Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim Properties (MAF Properties) is planning to launch a mixed-use development in Dubai, the company’s CEO George Kostas has said.
“We are very confident in the Dubai market and we have been spending a lot of time thinking about what would be our first project here,” he told Gulf Business.
“We are hoping to announce the project in the next 12 months.”
The project will add to three other mixed-use developments being undertaken by the company’s ‘communities business’ unit in Sharjah, Oman and Lebanon.
Al Zahia, a 1.3 million sqm project in Sharjah, is being developed as a joint venture with the Sharjah government and comprises villas, apartments and office units.
MAF Properties is also developing The Wave, Muscat, as a joint venture with the government of Oman. The 2.3 million sqm development features 4,000 residential properties, a 400-berth marina, a Greg Norman signature golf course, four hotels and retail, leisure and dining facilities.
The third project, Waterfront City Beirut, has a total land area of 250,000 sqm and includes 1,500 residential homes, an office district of 12 buildings, a shopping mall, two international hotels, parks and a marina-front promenade. It is being developed as a joint venture with Lebanese company Société Joseph Khoury et Fils Holding.
“We have had those for a number of years now and they are all doing really well but we just don’t have the exposure in Dubai [as a developer] since we haven’t done a project here as yet,” Kostas said.
The company recently hired Simon Azzam as the new CEO for its mixed-use business unit. Azzam, who has previously served as CEO of Bloom Properties and CEO of Union Properties, will focus on finalising a project in Dubai, said Kostas.
“He comes with a great track record of developing in Dubai and has been a veteran of the industry in the Middle East for the last 25 years, so we are happy to have him on board.”
Similar to its other developments, the project in Dubai could be a joint venture, he said. “We are open to joint ventures, but we are also looking to do some projects on our own.”
MAF Properties, which currently operates 17 malls and 11 hotels across the MENA region, is seeking to cash in on the growing demand for housing in the region to boost its mixed-use business.
“As a growing emerging region, there’s an enormous amount of household creation and wealth generation. Also, with a growing young population, there’s huge demand for housing across the whole region. So we see it as being a long-term sustainable business,” said Kostas.
He added: “In the longer term we would like our mixed use development business to be as big a contributor to the bottom line as our mall business. It will take time to grow to that size but that’s our aspiration.”