First Saudi Real Estate Developer Named Guinness World Records’

First Saudi Real Estate Developer Named Guinness World Records’

When you are strolling along Dubai Marina or enjoying a relaxing boat ride across the waters, it is almost impossible to miss the famous twisted tower that completely looks like geometrical helix. Yes, you are right, it’s the Cayan Tower. Another jewel in Dubai’s skyline, the Cayan Tower has been officially declared by the Guinness World Records as the globe’s tallest twisted tower standing at 307 metres (1,007 feet) high.

The developer of such an iconic project, Cayan Group, is a leading international property developer and real estate investment group with offices in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Dubai, UAE. The company’s development portfolio includes residential complexes, commercial towers, hospitality projects and multi-purpose gated communities. The company’s growing client base includes more than 2,000 customers from all over the world.

Since its inception in 2004, major developments by Cayan Group has received various awards from all around the globe. The financial crisis in 2008 in Dubai forced the company to slow down their construction in the emirate, but that also didn’t deter them in completing their projects.

One such project is Cayan Tower, which was handed over in 2013. With 75 floors housing 495 apartments, Cayan Tower is twisted at a 90 degree angle from bottom to top, with each floor rotated by 1.2 degrees. It took seven years and US$272 million to build this epitome of modern engineering. The tower’s construction started in 2006 but had to stop due to major flooding in basement and then the financial crisis in 2008 forced the delay. But finally the tower was completed in June 2013.

Cayan Group has several other major projects in their kitty, most of which is located in Dubai Marina. The first one, Silverene has 34 floors in Tower A and 26 floors in Tower B, completed and handed over in 2011. The next one is Jewels, 20-storeys twin towers located at a strategic location in Dubai Marina and within a walking distance from The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR).

Dorrabay is a 22-storey residential tower strategically located to overlook the beach and the marina, offering a range of panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf, Marina or boat harbours. The tower´s curved design and location at the end of the crossroad between the beach and the marina optimises the view for all its apartments.

The next one, La Residencia Del Mar, located in Dubai Marina, is a fusion of refined lifestyles, inspired designs and unmatched amenities. With only 14 floors and only 3 apartments per floor, residents enjoy total privacy and exclusivity.

Last but not the least, Cayan Business Center (CBC) is a 12-storey building designed by leading architects, Schuster Pechtold. CBC offers 12 floors of commercial freehold space located in the heart of the Dubai Technology, Electronic-Commerce and Media Free Zone (TECOM) district on Sheikh Zayed Road.

The company’s portfolio also extends to Saudi Arabia with projects like Layaly Compound, a residential development comprising of 60 villas and Samaya, a mixed-use development. Both the projects are under construction, the second one is in the final design phase.

Also worth mentioning is the developer’s recent acquisition of the Broumana Lands in Lebanon, a plot of 144,000 square metres, located among the hills at 750 square metres above sea level. Broumana is 17km away from Beirut. The project is currently in its final design and permitting stage.

The company recently announced that it is developing Dh1.2 billion worth mega projects in Dubai and Riyadh in 2015. In Riyadh, Cayan Group acquired a prime commercial plot along King Fahed Road, where a state-of-the-art office building will soon be built. The company also acquired two lands on Umm Suqeim road in Dubai, for the location of its planned upscale residential and hotel apartment towers. The project will cater to the increasing demand for residential properties in the area.

Ahmed Al Hatti, President and Chairman of Cayan Group, said, “The strategic land purchases as well as our upcoming landmark projects in Dubai and Riyadh form part of our comprehensive plans for 2015. Our new undertakings at the start of the year are fully aligned with the booming hospitality, residential and office sectors in both cities. Similar to our previous property ventures in the region, our property developments will demonstrate excellence and craftsmanship that we are known for, as we aim once again to set new benchmarks across regional and global industries. Furthermore, we hope to meet the rising demand from various sectors, especially from the residential segment, by offering prime properties that meet the highest international standards.”

In an exclusive interview with Gulf Property, Hatti talks about their comprehensive plans for 2015 and their new undertakings around the region. Excerpts:

Gulf Property: Give us a brief overview of Cayan Group. What do you think of the company’s current position in the UAE market as a real estate developer?

Ahmed Al Hatti: In spite of being a Saudi company, we have chosen to enter the UAE market and start the company 10 years ago in Dubai. During this decade we launched and handed over several iconic projects in both UAE and KSA. During the recent economic gridlock, we focused on completing our projects and delivering on our promises, we still had two mega projects under construction in Dubai during that time which were finally delivered in 2011.

Currently, we are quite excited about 2015--we have been restructuring the company from last year and have decided that this will be the year where we kick off all our activities in the region as well as in Dubai, where Expo 2020 will be happening.

As for the shares that we command in the market, we consider Cayan to be one of the leading developers in the region. We do not develop on any random plots and we are very particular about the products that we deliver. Cayan have a good position in the market and its clients have immense confidence in its projects.

What and where will your focus of the company in the coming year 2015? What plans do you have to strengthen the company?

We have learnt a lot from the financial crisis. We believe in developing our projects in a good location and then selling it. Now, we are more focussed on diversifying our products—concentrating on prime residential developments, on the hospitality and retail side and the move towards tapping into newer destinations.

In Dubai most of our projects are in Dubai Marina. For 2015, we are branching out to a new area, Umm Suqeim Road in Dubai, as we believe that there is good growth opportunity in it. We are also studying some other areas in Dubai, which will be announced over time. As a regional company, we have also announced office buildings in Saudi Arabia.

In Cayan Group, we focus on smart iconic designs for our buildings, since we want our developments to stand out. We have a very good efficiency rate and we give a great attention to the satisfaction of our clients.

Give us a brief overview of the projects that Cayan group is currently developing across the region?

2014 was more about restructuring the company and focusing on the manpower we had and preparing ourselves for 2015, whereby now we have started announcing our new projects. Our iconic project in Dubai Marina, Cayan Tower, was handed over in 2013, though we faced a lot of challenges for that project. All of our projects are self-financed.

In 2015, we will be developing Dh1.2 billion worth of mega property projects in Dubai, UAE and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. We have also acquired two lands on Umm Suqeim road for the location of our planned upscale residential and hotel apartment towers. It will be a mixed use community, which will mainly have three components-- hotel, residential and retail.

We have also acquired a prime commercial plot along King Fahed Road in Riyadh, where we plan to set up a state-of-the-art office building. In addition, we also secured a good property in Broumana, Lebanon, where we are developing a master planned community.

There are multiple foreign builders, from India, Turkey and many other nations, who are increasingly doing business in the UAE. What is your opinion about them? Has this stiff competition in the UAE market affected/affecting your business?

Competition is always healthy, the more the competition, the more the developers will stand out with their projects. We look at Dubai market now and compare it with the market from 10 years ago.

At that time, any individual was able to announce himself as a developer without strict regulations. The situation is now different as there are strict regulations recently implemented by RERA, which we are extremely happy about.

Previously, Dubai was more of a speculative market, now we have a normal mix. The more we are in a stable market without any surprises, the more the market will be qualified and safe for everyone.

Dubai is not a place where you only come as a tourist. It is a hub where people from various countries usually stay and do business. Investors believe, that still after the financial crisis, Dubai has grown to be much stronger and consider it a place to retain their investment.

Is Cayan Group catering to only high-end buyers through luxury projects or is affordable housing also on the cards?

We are definitely high-end, but we can say that Cayan projects are unique and iconic. This is how we want to define ourselves and this is how we want to stand out. The products that we bring to the market are really special. High-end development does not mean that the project has to be the most expensive in the market. We believe, our projects are unique and smart and can be still afforded by people looking for high quality.

The Dubai market has become quite matured over the years, which is reflected in the presence of different developers specialising in different areas of development, as our target is the upper-mid segment. Since everybody is willing to invest in Dubai, clients always look for smart building where there is proper value for money. We believe in providing them with that.

How much landbank does Cayan possess in the region? Any plans for developing them soon?

Most of our landbanks are in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. Some of our mega projects that we are currently constructing, are in joint ventures with other companies. But I cannot disclose any names now.

We are studying a new mixed use commercial project in Dubai, where it will consist of office spaces along with a retail shopping area.

For the recently announced hotel apartment in Dubai, we haven’t finalised the operator yet, but we do not have any intentions of being the hotel operator ourselves. We will soon be inviting the hotel operators for the bidding.

Overall, real estate still remains a lucrative sector in the UAE. How viable would you say it is?

There was noticeable growth in the Dubai real estate market in 2014. Currently it is a stable market, which is the kind of a market we believe in. It is the best time now that we can plan our strategies for the future.

The market has its share of ups and downs, but we also believe that there are now good opportunities for smart developers. I keep on hearing that sales volumes have gone down and the market has softened but I can’t rely on that.

We believe that as long as we bring in quality products, this market will support the developers who knows what and how to develop. Also, the position we have with our branch in Saudi Arabia give us an edge over others.

Any other plans of expanding overseas?
Most of our projects are located in Dubai, where we focused on residential first, then we branched out to commercial buildings with Cayan Business Centre. Later we expanded with several commercial projects in Saudi Arabia.

Dubai is one of the markets that we completely believe in, hence we are expanding with more than one project in Dubai. We have also been offered some opportunities in London, which we are currently studying. Wherever there is an opportunity, we study it, evaluate it and then we kick it.

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