Gulf Insider interviews Ahmed Alammadi, CEO of Diyar Al Muharraq.
What is your personal background and leadership style, and how has it helped you maneuver during this crisis?
On both a personal and professional perspective, I believe in the power of people. As a leader, I believe in deescalating; meaning, in order to remain calm and productive, our employees had to be reassured that all the precautionary measures were taken into consideration in order to first and foremost protect them, and then comes maintaining business continuity.
Diyar Al Muharraq has been referred to as a futuristic project. How so, and what’s unique about it?
Diyar Al Muharraq has always been an innovator in the Bahraini market.Our focus comes into 3 aspects of sustainability, economic, environmental, and social. On an economic front, we have included a wide range of business and investment opportunities in Diyar Al Muharraq that range from small retail shops to luxury malls and world class hotels. From an environmental front, we have introduced many new technologies that have then inspired the Kingdom of Bahrain to implement those technologies throughout the Kingdom, such as the use of energy saving LED street lights.
Finally, on a social front,we believe that every development,whether a property or a city, is firstly made for people and not robots. With that being said, we have incorporated communal spaces, interconnected bicycle and running lanes throughout the city, to promote having a close-knit community where people will have a lot of opportunities to have friendly conversations and get to know each other.
Can you talk us through the timeline of the project? How much has been completed and handed over so far?
Diyar Homes 1 & 2 – 100% Complete Deerat Al Oyoun Social Housing Development – 100% Complete
Al Naseem Gated Community – 10% Complete
Al Bareh Development – Housing and Infrastructure – 80% Complete
South Island Primary Infrastructure 70% Complete
TPD’s progressing well, i.e. Marassi, Schools, Souq Al Baraha
Overall, 40% – 50% of the South Island has or is in the process of being handed over to end users or buyers. It is anticipated that the Southern Island will be substantially built-out within the next 5 to 10 years.
What’s been the big lessons for you on this project?
The ability to react confidently, calmly and consistently to a crisis situation. As a team of professionals, we are all trained in managing the internal and external factors which impact upon our development but a factor as unprecedented as the pandemic has tested that training to the maximum.I believe we are managing this crisis extremely well.
Is there scope for digital transformation in the real estate sector?
We live in an era where technology has revolutionized our daily lives. Like most sectors, the real estate sector has also transformed into the digital world.
We have added new digital services,the Virtual Property Advisor and TIO Virtual Engineer, which are aimed at both potential buyers and existing residents of Diyar Al Muharraq, to provide them with safe and easy solutions from the comforts of their homes.
We have also been able to become more efficient during our design and construction phases by digitally obtaining all the information needed in order to apply for building permits and pay fees, by using Benayat.
What are your short and long term predictions for GCC real estate sectors, starting with Bahrain?
As our Kingdom and neighboring countries continue to evolve, we see an increase in both local and international demand for real estate in the GCC.
Bahrain has witnessed a big increase in the demand for real estate by Bahraini nationals in the past few years. Years ago, our government had come up with initiatives to support and aid Bahraini nationals in purchasing their primary homes. This has highly increased the demand for real estate within the country and has led to the success of many real estate developers. Due to the relatively lower prices and more lenient ownership rules, real estate in Bahrain has been highly sought after by expats who consider Bahrain as their summer vacation destination, or simply an investment destination where they purchase properties and rent them out to other expats.