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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Azizi Developments seeks to expand hotel business outside the UAE

Dubai-based developer eyeing India, Seychelles for new openings, chairman says

Mirwais Azizi, chairman and owner of Azizi Group, said the company eyes expansion of its hospitality business outside the UAE, while speaking at the Dubai Property Festival on Monday. Antonie Robertson/The National
Mirwais Azizi, chairman and owner of Azizi Group, said the company eyes expansion of its hospitality business outside the UAE, while speaking at the Dubai Property Festival on Monday. Antonie Robertson/The National

Azizi Developments, a Dubai-based real estate developer, plans to expand its hospitality business outside the UAE, as it grows its portfolio on the back of improving global economic sentiment.

“In future, Azizi will go for hotel business in other countries,” said Mirwais Azizi, chairman and owner of the Azizi Group, which counts banking and investment among its operations as well as real estate development.

“We are looking at markets such as the Seychelles, Maldives and India – countries where there are high numbers of tourists,” he said in an interview with The National at the Dubai Property Festival on Monday.

Azizi’s international team is working on early-stage plans and the group is targeting an announcement in the second half of this year, Mr Azizi said. He declined to reveal further details of any prospective deal, including the location.

The UAE property market has slowed in recent years on the back of a three-year oil slump that caused job losses and dampened demand, leading to ongoing declines in residential sales and rental prices. Analysts predict the market will continue to decline, at a slower rate, for much of 2018.

The sluggish conditions have prompted some developers to diversify their operations, with forays into international markets – such as Dubai’s largest real estate company Emaar Properties’ planned schemes in North Africa and Europe – and expansions into hospitality and other sub-sectors.

Last September, Dubai-based Union Properties created two fully owned subsidiaries in retail and hospitality – Union Malls and Al Etihad Hotel Management, the latter of which will develop and manage luxury hotels and furnished residences in Dubai.

Azizi entered the hospitality sector in April 2016 with its first serviced apartments project, Candace at Dubai’s Al Furjan, which the company said at the time was a Dh460 million scheme to be operated by Candace Hotels and Resorts.

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Mr Azizi told The National the group’s hospitality development pipeline is full until 2020, with no plans to announce further schemes in the UAE or elsewhere until after Expo 2020 in Dubai. However, across all sectors, Azizi Developments’ chief executive Farhad Azizi told The National last September the group planned to expand its presence to other emirates from 2018, including in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman, where it already has land.

Azizi is currently marketing two community schemes in Meydan, close to Downtown Dubai – Azizi Riviera and Azizi Victoria.

Other projects include the newly completed Azizi Mirage 1 in Dubai Studio City, Azizi Grand in Dubai Sports City, and three residential buildings in Meydan Avenue, as well as a string of off-plan projects.

The developer is financing the construction of these developments through a combination of historic and current unit sales, together with around 10-15 per cent bank financing.

While the group is in “continuous talks” with banks, there are no plans to seek additional debt financing in 2018, Mr Azizi said.