x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 September 2017

Dubai’s Azizi Developments eyes Abu Dhabi projects

The developer behind Dh12bn Azizi Riviera is looking to expand operations in Sharjah and Ajman

Visitors at the Azizi stands during the CityScape Global in Dubai. Satish Kumar / For The National.
Visitors at the Azizi stands during the CityScape Global in Dubai. Satish Kumar / For The National.

Azizi Developments, a Dubai-based real estate developer, plans to expand its presence to other emirates in the UAE and kick off multiple mixed-use developments in Abu Dhabi next year, its chief executive said.

“We have growth plans and are looking into expanding into the rest of the emirates now as we look at the [entire] UAE as a place of great opportunity,” Farhad Azizi told The National at Cityscape Global. After Dubai, Abu Dhabi "is our first priority”, he said, adding that the residential projects in Sharjah and Ajman are next on the agenda. The company already has land in Ajman.

Mr Azizi, declined to reveal the size or possible values of the developments in Abu Dhabi but said they will be residential projects with retail elements attached to them.

“We are trying to finalise the locations and plots to be bought in Abu Dhabi before the end of this year,” he said. The properties, however, would not be as big as the company's ongoing Dh12 billion Azizi Reviera project in Dubai’s Maydan One development.

Azizi, which has grown at a rapid pace over the past decade, said it sold all the units in phase one of the Riviera and 50 per cent of inventory of the waterfront development’s phase two on the first day of Cityscape in Dubai.

The company said it will announce two new mega developments at Meydan One in the fourth quarter of this year. They will be four times the size and value of its the Riviera project, which puts the combined estimated value of the new developments at Dh48bn.

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The UAE property market, which recovered well after the 2008 property crash, has faced headwinds in the past two years due to slower economic growth amid lower oil prices that dented investor sentiment. However, developers such as Azizi continued to launch multibillion-dollar projects such as Azizi Riviera, which comprises 69 mid-rise residential buildings of 13,000 units, a mega integrated retail district and two hotels.

The project commenced construction in July this year with completion of phase one and two scheduled for the second half of 2018. Mr Azizi said his company has no plans to borrow from debt capital markets to fund the construction of the current and future projects. Azizi will continue to rely on the equity of its parent Azizi Group, and rotation of cash flow through escrow accounts.

“Every unit we sell is a liability to us and we don’t plan to add more liabilities to the company by taking loans,” he said.

Mr Azizi does not plan on raising cash through equity markets in the immediate future via the sale of shares in the developer through an initial public offering (IPO).

“The IPO of Azizi is not a short-term plan,” he said, but added: “Should there be a need or should the opportunity arise, we will do it. We are not shy of doing it.”

Should the company decide to go public Dubai would be its listing destination, said Mr Azizi.