The events of 9/11 shook the entire West and the
United States in particular. The Americans turned their anger on the
immigrant Muslims, causing them irreparable miseries. Generations of
Pakistanis had been living in the United States for years and they
used to call it their home. Many held green cards and nationality.
They had by now forgotten the country of their origin or had a dim
recollection of it. The more recent generations had nothing to do with
Pakistan. Hence, after 9/11 when they found themselves under attack,
they were extremely disillusioned; their self assurance lay shattered.
They were filled with apprehension about their future. Consequently,
they began transferring their funds to Pakistan. According to a
Ministry of Finance report, Pakistanis in Europe and the US remitted
over seven billion dollars to their mother country. Most of it went
into real estate. It is worth mentioning that the capital which came
from abroad ended the slump that had gripped the property business for
years. It was a 'natural' hype. This massive investment circulated
like blood in the veins of real estate. Unfortunately, some
businessmen associated with this trade took to speculation. Purchase
and sale of files became the order of the day and was blazed as a
boom. But it was no boom at all. It was, in fact, sheer hypertension
which as expected led to a heart attack. At the moment it is lying in
the ICU. It is out of danger but will take a long time to bounce back.
Whatever was happening in the domain of real estate was quite contrary
to my own long experience in this trade. I wrote three articles on the
subject to forewarn the pressure in the trade. I was apprehensive that
this artificial hype would harm the business as a whole. When
something natural is put through an adverse process, it acquires a
worried shape and loses its original contours. I have resorted to the
use of medical metaphors to emphasize my point of view and save others
from committing the same error.
Now a word about the present and the likely future
of real estate. I take my hat off to President Pervaiz Musharraf for
putting Pakistan on the road to rapid development and utilizing all
his energies and recourses for the purpose. Prime Minister Shaukat
Aziz too, is motivated by a similar vision. In the Punjab, Chief
Minister Pervaiz Ellahi is also moving shoulder to shoulder with them.
It is President Musharraf's innermost desire that the fruits of
national progress should trickle down to the poor and the under
privileged. It was with that end in view that he urged Sheikh Nahyan
al Mubarak Nahyan, the nephew of Sheikh Zayed, to invest in Pakistan.
Sheikh Naahyan promised to do his best in this regard. As being
personally acquainted with Sheikh Nahyan, I know him to be a
high-minded man, an enlightened and humble soul who loves Pakistan and
believes in progress and development. He has a soft corner for Lahore
and his Dhabi Group accordingly chose this city to launch its first
project, namely, the Zayed Commercial Centre. The Chief Minister
readily allotted 91 kanals of government land on Ferozepur Road for
the purpose. The Zayed Commercial Centre project would be the largest
of its kind in South Asia and would cost 25 crore dollars. A day
before its inauguration, Sheikh Nahyan also signed an agreement for
the construction of a huge residential complex near Lahore which would
be spread over an area of 30,000 acres. In recognition of his
meritorious services, the President of Pakistan conferred the "Hilal-e-Pakistan"
on him. He certainly deserved it. I offer him my heartiest
congratulations on winning this coveted award. Here I must say a word
about Mr. Bashir Tahir, the financial advisor to Sheikh Nahyan. Mr.
Bashir is a wizard in his field and very loyal to the respected Shiekh.
As a Pakistani, he is always brimming with patriotic fervor for his
country. Mr. Bashir has played a notable role in the initiative of
It is the projects like these that I have in mind
when I speak of great changes (economic and social) in the offing. Two
projects have been initiated so far. One is the Zayed Commercial
Centre already referred above. It will be a magnificent project in
keeping with international standards. With a 45-storey edifice, it
would be the tallest and largest in Pakistan. It will comprise
apartments and a shopping area. The second, a 25-storey edifice, would
house a five star hotel. The third would be a 20-storey building,
comprising offices. It would also boast a banquet hall for 5000
persons, an amusement park and a parking lot for 4000 cars. Another
project that of a new city is being launched by the Dhabi Group across
the River Ravi on a trait of land measuring 30 thousand acres. It will
subscribe to international standards and have the capacity to house 15
lakh people; both the projects are likely to offer substantial
financial facilities to the buyers.
The real estate scenario in Lahore is thus
undergoing a radical change. Developers, investors, engineers and
others connected with the trade should gear up for these imminent
social and economic changes and adjust themselves accordingly. This is
the only route to survival. The coming change is a challenge that will
lead a new vitality to our creativity and passion for progress. Some
great projects are scheduled to come up in Lahore. The public will
soon learn about them. These projects, it may be added, are drawing
foreign investment on a massive scale.
President Musharraf, it is learnt, has also
suggested to Sheikh Nayan to consider the construction of a
residential complex in Islamabad on the other side of Margalla Hills.
The "Al-Ghurair" group of Dubai has already arrived in
Islamabad and initiated the residential plazas project in DHA. It is
the president's earnest desire that the target of 30 lakh houses,
which Pakistan needs, be achieved at all cost. Things are moving
forward in accordance with his programme. May Allah Almighty grant him
the strength to translate his dreams into reality. May He also grant
Sheikh Nahyan al Mubarak the best of health and all the success in the
world. His father's prayers are also with him because he is the most
obedient and devoted to his father that I have ever known.