Interview: Mohamed Al Mubarak

To what extent do regulators and developers need to address the availability of affordable housing in the emirate?

MOHAMED AL MUBARAK: Abu Dhabi has a vast array of projects across the market from affordable apartments to the most luxurious penthouses money can buy. It is a characteristic of most global cities that property prices in some locations rise faster than others, depending on the location and quality of the build. Understanding the need for more mid-market real estate, Aldar launched a project called Shams Meera in 2015, within Shams Abu Dhabi, which is located on Reem Island. Sales have proved extremely strong, and by the end of the year it was almost fully sold out, which proves there is a huge demand in that part of the market. The Shams Meera project illustrates that high-quality affordable options can be delivered, even in the most sought-after locations.

What is being done to ensure a healthy balance between retail and institutional investors in order to bring greater stability to the market?

AL MUBARAK: Abu Dhabi is in a strong position at the moment, and with the addition of the new real estate law, there is now more legislation offering a clearer framework for borrowers and lenders. The law addresses issues from off-plan financing to mortgage enforcement, it adds value for national and international investors, and to the maturity of the property market here. This government should be commended for all the work they have done in putting this framework together. They could have been pressured by the buoyancy of the sector, but they undertook extensive research in Dubai and other cities in the region. The government also consulted several major developers on how changing regulations could affect the sector. It is crucial for all stakeholders to sit down together and have each other’s voices heard to make sure its a collaborative effort.

On the theme of inclusivity, in line with the wide range of developments available in Abu Dhabi, we are also lucky to have a great variety of customers and investors. Many properties, be they for UAE nationals on the Abu Dhabi mainland or for expatriates in investment zones such as Yas Island, have already completely sold out. This proves the strength of the market in Abu Dhabi, and demonstrates the supply shortage of quality offerings and the high demand from the population, local or expatriates, across the city in destinations like Yas Island, Al Raha Beach and Shams Abu Dhabi.

How is integration and coordination among different tourism stakeholders driving real estate developments in Abu Dhabi?

AL MUBARAK: Abu Dhabi set a strategy 10 years ago with several facets, from culture and art to research and development. A decade on, we continue to tread the same path. You can see by the milestones achieved – in the field of education such as the involvements of New York University and Paris Sorbonne, in infrastructure projects such as the Midfield Terminal Building or Etihad Rail and in leisure and tourism from theme parks to shopping malls – that the decade-old strategy is coming to fruition. There will be a lot of international attention over the coming years on museums, particularly with the opening of the Louvre and Zayed Museums, but the whole vision for the future is bigger than just these few buildings.

These investments are huge catalysts that create jobs, bringing people temporarily or more permanently to this city from other cities in the UAE and overseas. We are building upon the successes we have had here in Abu Dhabi, and we are also always looking at what works in the other emirates.