From left: Fawad Azizi, Deputy CEO of Azizi Developments, Farhad Azizi, CEO of Azizi Developments and Mirwais Azizi, Chairman of Azizi Group during the interview. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Dismissing market speculation, real estate company Azizi Developments says it is going ahead with all of its ongoing projects.

As for new launches, even those it had talked about in the recent past, the developer says it will wait until market conditions turn more favourable.

“We have nine projects scheduled for delivery starting from December, and priorities in place for properties that are launched over projects still in the design phase or haven’t broken ground yet,” said Mirwais Azizi, chairman and founder of the company.

“We are always revisiting those projects for a simple reason — to deliver to the market what we promise.”

Off-plan launches

Over the last six months, the local market was rife with speculation about Azizi’s development plans and what — if there were changes — this could have for the wider real estate sector.

The developer had been the most active in terms of off-plan launches in the last two years, with projects such as the Riviera and Victoria in Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City (MBR City), on-going projects on the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Healthcare City, and Al Furjan.

Earlier this year, it also revealed plans for two mega skyscrapers, both on Shaikh Zayed Road.

The Entisar Tower concept being developed by Azizi on Shaikh Zayed Road. Courtesy: Azizi

The speculations had also touched upon the internal operations of the group and its main shareholders. 

Mirwais had this to say on the subject: “Azizi is not operated by one person. We are continuously evolving. Regarding the company structure, as previously mentioned, Azizi has businesses around the globe. To make sure they are operating at optimal standards, we have dedicated members and personnel on board as any organisation would. 

"The senior management — sitting in front of you in the form of the chairman, CEO and deputy CEO — oversee our businesses locally and internationally, with an aim to commit to our promises.

“Regarding our cashflow, Azizi has been in operation for more than 29 years. We have businesses around the world and throughout the years, we have completed many projects and delivered thousands of residential and commercial units.”

Delivering on demand

The CEO of Azizi Developments, Farhad Azizi, set the record straight on another topic that has been swirling in the market about the Group — an IPO for its “hospitality division”.

“There was a miscommunication — there are no plans for an IPO in the immediate future,” said Farhad. “We are committed to developing a presence in hospitality, and we do have options to build hotels at the Riviera and elsewhere. It would be a natural extension of what we do in real estate.”

As for the skyscraper plans, Farhad says it will have to be dictated by market forces. “The level of intensity in the market is down, but I think there will be a lot of passion among developers coming back in 2019,” he added. “You see things coming up on the Expo site, hotels being made ready. It will take time, but the market (demand) will return.

“Meanwhile, developers should have the flexibility to take a break and relook at what’s immediate and what’s more in the future. It’s not taking the foot off the accelerator. When the demand is there, it has to be delivered.

“For the twin-towers at Safa Park, a lot will depend on when’s the right time to build. (The master-developer) Meydan has been recommending different options to us on the mix within the tower. They have been extremely co-operative.

“The same for Entisar Tower, which is a plot we bought from Meydan last year. The concept work is done — both are iconic locations and we are fortunate to have them. We will continue with the plans. At the same time, the bread and butter of any developer is maintaining construction. We are very construction-driven at all of work sites.”

Residential project

One of these is the Aliyah at Healthcare City.

“We sold a whole floor there in less than 30 minutes early this week,” said Fawad Azizi, deputy CEO. “A lot of people were surprised when we launched a residential project at Healthcare City.

“There’s a lot of untouched land in the centre of Dubai...a lot of developer focus had been on stretching it further. But with Healthcare City or MBR City, these locations add depth to the centre. It is creating depth and we have a presence there.

“Real estate is not about a month or what happens in a quarter; there will always be this time and that time. But the need for housing is always going to be there. Developers should have the flexibility to re-route in line with the market.”

Focus on a leaner company

Azizi is going through its share of change internally, in adjusting to the current market reality. There is an emphasis on keeping costs down and maintaining a leaner workforce.

On whether the shift to being a lean and mean organisation is done, Farhad Azizi said: “If the choice is being a big elephant or a big gorilla, we would opt to be the second. Even a big gorilla can move fast... that’s what being lean means to us. Lean is a good thing. But I won’t say we are being mean about it.”

Steady rise

It is over the last three years, and particularly in the last year, that Azizi Developers acquired such a high-profile. This was built around two “mini-cities” — the Riviera and Victoria — that it announced for Mohammad Bin Rashid City. And the profile was consolidated when news came out that it had acquired two plots on Shaikh Zayed Road, one of which would be a twin-tower near Safa Park and the Dubai Canal.

But the developer had been active in the years prior to 2016, with a slew of smaller projects in Dubailand and Jumeirah Village.

Then came the announcements that it would start work on the Palm and Dubai Healthcare City.

These launches along with an aggressive sales strategy made it among the Top 3 offplan sellers, if not the number one, in Dubai during 2017.

But by the mid-2018 point, Azizi was reworking its build strategy to be more in sync with market conditions, with offplan sales dropping significantly. As with other developers, Azizi started placing more emphasis on existing projects.

Recently, it handed over a roadmap of handed over projects and those it plans to deliver from now until 2025, including detailed construction timelines, to the Dubai Land Department.