Q&A: DR. DIA MALAEB CEO EMAAR PAKISTAN

Nov 16 - 22, 2009

WE KNOW THAT YOU HAVE COME FROM A REPUTABLE GROUP OF COMPANIES WHICH BUILT THE MASJID UL HARAM. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT TAKING THE HELM OF EMAAR PAKISTAN?

Pakistan is one of the key markets for Emaar Properties, and it is my privilege to lead the company in this dynamic country. I have over 25 years of experience working with contracting, project management and real estate development. Over the years, I have been fortunate to work with several prestigious projects in Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Managing large-scale projects is one of my areas of expertise, which is extremely important to my work in Pakistan.

GIVE US A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF EMAAR PROPERTIES PJSC?

Emaar Properties is one of the world's largest property developers. Headquartered in Dubai, the company has outlined its Vision 2010 to become one of the most valuable companies in the world. This is through a two-pronged approach of geographic expansion and business segmentation. Emaar now has a significant presence in 36 markets and have expanded into healthcare, education, hospitality & leisure, financial services and shopping malls. This fits with Emaar's operational philosophy of creating integrated lifestyle communities. Emaar is the pioneer of master-planned communities in Dubai, and is developing several world-class projects like Burj Dubai, the world's tallest building and King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia, which is the largest private sector development in the region. Emaar works with local partners and energizes the economies by creating new jobs and supporting ancillary industries, thus making the company a partner in the progress of the nation it is associated with.

WHAT DID REALLY MAKE EMAAR TO EMBARK ON MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR MASTER PLANNED PROJECTS IN PAKISTAN? PERHAPS, NOT MANY THERE ARE TO AFFORD HIGH-END DWELLINGS. THAT SAID A LOCAL NICHE COULD NOT MAKE YOU TO CAPITALIZE ON IT.

I firmly believe that real estate growth is a reflection of the overall demand. One cannot create artificial demand. Pakistan is a fast-growing nation with a youthful population. The country has a strong segment of upwardly mobile young professionals, who are looking for world-class residences and offices. Their demand will drive the real estate sector forward in the coming years. Emaar is one of the largest foreign investors in the property sector of Pakistan. It is introducing the concept of master-planned communities to the country. People can live, work, and play in the integrated communities. Projects are planned in accordance with the international standards. Through our projects we are creating new job opportunities and further strengthening the local economy. We are introducing new construction techniques to Pakistan and working with local contractors.

WHAT PROJECTS HAS EMAAR UNDERTAKEN IN PAKISTAN?

Emaar Pakistan has unveiled three strategic projects in Pakistan two in Islamabad and one in Karachi. We are developing Highlands and Canyon Views in Islamabad and Crescent Bay in Karachi. These are part of a US$2.4 billion investment in the country by Emaar. All three are master-planned communities offering world-class residences, commercial space, hospitality projects and shopping centres. We have already launched Crescent Bay and Canyon Views and recorded overwhelming investors' response. Investors have come not only from Pakistan but also overseas markets. Work is underway on these projects.

HOW WOULD YOU STRATEGIZE YOUR PROJECTS IN PAKISTAN CONSIDERING CURRENT GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRUNCH?

This is a very important question. First of all, we have to admit that the global financial crisis has made an impact in several world economies. However, what we must be careful is to be not carried away by rumors and speculation. Pakistan has its own growth model, which focuses on its industries, tourism, and information technology. We must be careful to see the positive sides in any challenging situation because what is important now is to restore market confidence. The country is investing heavily in infrastructure development, which will lead to job creation and more industries. For Emaar, the priority is to maximize on our resource use efficiency. We are therefore leveraging on best practices and careful financial planning.

HOW EMAAR'S OFFERINGS ARE GOING TO BE DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHER REAL ESTATE PROJECTS IN PAKISTAN?

The key differential is our approach to create integrated master-planned communities. This means you will have a work, live and play environment that will enhance the lifestyle of residents. All our communities support a healthy lifestyle. There are wide open spaces, parks, recreation areas and community centres. The build quality is also far superior. We are using international designers for the projects, and leverage on the expertise of the local contractors for project execution.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS? IS THERE A POSSIBILITY OF EMAAR VENTURING INTO SECTORS OTHER THAN REAL ESTATE IN PAKISTAN?

We are open to new projects on a case-by-case basis. Currently, we are focusing on-schedule completion of our projects. In line with the growth philosophy of Emaar, we will expand to other areas in which we already have strong competencies. These include shopping malls-Emaar has already opened one of the world's largest shopping and entertainment destinations, The Dubai Mall in Dubai-, hospitality & leisure, education and healthcare.