Imran Farooq, CEO of Samana and of Emirates Developers
"We are going to Pakistan with high ambitions and bullish mindset," said Imran Farooq, CEO of Samana and of Emirates Developers. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A 10-acre plot in Islamabad will launch a Dubai developer’s attempt to break into Pakistan’s property market. The land along the ‘hilly’ Islamabad-Murree Expressway has been acquired by Emirates Developers, a newly created venture between Samana Developers and H&S Real Estate, both based in Dubai.

All necessary approvals from the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in Islamabad are done and the project launch will be in January, said a top official at Samana. This will then be used to secure more such ‘resort-type locations in other cities – “That’s the plan,” said Imran Farooq, CEO of Samana and of Emirates Developers.

“We are going to Pakistan with high ambitions and bullish mindset - Every metropolitan city of Pakistan has its own specific potential. Islamabad and up the hillside are the best of tourists; Karachi for trade because it is linked to the Gwadar deep sea port; and Lahore the cultural and business hub of Punjab, which is close to Sialkot.”

The cost of developing the project is left unsaid, though Farooq says he is looking at a ‘multi-billion rupee’ tag.

Choice of H&S

Aligning with H&S Real Estate, which is into property brokerage services in Dubai, also makes sense, the CEO added. Haqsons Associates Builders and Developers based in Pakistan is a sister concern of H&S. In fact, Emirates Developers is H&S’s second venture at development in Pakistan.

“H&S is ranked as a number one brokerage company in the UAE in terms of sales revenue for top developers and was awarded by Emaar Properties for four consecutive years,” said Farooq. “In Pakistan, H&S has a portfolio of hotels and retail with the One Liberty Mall in Lahore.”

Ticks the yield box

Recently, Pakistan offered a tax amnesty scheme for developers and this has “played a role in attracting investments into real estate”, said Farooq.

The tax amnesty scheme for developers and builders launched by the government of Pakistan has played a key role in attracting investment in local real estate sectors.

The Islamabad venture – named ‘Emirates Resort’ – has received a tax amnesty approval valid until December 2023. “This will help both primary and resale buyers,” the CEO said. “Currently, these markets have shown capital appreciation of 50-75 per cent compare to the start of the pandemic.”

Emirates Resort will be located on the hillsides and will have “plenty of water features”. “Islamabad and mountainous Murree gives ample space for landscaping to create a resort-lifestyle,” said Farooq. “When we started looking at the properties and potential, we had a choice of choosing a piece of land for single tower - but that would not be a lifestyle.

“That is the reason we picked up a cluster of large plots to create a resort.”

Following the launch next month, the developer is aiming for handover be in “three years and five months”.

Offplan chances

“Yes, we will be selling offplan. H&S Real Estate has a strong background in selling offplan properties in Dubai and in Pakistan. Non-Resident Pakistanis who invest in Pakistan have now more options for buying a home or investing in properties for selling and renting. For NRPs, we are talking with banks in the GCC to facilitate buyers for mortgages.”