partnered with the government on several initiatives. Dubai Chamber has been a strategic partner for Driven where we jointly created programs and organized roadshows aimed at attracting more investment from continents such North America, South America, and Africa into Dubai. Moreover, we have been chosen by the Ministry of Economy and the Central Bank of the UAE as the representative from the country’s real estate sector in front of the assessors of the Joint Group of African and Middle Eastern States of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), in an effort to combat money-laundering.

As we look forward to 2024, we will continue to invest in talent and tech. We are of the view that there will be much consolidation in the sector as competition intensifies and we believe we are in prime position to benefit from such events as we cement our economic moats.

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