Interview: Nabeel Mohammed Al Buenain

How have real estate developers in Qatar reacted to the ongoing supply issues?

NABEEL MOHAMMED AL BUENAIN: Despite the bitterness caused by the tensions, we were always looking towards the positive side, learning from current situations and coming up with sustainable long-term solutions. From here I can tell you that we are moving forward stronger, armed with our will and solidity to achieve, succeed and meet expectations. Our challenge now is to start producing the goods we consume. We met with suppliers and the first priority was to help them source materials from further afield. The second was to see whether they could produce these materials locally. The third was to multiply our resource streams, something we have now started to do. The bottom line is that the situation slowed us down at the beginning, but we have worked diligently in cooperation with contractors, suppliers and the government to move forward.

What role does Qatar’s sovereign investment strategy in international real estate play in offsetting downturns in the local market?

AL BUENAIN: Qatar is constantly expanding its investment strategy and searching for new investment opportunities. Instead of just looking for investments in any single country, we need to look at the bigger picture. The process of any investment should go through certain stages, and calculating the best opportunity depends on revenue, the stability of the country in which you are going to invest and its currency. Qatari Diar’s portfolio includes more than 39 projects under development and investments in 21 countries, with a combined value of over $35bn.

Do you see scope for expanding the areas where non-GCC citizens can own property in Qatar?

AL BUENAIN: This is certainly a priority. Qatar would like to attract foreign investors by seeing what laws are hindering them from coming here. At the end of the day, legislation is man-made, so if something needs to be changed for the better, we will do it. As a real estate developer, we will make sure any investment that brings foreigners has the proper infrastructure and resources. This is especially true when seeking to attract investment to a distinctive market like Lusail City. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, has made it clear that we should be open to investment from a diverse range of strong nations. Every day we should see what the market needs. If there is anything else that can be done to attract investors, we will do it. The size of the returns from the first investors might not be great, but the momentum will attract others.

How successful have major real estate developers been in incorporating environmental sustainability principles into their projects?

AL BUENAIN: Environmental sustainability is one of the most significant challenges of our time. It has been mandated in Qatar National Vision 2030 under the environment pillar that Qatar needs to strike a harmonious balance between “development needs” and “preserving and protecting the environment”. We at Qatari Diar, together with our partners, are committed to leaving a sustainable footprint through our investments around the world. We are working to ensure that our projects become a legacy for the residents of the countries in which we operate. Lusail City was the first city in Qatar to endorse the Global Sustainability Assessment System principles and to rate all buildings according to their sustainability and performance. Lusail City itself is a self-contained, sustainable and well-planned city, which signifies Qatar’s progress on a grand scale. Although we may face difficulties and challenges from the investors in terms of extra costs brought about by the incorporation of additional rules and regulations, they will ultimately enhance the value of the buildings in the long run.