Interview: Talal Al Dhiyebi
How are flexible payment plans helping boost the number of first-time buyers?
TALAL AL DHIYEBI: Payment plans are one of the most effective ways to attract buyers, as they can make home ownership more affordable. By spreading out the cost of buying property over a number of years, a greater number of potential buyers has increased access to the market. For developers, it is about providing the right types of products that will capture the imagination of purchasers, bringing them into the housing market – whether for first-time buyers or those looking to build their portfolios. Throughout the years we have worked to provide different types of flexible plans to our customers – from rent-to-own schemes and partnerships with banks to offer competitive home finance rates.
In what ways is property technology (proptech) changing dynamics in the real estate market?
AL DHIYEBI: Innovation is being embedded into every sector in the world, and real estate is no exception. Proptech is enabling organisations to increase customer satisfaction, simplify processes, reduce costs and improve occupancy rates, enabling companies to perform more efficiently. Proptech also has the potential to reduce energy use and overall environmental impacts related to the sector. We see proptech opportunities as very real, and this is why innovation is a key pillar of Aldar’s business strategy and why we have a number of initiatives utilising the latest in technology and innovation, for both our employees and our stakeholders.
Where are the short- and medium-term opportunities in the local real estate market, and what can be done to increase foreign direct investment?
AL DHIYEBI: The world is navigating an unprecedented challenge due to the global outbreak of Covid-19. However, the medium- to long-term fundamentals of Abu Dhabi’s real estate market were already strengthening before the crisis, and additional economic stimulus from the government and the central bank in 2020 is serving to mitigate the negative impact. These include incentives for first-time home buyers and fee exemptions on all commercial and industrial activities from real estate registrations this year. Many investors regard this as a good time to buy real estate because of the likelihood of a long period of very low interest rates, uncertainty and volatility of other asset classes. In 2019 and early 2020 the local market was showing signs that supply and demand were coming into equilibrium. With the Abu Dhabi government determined to push forward with its programme of economic acceleration, the real estate market should continue to benefit from inward and homegrown investment.
What impact is the drive for sustainability having, and how are local stakeholders working together to incorporate it in developments?
AL DHIYEBI: Sustainability is a priority for Aldar and permeates all of our partnerships. In 2019 we launched our first sustainability report, which is based on four pillars – the economy, people, environment and community – and supported by robust governance. We aim to build a long-lasting, sustainable business that offers continued benefits to the economy and stakeholders.
Sustainability influences real estate market dynamics from both a business and environmental perspective. Today investors are asking for more information on their real estate funds’ environmental, social and governance programmes, which is affecting the decision-making processes of many companies. Globally, we are moving towards a circular economy, where waste of building materials is minimised to reduce environmental impact.
We are supporting sustainability through initiatives such as Sandooq Al Watan and by partnering with entities like the Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an. We are also working alongside various local government entities across different sectors as well as with the private sector to achieve our shared vision of prosperity.
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