The Palm Jumeirah, Nakheel's signature reclamation project in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Nakheel will have a new chairman following confirmation that Ali Rashid Lootah, the incumbent, is stepping down. Lootah will assume a new position on the board of Dubai World at the invite of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

The Dubai master-developer also announced a set of changes to its board with the addition of four new members — Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Shaibani, Sultan bin Sulayem, Khalifa Al Daboos and Issam Galadari.

Ali Rashid Lootah

The expanded, seven-member board will be chaired by Mohammed Ebrahim Al Shaibani, who is also Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director at Dubai Investment.

Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaibani, chief executive of the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) Image Credit: WAM

The current directors include Khalid bin Bakhit Al Falasi, Ibrahim Hussain Al Fardan and Adel Khalifa Al Shaer.

Sultan Bin Sulayem, incidentally, was the founder-chairman of Nakheel.

In a statement, Al Shaibani said: “Nakheel has managed under the stewardship of Ali Lootah and his years of dedication to steady its course and return to profitability. He will undoubtedly bring his energy, drive and commitment to his new role and responsibilities.”

10 years

Lootah had moved into the chairman’s post at the time of the global financial crisis and which had such a devastating effect on the Dubai real estate market.

During his 10 years at the helm, he first structured a major turnaround — which led to Nakheel paying off all its credit exposures in full and well ahead of the due date — and then got the developer to go into a major project drive.

This included new masterplanned communities in emerging locations within the city, such as Nad Al Sheba and Al Khail, as well as projects to further realise the full potential of the Palm, Nakheel’s flagship development.

It was capped by the opening just recently of the Nakheel Mall as a retail and leisure destination for residents on the island and beyond.

It was under Lootah that Nakheel initiated a major shift from offplan launches to focussing on long-term lease projects, whether it was in retail or residential.

This was a formula that other master-developers in Dubai have since followed.

Nakheel also went big on hospitality in the last five years, and with more to come.

Artist's impression of the Deira Islands masterplan Image Credit: Supplied

The other major launch that Lootah presides over is Deira Islands, as ambitious a project as any that Dubai has seen.