Damac says focus now is project completions

DUBAI — Dubai-based Damac Properties is focused on completing projects in the Middle East and North Africa but also in talks about work in Iraq after a big project there was shelved, an executive said.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Thu 12 Aug 2010, 11:02 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:45 PM

“The focus now is not on launching new projects. We have to consolidate what we started,” General Manager Ziad El Chaar told Reuters in an interview.

Its main developments are in the UAE and Egypt and the company expects to hand over seven projects, totalling 3,900 units of residential, retail and commercial space in Dubai by the first quarter of 2011, Chaar said.

It has delivered 3,500 units this year, he added.

Damac is building 12,500 units across its markets in the Gulf Arab region, Egypt and Lebanon, most set to be handed over by early 2013.

It also has projects in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In July, Damac awarded a $120 million contract in Jeddah to Drake & Scull International, as more UAE property firms tap huge demand in Saudi Arabia.

Several developers in the UAE have changed their portfolios since the economic downturn to include building homes for middle and low income sectors, but Damac is staying with the luxury segment.

“This is the core competence of the company,” Chaar said.

“With prices moving towards a more affordable arena, I think from all the countries where we originally had buyers, we are seeing those buyers coming back,” Chaar said, adding typical buyers were now buying properties for living and leasing purposes rather than quick sales.

Damac cut a number of jobs as a result of the economic downturn but has been hiring “for some time” in the project management department as it looks to complete projects, he said.

The developer is still in talks with the Kurdistan government in northern Iraq over opportunities in the country, after a Dh55 billion ($14.97 billion) Damac project there was stopped last year, Chaar said.

Damac announced the Tarin Hills residential, commercial and hospitality development in 2008.

“It was an amicable decision between both parties that the product in its format wouldn’t be feasible, so the licence expired,” said Niall McLoughlin, senior vice president for marketing and corporate communications.

“We are in negotiations about how we can work with the government to bring in a product to the market that fits with customer demands. We are looking at a whole host of possibilities.”

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