Running any business is fraught with challenges. However, when you are developing some of the most exclusive, luxury mixed-use developments in diverse parts of the world, obstacles are inevitable.
With a portfolio of prestigious projects in Grenada, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Pakistan and an upcoming development in the UAE, ORA Developers is adept at navigating any risks in order to continue the company mission of delivering exclusive high-end projects.
In its day-to-day operations, ORA faces obstacles such as political insecurity in some of the countries they operate in as well as financial risks like inflation and fluctuating foreign currency. However, its business leaders – Naguib Sawiris, Chairman and CEO of ORA Developers, and his management team – are proficient at dealing with any challenge by being agile and adaptable when faced with the unexpected.
Challenges for ORA can arise from the outset of any project. From the very conception of a proposal, ORA conducts in-depth research to understand both the market it is in as well as the target customer in order to avoid any misstep. As a professional business, it has to abide by country rules through its building permits, approvals, and relevant No Objection Certificates. However, with all the paperwork in place, instability remains a reality when there is a change in government or authorities. Then there is the challenge of finding expert staff who can maintain ORA’s stringent quality prerequisites. After successfully developing high-end properties in various parts of the world, ORA has learnt to deal with such situations and work around them.
In some countries, procuring the right supplies to build a world-class development was hard. ORA’s Silversands, Grenada is one example where the company faced limited resources and contractors on the ground. ORA had to contend with strict import procedures to obtain the high-quality materials it wanted to use from the US and Europe.
“In Pakistan, there were issues with the soil because of the constant rain that we faced,” explains Sawiris. “There were financial problems too as the banks were very small.”
While smaller banks might have limitations in providing loans to developers, other potential financial issues in certain countries include high customs duties and the lack of ease in transferring money across borders.
Conversely, with projects being sold in a specific currency, devaluation can prove detrimental. When, for example, there was the devaluation of the Egyptian pound and ORA was working on its Egyptian projects, it affected construction costs. “When you work in these environments, you lose a lot of money if you are delayed,” he says. “If everybody is delayed, we have a big problem with the rising price of the material, etc. Time is against you.”
When faced with such difficulties, ORA does its best to ensure its projects remain economically viable by executing them as quickly as possible to keep costs within the permissible limit. But this quick execution is never at the expense of its building philosophy, principles or high standards.
And driving the company to deliver on its promises and unique selling propositions on time is its top management. “If I want to categorise our management style, it is that we do everything fast,” explains Sawiris.
With the business launched just over seven years ago, ORA is still relatively young in the real estate market. But in that time it has developed properties worth $12 billion across the Caribbean, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Pakistan. The upscale real estate company has recently added the UAE to its list of sites through a partnership agreement with Abu Dhabi’s investment company Q Holding for a smart and sustainable city in Ghantoot.
ORA is also exploring other new markets and there are talks of plans to develop retail and food and beverage offerings in Grenada.
But the ambition doesn’t stop there. A major future goal for the company is to have an IPO and list ORA in one of the main stock exchanges.
With dynamic leadership and a clear long-term vision, there is a passion for the business that will not be wavered. ORA has the resources and is optimistic that, in time, the company will reach the top and stay there. In the meantime, it will be ready to deal with any challenges that arise by pre-empting any unfavourable eventualities. Since the company thrives on being adaptable in the face of adversity, ORA will undoubtedly rise to any challenge along the way.