Cayan Group chairman talks Gulf, Europe expansion plans
31/05/2016 Argaam Exclusive
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by Joumana Saad
Riyadh-based developer Cayan Group has its sights set on expansion as it looks to meet growing demand for quality housing in Saudi Arabia. The company is boosting its hospitality presence within the United Arab Emirates, and is planning new ventures in Europe, group president andchairman, Ahmed Alhatti, tells Argaam.
Q: How would you describe the company's performance in the first quarter of 2016 and what is your outlook for the rest of the year?
A: Cayan Group’s performance in 2016 has been positive. The group’s expansion plans have progressed without disruption and benefitted from a relatively stable market, even though there have been some shocks that continued from the final quarter of Q4-2015, in regards to the oil and gas industry. The Group is also in the process of reviewing and finalizing new projects which will be announced soon.
Q: How has the company dealt with the slowdown in the Saudi construction sector?
A: Beginning in 2015 with the slump in oil prices, there has been some shock and volatility in the Saudi market which has spilled over into all other areas of the economy. However, the markets have now stabilized and so Cayan’s development plans are progressing as expected.
Q: Can you elaborate on progress related to the company's expansion plans?
A: Within the GCC, most of Cayan’s expansion plans are progressing in the Saudi real estate market. Samaya (a mixed use residential compound) and the CMC Tower (commercial use nearing completion), are currently on-going projects in Saudi Arabia. We have also completed the residential Layaly Compound, and will be planning, reviewing, and finalizing further mixed-use developmental projects in the residential and retail sectors.
In the UAE, we are also progressing with our planned projects. For instance, we have been planning and conducting projects through our subsidiaries such as Cayan Hospitality, which recently launched the first LivNordic Spa in UAE at Cayan Tower. We are also progressing with the development of Cayan Cantara (a branded residential and hotel apartment project) as well, considering other projects in UAE. We are finalizing projects in some European countries, of which information will be shared later.
Q: What segments will be targeted in Dubai, given demand levels in the property market and Expo 2020 just a few years away?
A: Economic development in Dubai is going through an interesting phase with the Expo 2020 around the corner, and an awareness of environmental sustainability, and green measures in construction increasing. We have taken the trends in Dubai into consideration when planning our projects.
As of now our main real-estate project is a mixed-use residential and hospitality project, the Cayan Cantara, which is ongoing. As a strategic response to economic development in Dubai, we are very interested in developing our presence in hospitality through our subsidiary Cayan Hospitality. However, we will continue to evaluate all possible real estate and other development projects based on the needs and requirements of the Dubai market, and invest accordingly.
Q: As oil prices have gone south, what has been your biggest challenge over the last few years and how is the company addressing it?
A: One of the biggest challenges has been the calming of investor nerves, and also reassuring investors and all stakeholders— including the public— of the durability and continuation of our projects. We have held regular meetings and outreach programs with those invested in our projects and interested in knowing how the Group is handling any perceived volatility in the market. Communicating the nature of our projects, including the exclusiveness of our unique design, and focus on higher-standard of living has been difficult, but it has been a good move to do so.