UAE Zones: Dubai Investments Park

General Manager of Dubai Investments Park Mainly, we are not a free zone area so major tenants or clients are GCC market companies and from the domestic market, especially after converting so many areas from industrial to commercial, this is the ideal location or solution for those who have been shifted or are going to shift from their old industrial location to the Dubai Investments Park.

Let’s start with a question about the economy. The UAE economy grew by 7.4% last year, compared to 2006. The economic diversification policies adopted by the UAE leadership were major factors behind this growth. So, how do you feel about Dubai’s economy and the fulfillment of the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed?

Well I can assure that, based on his vision, since he became the prime minister of the cabinet, that it will grow more and more and this is based on facts and figures. Most of the economists are always recommending and upscaling the strategy that he initiated; we can feel the economy is becoming stronger. The currency and all other sectors are booming, not only the oil industry but the tourist and financial services, mainly the service sector. I think there will be much much better potential for the whole country in the future.

So, how does the Dubai Investments Park help to fulfill this vision in diversifying of the economy?

Well, the concept of the Dubai Investments Park is quite well diversified because it is a financial, residential, industrial development under one roof, which is the most unique project in the GCC market so far. You can live, work, and take your kids to school, and also entertain, under one roof, in the same place. So, you have your offices, you have your villas and warehouses, factories in the same place. That’s why it has recently become a hotspot in Dubai and the GCC market. So far we have around 10 GCC companies located in Dubai Investments Park and around 3 Italian companies and 2 German companies, as well as the domestic companies. Hosting around 1000 tenants in Dubai Investments Park, which is spread over 32 million square metres, it means that there is huge demand on Dubai Investments Park. This is only based on the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid and the encouragement he has given everybody here to provide a high level of services and customer relations or customer orientation. That’s why we are becoming one of the major developers or one of the major projectors and this is really required in the whole region.

Can you tell us more about the history and evolution? How did you arrive at this concept?

Well, the Board of Directors of Dubai Investments, a public joint venture company, approached the government 10 years ago to dedicate such an area to develop a unique concept: a project having residential, commercial and industrial, mainly for such development and the master plan was approved 2 years after the ratification, in 1998, I believe. The infrastructural work started with stage 1 by the end of 1998. We started leasing for the first time at the end of 1999 with a German company, I believe, Degussa. Then, we started encouraging people and the Green community’s first venture project developed in Dubai Investments Park. So, we started encouraging and attracting people to come and invest because of the infrastructure; we are developing power availability, water and high level telecommunications: we are providing a state-of-the-art infrastructure. That’s why, five years from the developing stage 1 infrastructure, we have around 600 tenants who are already registered and have signed the lease agreement with Dubai Investments Park, I’m proud to say this. At the current time, in 2008 exactly 10 years later, we are hosting around 1000 tenants in Dubai Investments Park between commercial, industrial and residential.

Dubai Investments Park is a fully-owned subsidiary of Dubai Investments so how do you fit into the group and the whole concept?

Well, Dubai Investments group is a public joint stock with around major 5 subsidiaries, which are Dubai Investments Park, Dubai Investments Real Estate, Dubai Investments Industry, Glass and M’sharie – in Arabic it is M’sharie but in English it means “enterprises”. Dubai Investments Park is perhaps the major player in the group, one of the major players in the whole group of Dubai Investments company. There are also other subsidiaries under the company of M’sharie and Dubai Investments Industry. So the whole group consists around 42 companies under the umbrella of Dubai Investments group.

Looking at the Dubai Investments Park from the investor perspective, if there were an investor interested in investing in the park, what could you offer?

Well, we are offering a full solution. We are offering infrastructure, we are offering space, we are offering this for manufacturers, distributors, freighters, consultants, and all other community facilities required for those people who are working in these cases. Other than this, there’s the location of Dubai Investments Park; it is located on the three major highways now in Dubai: Emirates Road, Sheikh Zayed Road and the Outer Bypass. It is around 17 km from Jebel Ali port and walking distance from Jebel Ali airport, which is exactly next to us. We’re also around 20-25 minutes away from Dubai International Airport. The location of Dubai Investments Park boosts our position compared to other developers. The infrastructure, the state-of-the-art, the followed requirements, works and telecommunication, this is the main thing that most investors are looking for. This is for manufacturers, for the residential. We are providing high standards of residential facilities, entertainment facilities, medical facilities – we have a hospital that will be handed over by May 2009, around 11 schools, around 7 hotels and 2 furnished apartment buildings. All this is available here, in Dubai Investments Park. So, it’s a full solution; you live, you work, and entertain in the same place. That’s why the concept – now once people come and live and feel these facilities are available, the concept of the whole idea becomes reality. People can start feeling that this concept can be applied and these are the advantages of the concept of Dubai Investments Park. It’s a whole solution; a city within a city.

Returning to the clients you mentioned, you have companies from Germany, companies from Italy. Who are your main clients?

Mainly, we are not a free zone area so major tenants or clients are GCC market companies and from the domestic market, especially after converting so many areas from industrial to commercial, this is the ideal location or solution for those who have been shifted or are going to shift from their old industrial location to the Dubai Investments Park. It’s a new facility, a new infrastructure, and very solid, that’s why we currently have above 600 applications from so many different people here, as well as outside, looking for a small piece of land in Dubai Investments Park to develop their facilities, whether residential, commercial or industrial.

Which are the most successful units? Industrial, commercial or residential?

Well, most applications are for logistical distribution and also for offices because of the big shortage in the market for this type of property. We are trying as much as possible to provide such a space for investors but there’s a certain area you cannot expand because there is a percentage you have to maintain. You cannot convert the whole space to residential or commercial or industrial, you have to balance, upscale them, which the master plan approved in 1998. So we are sticking to this master plan and percentage.

Could we say you are fully booked?Almost!So, there are other industrial parks like Dubai Investments City, Industrial City, and Technopark. Do they pose a challenge to you?

I think challenge is good for the end users and for the growth of the whole country. I think the country requires such facilities, the demand is very high. I think challenge will be good for me to enhance and develop my facilities and my services. I don’t think it’s so much a commercial challenge or a financial challenge, I think it will help the economy to grow. You can notice there is a shortage of this kind of development in the market, that’s why I think it’s not a challenge as much as it is really required. We are happy that new facilities have come that are doing something similar to Dubai Investments Park.

Do you think, in the future, competition might intensify, so much so that they actually become a threat to you?

I doubt that, but yes, there will be competition and, as I said, I think this will help us as Dubai Investments Park. We have to provide more services to keep our clients happy and this will add a lot of value to Dubai Investments Park.

You have announced major investment into the hospitality sector, the residential sector, into the leasing sector. How do you set this development? What were the factors behind expanding into those sectors?

The master plan, which was approved 10 years ago, had big support for hosting such facilities, that were diversified: as I said, hospitality, residential and community facilities: schools, hospitals, clinics, staff accommodation, labour accommodation, industrial facilities, and offices. So, because of the master plan and the diversification of the master plan itself, it supported us so that we could accommodate different types of investors and development in the Dubai Investments Park. I think the idea, or the strong back, of this concept is the government of Dubai. The support we have received from different authorities as well as from the Board of Directors of Dubai Investments Park who supported the idea from the very beginning, although there were a lot of obstacles in that time. 10 years ago, there was nothing, there was no life in this area and now, in 2008, we have more than 100,000 people living in Dubai Investments Park, around 300 construction sites – under construction, almost 450 operational developments: staff accommodation, hotels, schools, factories, warehouses, and 300 under construction. So, I think, as I said, the concept of Dubai Investments Park is a major supporter of the success of the idea.

So, is it becoming a separate new city centre or is it in connection with the other areas? Jebel Ali?

Four years ago, we were saying that Dubai Investments Park would be located in the south of Dubai, but now we can say that it will become the middle of the city because there are major developments exactly next to us; the new airport – Al Maktoum airport – is within walking distance, actually, the Jebel Ali port, the Palm Jumeira and Jebel Ali, Sport City, Motor City, and Jumeira Village South, so it’s easy to access. That’s why, in the coming 2 or 3 years, it will be in the middle of Dubai, the whole area here, not just Dubai Investments Park but the whole area and the area of Jebel Ali.

We’d like to maybe ask you what your future expansion plans are, except for the hotels and everything? In the future, let’s say 10 years from now.

Mainly Dubai Investments Park company has to develop the infrastructure. We are not developing any above ground facilities. Our business is to develop such facilities. We have received different proposals from in the GCC market to copy our project and the Board of Directors of Dubai Investments Park is studying these proposals and maybe we will come up with a new concept or something similar somewhere in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or Qatar or Bahrain. There is a plan from the Board of Directors to expand, not only in the UAE market, but in the GCC market, and this is only based on the overwhelming success of the concept of Dubai Investments Park.

Would you consider also expanding internationally? Not just in the GCC? Like to Europe?

Well, to Europe, so far, honestly, we haven’t received any proposals. But proposals are mainly in the GCC market and the Middle East region so the Board of Directors is studying them and we are just here to support them and to do as much as possible.

If I can ask you, you have been in the company for 6 years, what is your greatest achievement so far?

Well, the greatest achievement was when I arrived at Dubai Investments Park the first day. I couldn’t say anything! My office was in a porter cabin and only the Green Community was beginning construction. So, the second day I went to my CEO and I said “Ok, if you don’t want me to be in Dubai Investments you can just tell me, you don’t have to be here, but sending me in the middle of nowhere, it’s not fair!” So he said “no, this will be a really promising project” and I could not resist. At that time, there were about 7 of us working in porter cabins, 1 project under construction, one company, and one tenant, which was operational, was Degussa. Now, we have around 1,000 tenants and 100,000 people living there and around 60,000 people working on different sites and different projects. The traffic generation here is no comparison the time I came here to the Dubai Investments Park so I am really proud of what I can see now, compared to what I saw before. We have satellite pictures of Dubai Investments Park from 2002 and you can notice the big difference.

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