The Dubai Land Department (DLD) will be announcing the winners of the first Gulf Real Estate Awards on Monday. The awards, a first in the region to be backed by government, aims to encourage industry best practices and growth. It will see a total of 66 organisations across the Gulf competing for 21 awards that will recognise the region’s best developers and architects, along with outstanding projects in sectors such as affordable and luxury housing and commercial developments.
Special awards will recognise those making the government’s vision a reality, under categories such as Best Use of Smart Technology and Happiest Community. Finalists will present their case before a panel of judges a day before the final awards and entries will be marked against key criteria, including change delivered, effective implementation, business impact, innovation and creativity.
“[The awards] help us to highlight those who are applying best practices in the industry and encourage people to learn from this example,” said Mahmoud Al Burai, CEO of the Dubai Real Estate Institute. “We’ve expended a lot of energy on identifying the bad guys, but not enough has been done to champion the good guys who are doing a great job.”
Talking about the main challenges the real estate industry is currently facing, Al Burai, said, “There are still issues related to the awareness of investors and tenants. We want them to be more aware of the laws and regulations so that they feel better protected. There is also the need to increase transparency in the real estate sector. If we want to attract more investors, we should play an active role with regards to transparency and governance.”
In creating a truly unique real estate market in Dubai, Al Burai said its is important to incorporate themes such as such as “smart”, “sustainable” and “happiness”, which are already among the categories covered under the awards. Furthermore, Al Burai said Dubai's real estate market already has a number of attractive features, such as security, high returns and liquidity.
“Now we need to work more on the connectivity of the city," said Al Burai. "We’ve witnessed significant population growth and that puts pressure on infrastructure, particularly roads and transportation. As we expect the population to grow further, we will need to link the city better than it is presently and work to seamlessly connect the clusters around Dubai.
"We need to build well-connected communities and move people closer to their workplaces so that we can cut down on traffic – this is why affordable housing is so important. Our communities should be places where people can live, work and seek entertainment all in one place.”
We ask the Gulf Real Estate Awards judges about...
Rob Jackson, managing director of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors – Middle East and North Africa: The event will raise public awareness. The industry is embarking on projects that are impacting the public right across the region, so it’s important that people can see these awards encouraging best practices.
Tariq Ahmed Nizami, founder and CEO of Clubs Network Worldwide: It’s great that the awards are backed by the Dubai Land Department. What sets them apart is the fairness of the judging. This will really help give people an insight into which is the right developer or product to pick.
Sameh Alwadiya, managing partner of Harbor Real Estate: The awards will motivate real estate professionals to do a better job. There are great things happening in the region, so it’s important that individuals and companies are recognised for their achievements.
What impressed them most
Nizami: Mid-sized developers going up against the large ones. It just shows that it’s not just the larger firms doing well; the smaller firms are competitive, have separate aspirations and want to contribute more to the sector.
Jackson: The real estate sector is a critical component of the region’s GDP and the belief that transparency is important.
Mohammad Shadi Hamwi, CEO of First Art Engineering Consultancy: Smart city and green developments. We are also seeing processes developed locally by the government to help drive consistency and improve quality of work.
Alwadiya: The infrastructure is getting better and will continue to improve, paving the way for a stronger sector performance.
Jackson: I’ve been in the region over 20 years and I’ve never seen a stronger appetite from the government to improve industry standards as part of a wider initiative to attract investment. This is going to make a huge difference in developing the sector going forward.
Hamwi: There’s a real focus now in Dubai on building living and workspaces that are both environmentally friendly and smart – demand for this is growing quickly as the government has made it integral to its vision of the future.
The biggest challenges
Alwadiya: The balance of supply and demand will be important. Things will become more competitive as supply increases, making the focus on quality even more important.
Hamwi: The region will still need to navigate around continuing global economic pressures. The UAE has learnt from the pressures of the past and is much stronger for it – we had the experience and we weathered it, which gives us much more credibility in the eyes of investors.
The region’s greatest strengths in real estate
Nizami: The diversity of the UAE is a major strength. Somebody who can do business here can do business anywhere’ because they’re used to dealing with over 200 nationalities.
Alwadiya: The UAE freehold law is a big asset as nowhere else in the region can foreigners enjoy the same freedom to purchase property, which adds diversity and creates more business opportunities.
Hamwi: The variety of projects and the diversity of the sector are greater than ever.
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