Real Estate Industry: CEO Alaa Zayed Talks Latest News and Projects at VAAL Real Estate Ghana

In this exclusive interview, Co-Founder and CEO Alaa Zayed talks latest news and projects at VAAL Real Estate Ghana, including Harmonia Residence, Harmonia Villas, and an upcoming mixed-use project in Ridge, Accra. He also shares his vision for VAAL Real Estate in terms of expansion plans and discusses investments in the real estate market.

Interview with Alaa Zayed, Co-Founder and CEO at VAAL Real Estate Ghana

Alaa Zayed, Co-Founder and CEO at VAAL Real Estate Ghana

Could you introduce yourself and your projects?

I am Alaa Zayed, the CEO and co-founder of VAAL Real Estate in Ghana. With over 20 years of experience in the real estate industry, we started our journey in Egypt where we delivered more than 100 certified projects in the capital. In 2016, we expanded our operations outside of Egypt and decided to focus on Sub-Saharan Africa due to the abundance of opportunities available. However, with opportunities come challenges. In Kenya, we currently have seven mega projects, three of which have already been handed over to residents, and we are now one of the top three real estate developers in Nairobi. In 2016, we also established our headquarters in the heart of Turkey, in the Sisli district in Istanbul, at the Trump Tower. By the end of 2019, we moved to Ghana, as it is the hub for the West African market. We conducted market research on the real estate industry and established our branch in Ghana after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, we launched our first two projects in Accra. The first one, called Harmonia Residence, is a mixed-use building with 17 floors of luxurious apartments and studios ranging from one to three bedrooms, as well as penthouses. The residence includes a restaurant, mini-market, pharmacy, kids’ area, gymnasium, and swimming pool, providing all necessary facilities. The second project is Harmonia Villas, situated in the heart of Cantonments. It consists of a gated community with eight villas, each having its private swimming pool and parking. This is one of our unique selling points in the real estate market, especially in this project. Other similar projects usually offer semi-detached villas, but we focused on providing privacy to the buyers, even in semi-detached or townhouse designs. Therefore, we requested the architect to connect the villas in only one point, which is the staircase. This design allows the villas to be connected yet not connected, providing total privacy to each villa. Furthermore, we concentrated on providing separate facilities for each villa, as we observed that buyers of this level of villas tend to prefer using private facilities instead of common ones, unlike apartment buildings. To address this, we provided each villa with its private swimming pool, parking, garden, and even a private rooftop area with a barbecue facility. We ensured that each villa had its own standalone facilities, making it a unique combination of standalone villas and townhouses.

What is your competitive advantage? What sets you apart in this competitive market?

Our differentiating factor in this market is our focus on adding value to each project. By added value, I mean maintaining high quality standards that exceed the standard quality offered in the market. We have implemented these standards successfully in other markets and countries, which enables us to compete effectively. Additionally, we conduct focus groups for each project to identify and add something new that provides value to the residents. The added value is dependent on the specific type of project.

What properties are still available to buy?

Regarding availability, the Harmonia Residence is now 75% sold out, with less than 35 units remaining for sale in the last phase. As for Harmonia Villas, only one unit is available. Additionally, we are planning to launch our upcoming mixed-use project in Ridge, which will have fifteen floors. When we entered the Ghanaian market, we conducted research on prime locations because, as we know from previous experience, the first aspect buyers look for in real estate is the location. Therefore, we decided to focus on working in the top three prime locations, which are Cantonments, Airport, and Labone, and we included Ridge in our selection because it is a nearby area. There is also a fourth prime location, East Legon. However, we prioritize serving our clients with the highest level of satisfaction. Unfortunately, East Legon has some traffic issues, which can be a challenge for those entering or exiting the area. Despite this, we still keep it on our list of locations. The government is currently constructing new roads and bridges to solve the traffic problem, and once the issue is resolved, we can consider working in East Legon as well.

Could you provide more information about the new Ridge project?

Our upcoming project in Ridge is a mixed-use development situated on a corner plot along the Ring Road in prime Accra. It will have a range of amenities including restaurants, markets, pharmacies, spas, swimming pools, kid’s areas, and basement parking. Additionally, you can enjoy an ocean view from the higher floors, and is visible from the fifth floor onwards due to its proximity to the ocean.

Nowadays, people, especially those interested in high-end residences, are increasingly concerned about the environment. They want to know if the buildings are sustainable. What is your view on this?

In Ghana, there are environmental challenges, particularly related to the lack of reliable access to electricity and water. To address these issues, we prioritize green architecture in our projects and leverage technology to find solutions. For example, we have a backup system for water and electricity that provides 24-hour coverage. Additionally, we plan to use solar power for electricity, even though it is expensive, as it is a sustainable solution in the long run. When we test underground water sources and find that some are suitable, we plan to install a recycling system in the building’s basement to reuse the water. The key is to understand the environment and its problems and find ways to solve them for the people. We are constantly working to address these issues, and our focus is on electricity and water.

Could you elaborate on your mission, vision, and what you aim to bring to the real estate industry?

We plan to start with 10 projects in the residential, luxurious apartments, and townhouses sectors within the next three years in Ghana. We chose this country as our starting point because it is a hub for West Africa. We are already operating in East Africa, in Kenya, and have recently expanded to Uganda. Our plans are also to penetrate the Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire markets, but we are currently studying their cultures and environments as we know that adapting to the market is crucial. Our vision is to provide people with proper and comfortable shelter, whether they are buying for investment or living. Real estate is considered the safest investment. People feel comfortable investing in it when they find trustworthy partners. We want to be the most trusted option for people to invest with. When people are looking for a place to live, they want to feel comfortable and safe. Our goal is to serve clients worldwide.

You come from an engineering background, specializing in architecture, and hold an MBA to run a company, with 20 years of experience in the field. Your objective is to introduce your expertise to the Ghana market. What motivated you to pursue this profession? What is the driving force behind your decision? Is it passion?

Exactly, my personal passion is architecture. I studied architecture a long time ago, and then I shifted a little bit towards business and investment. I pursued my MBA and DBA to learn more about these fields, but my passion still lies in architecture as it is related to people’s lives and how they live. My personal vision is to be a reason for improving people’s lives, to help them achieve their dreams. With my background in architecture, I can contribute to achieving this vision, and it can also help me in my business. As you know, business is a win-win situation, where you serve people, they give you their money, and everyone is happy at the end of the day. This is my personal vision, to serve people through my passion for architecture, and through our business in real estate, to create a win-win situation between us and our clients.


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