Sobha Realty's Francis Alfred on the demand for luxury properties in Dubai
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Sobha Realty’s Francis Alfred on the demand for luxury properties in Dubai

Sobha Realty’s Francis Alfred on the demand for luxury properties in Dubai

The MD of Sobha Realty shares how the property developer is leveraging the positive trends in the market to benefit both its business and buyers

Neesha Salian
Sobha MD_Francis Alfred

How did the company perform last year?
Despite a competitive and challenging market, we generated property sales of over $1bn in 2021 amid the UAE’s strong economic recovery and demand from investors.  This growth reflects our commitment to the timely delivery of high-quality and uniquely designed projects, and the consistent expansion of our offering at the Sobha Hartland development in Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City.

The UAE’s real estate market (including developers) has had a good year and performed well in the first quarter of 2022. How is the company leveraging this uptick in the market?
This year, we are targeting $1.6bn in sales – a 50 per cent increase over 2021 – as the country’s economy continues to recover following the relaxation in Covid-19 induced restrictions in the UAE and across the world. As the UAE government was able to swiftly address the challenges brought by the pandemic, high-net-worth investors and individuals from different parts of the world are showing an interest in investing their money in good quality and luxury developments in the country.

Sobha strongly believes that with new government initiatives further boosting the confidence of investors, this momentum would continue. This year, we expect to hand over 2,000 units to our customers – from the UAE, GCC, India, Russia, China, UK and Africa – at the Sobha Hartland development. This takes the total number of units handed over to 3,000. The Hartland project is expected to fully culminate by 2026.

Read: Dubai’s residential market sees record growth in Q1 2022: CBRE

Give us your outlook for the property market for the rest of the year.
The luxury property market in Dubai is poised to thrive throughout 2022, with increasing demand from high-net-worth investors from around the world, especially post Expo 2020. We’ll see more upscale buildings and projects coming up. The market will benefit from the influx of wealthy overseas investors, including those from the Ukraine and Russia.

Sobha has a portfolio of properties lined up for handover this year, with more emphasis given to our selection of luxury townhouses and villas.

How are you incorporating sustainability into your projects?
Although quality and luxury are the cornerstone for our brand philosophy, we are deeply passionate about ensuring our homes are sustainable. Around 30 per cent of Sobha Hartland, which is 2.4 million square feet out of the total land, encompasses a dedicated green cover with over 300 species of trees and plants, resulting in a reduction in the carbon footprint of the development. Our vision is to ensure a sustainable lifestyle through low-energy usage, and eco-friendly products and fittings, to create a safe and clean environment for future generations.

For example, we leverage UAE’s abundant natural light with double-height windows. These windows allow more sunlight to come in, resulting in less consumption of electricity and making each room seem even larger. The clear skylight into the master bedroom ceiling in the villas also brings additional light into internal space.

We have also ensured that we use only the most energy efficient and long-lasting light fixtures available in the market. The double glazed thermal and acoustically insulated windows and Rockwool insulated walls act as climate control and result in over 60 per cent reduction in solar heat gain. Sobha Realty has a customised safe and energy efficient solar hot water system while recycling stations are situated at the community and recycling bins are provided outside every home.

What are the other trends you see impacting your business?
Over the next five years, technology innovation and sustainability will be key drivers in the UAE real estate market. The demand for smart homes has seen a significant rise in the last couple of years. In the future, smart technology will help developers plan, develop and manage projects better. And developers will have the responsibility to not only provide green spaces but will need to venture into sustainable building materials and furniture.

Advanced technology has been strongly making its way into the real estate industry and we believe that it can help elevate the possibilities when it comes to luxury and the ultimate home. Therefore, we have been constantly upgrading to the latest available software, such as BIM 360, for design and coordination purposes. Our villas at Garden Houses, for example, come with state-of-the-art home automation systems for lighting, curtains and air conditioning. For our product offering, innovative technologies are constantly explored, tried, and tested. To name a few, we provide wireless home automation, electric car charging stations, single stack drainage systems, special leakage proof plumbing fittings, and more.

Tell us about your upcoming projects in the UAE and/or other countries.
Currently, our plans involve remaining focused on the UAE, especially Dubai. For the next decade, we will continue to grow our large land bank in the emirate and develop high-quality homes that buyers are seeking.

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