Damac chief compares Dubai Akoya to Beverly Hills

Damac chief compares Dubai Akoya to Beverly Hills
Published: 12 May 2013 - 5 p.m.
By: Courtney Trenwith

Developer Damac Properties says its new master plan development centred around a golf course “deserves to become the Beverly Hills of Dubai”.

Located near Arabian Ranches and Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club, Akoya by Damac will include high class villas, townhouses and amenities, as well as an 18-hole PGA Championship golf course, to be named Trump International Golf Club, after the eccentric US businessman.

The Dubai-based developer said construction already had started and the course - spread across 6588 metres and with a par of 71 - would be ready for play next year.

Damac managing director Ziad El Chaar said the $2.5bn development over 28,000 square metres would become one of the most sought after areas to live in Dubai.

“Because of the location we thought that it deserves to be the Beverly Hills of Dubai,” he said.

“It’s going to have distinctive styling and architecture. It’s going to have different styles for the villas - it won’t have your collection of similar styles - and it’s going to be overlooking the best golf course in Dubai.”

El Chaar said it would be built in at least 10 stages but it would be completed within 10 years.

The timeframe is more ambitious than other major developments in Dubai. The first phase of the mammoth Mohammed bin Rashid City – which will include the world's biggest shopping mall, more than 100 hotels, a Universal Studios franchise and a public park larger than Hyde Park – will not be completed for seven years, according to the head of one of the developers involved in the project.

El Chaar said Damac hoped some of the residences in Akoya would be designed by its existing partners, fashion houses Fendi and Versace.

“We now have a number of tie-ups - with Fendi, with Versace, with [movie-makers] Paramount. We will try to leverage our relationships with those partners in most of the projects [in the master development],” El Chaar said.

“It’s still a bit early to say [specifically] ... but we are always trying to expand our partnerships with our existing partners.”

It is the first time the developer has partnered with The Trump Organisation, which has scrapped plans to build a skyscraper hotel on Palm Jumeirah with master developer, Nakheel.

El Chaar said the emirate had become a key golfing destination and another international standard course was needed.

“Golf is in demand in Dubai and Dubai is now featured in the top 10 destinations for golf around the globe,” he said.

“Dubai is now featured as one of the areas which is a target for golf tourists. So ... having a premium golf course in Dubai is a natural evolution.”

El Chaar defended the firm’s decision to use the Trump branding rather than linking up with a famed golfer, such as Tiger Woods, who has lent his name to the stalled golf course that was being built in Dubailand.

“Internationally, golfers would like very much to be part of a Trump golf course because if you subscribe to one Trump golf club you automatically become a member in the other Trump golf clubs, also,” El Chaar said.

“The tie-up between Damac and Trump is a luxury tie-up, because The Trump Organisation has been providing luxury developments in all aspects, in residential, in commercial, in hotels and in golf. I think they are the only company in the world that specialises in premium golf courses.

“Usually the other golf courses are tied-up with a golf player [and the course] is just about the golf, than the premium-ness of the course and the golf club and the facilities and the services we’re able to give the members at this golf club.”

Akoya by Damac is the developer’s fifth major project announced already this year. It also is on the verge of confirming a second Damac by Paramount hotel in Riyadh.

El Chaar said the company had sufficient liquidity to fund its projects but it may soon seek investment from banks. An IPO also had not been ruled out.

“We have not started this but we may be tying up with some banks,” he said.

“[For] a company of our size, [an IPO] is one of the roots for us to grow and have opportunities. This is always on the table for a company of our size.”

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