The World Folio Magazine meets Mr. El-Masri

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The World Folio Magazine meets Mr. El-Masri

Hayssam El-Masri, Founder and President of Sharjah Oasis Real Estate Development, explains the key determinants that made the UAE the business platform for the rest of the region, and the unique luxury and family-oriented approach featuring environmental preservation that characterizes the development of Sharjah Waterfront

What are, in your opinion, the main drivers of the winning bid to host Expo 2020, and what do you think can this global event represent for the UAE?

First of all let me start by saying that Vision 2021 aims to transform the UAE into one of the best countries in the world, and this is something I strongly believe in. This country is already perceived as a leader in many areas, and this vision will further cement this status and prove that the UAE is capable of achieving anything. The UAE is a very strong investment platform and global investors recognize the solid foundations and transparency of doing business in the country. These are the main factors why the UAE will host Expo 2020.

On the one hand, this global event will provide global exposure to whatever great has been achieved in this country. On the other, Expo 2020 will further reinforce the UAE as a global platform for business. It is going to create significant job opportunities and attract more and more decision-makers from all around the world.

The UAE can boast world-class infrastructure and Expo 2020 will be the perfect window to showcase this to the rest of the world, which I believe will boost GDP expansion beyond 2020. This is exactly what investors look at: what the market trends are today and what are the future prospects.

What would you say are the benefits here in the UAE for American investors willing to penetrate the whole MENASA region?

Investors look for figures, certain parameters, the sensitivity plan, and risk measurement, for instance. I think from this perspective, our indicators are all healthy. That’s why you will see that relationships with many countries around the world, the USA included, are growing. This is because the UAE is becoming a worldwide business hub.

The main factor behind our economic growth is that our leadership has focused on building a conducive ecosystem first. Therefore, a strong framework for all kinds of businesses has been created whereby investors have access to all information, data, and prospects to create a viable business strategy. So besides American investors, I am confident investors from all around the world will be increasingly interested in allocating part of their portfolios here in the UAE.

The UAE focuses on innovation. The first airport implementing an e-gate is Dubai, so if you need an e-economy, it’s Dubai. It’s the economic gate for the rest of the world.

Many global investors indeed see 2020 more as a target instead of a milestone, thereby thinking that there might be a cliff right after 2020. Do you think that all these ongoing real estate investments will be sustainable in the long run?

I’m very optimistic personally, so I don’t think there’s going to be any cliff. Again, I believe that the current level of infrastructure development we have in the UAE is crucial, as it provides the perfect framework for an economy to thrive in the long-term. Moreover, it gives the country the flexibility to adapt and attract new trends, new projects, and new businesses. On top of that, there’s a clear long-term vision and in fact the leadership is already working for plans beyond 2020.

If we look at the trends in the real estate market, everyone looks at Dubai but we actually see different trends. For example, CBRE affirms there has been a drop of 12% on an annual basis on the price of rents in Dubai. In contrast, in Abu Dhabi the rents have been going up approximately 10%, and 3% the last two months. What are the key trends in Sharjah versus the rest of the country?

The figures we have are really encouraging. The latest report we have clearly shows that the best yield on rent comes from Sharjah. It is true we cannot treat the UAE as a single market. Different emirates provide different opportunities. It’s a combination of specific characteristics of each emirate that makes the economy of this country so dynamic. The economic diversification the UAE has achieved goes hand in hand with the long-term vision of shaping a sustainable economy in the long term. Diversification is also crucial when it comes to exogenous macroeconomic shocks, as it makes it easier to react, adapt, and respond to crises.

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