Dubai: One of the most high-profile names in Dubai’s real estate business over the last eight years, Ziad El Chaar has resigned from Damac Properties, where he was managing director and executive board member. The developer issued a statement to this effect on Dubai Financial Market on Thursday, though it did not name an immediate replacement.
Immediately, it sparked off speculation that El Chaar might be heading for New York, while others revolved around him being headhunted for a top position with another Gulf developer, likely to be in Saudi Arabia. No official confirmation was had.
In the DFM statement, Hussain Sajwani, Chairman of Damac Group, said: “We regretfully announce the departure of Mr. El Chaaar, but wish to thank him wholeheartedly for the outstanding efforts during his time with Damac and the many achievements he spearheaded during the period.” (Damac also confirmed Ossama Abbas as its new General Manager - Sales.) El Chaar was there through some extremely turbulent times for Dubai’s property market, when it went into a nosedive during the 2008-09 financial crisis. But after a tough year and more, Damac was quick off the mark in riding the turnaround that started to come about from late 2011-early 2012. On the one hand, the developer focused on completing many of its legacy projects and on the other started hitting the off-plan launch market with a slew of new releases.
The financials started to improve and the developer also expanded into hotel serviced apartments through its own brands – Maison - and in alliance with global names such as Paramount and Bugatti. Then there was the expansion of the Damac landbank and the subsequent launch of “Akoya” branded mixed-use developments in Dubailand. (Damac currently has four years’ worth of landbank in its portfolio.) Through these years, El Chaar was never away from the spotlight. And he was never short of words or an extremely quotable sound-byte. And when he felt like it, he was quick to express forceful views, not least when Damac came out strongly against the “hyper-inflated” residential supply numbers analysts would come out with. El Chaar was insistent that fears of an oversupply situation in Dubai was misplaced, given the historical mismatch between expectations and actual supply of homes.
Not just that, he was quoted in a UK newspaper as saying that he would “go on TV naked” if the property market crashed.
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