Veteran developer Sameh Muhtadi was appointed the chief executive of Bloom Holding in April after a 30-year career at companies including Arabtec, Emaar Properties Misr and Orascom Contrack. Mr Muhtadi has been tasked with overseeing Bloom’s ambitious new projects including delivering Bloom Gardens, a partially completed villa project near Khalifa Park in Abu Dhabi; Soho Square, a collection of 302 homes next to New York University on Saadiyat Island; and a new office and hotel complex on Airport Road.
How would you describe your year?
The year was incredible for Bloom. We quadrupled our offering and achieved stellar results. Our projects are one of a kind and, as such, were less affected by general market trends. We believe that we have the right product, in the right location at the right price. This is our winning formula. Our projects are ideally located on Abu Dhabi island, which is a highly desirable location for Emiratis, and on Saadiyaat, a place destined to become Abu Dhabi’s premier residential district. None of our projects is on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi or more than five minutes from the city centre.
What effect is the fall of oil prices having on the property market?
The effect of oil prices may have an impact on the property and leasing market for a temporary period. Demand is directly linked to the economy and government expenditures. Should there be a reduction in investments it will likely impact the number of newcomers to Abu Dhabi, which in turn will affect demand. Similarly, uncertainty in the economic outlook will cause some investors to hold off on making investment decisions. However, the supply and demand in Abu Dhabi is balanced.
What are your predictions for the Abu Dhabi housing market over the coming year?
This is purely a supply and demand dynamic. The past few years, a relatively little supply has been added to Abu Dhabi, which in turn will moderate any downwards pressure on rental rates. We continue to witness strong rental demand for our Bloom Gardens, Bloom Central and Abu Dhabi Marina projects.
Why is there not more affordable housing in the UAE?
Bloom Properties is in advanced designs with the intent to offer an affordable housing option to the market. We believe that this market segment cannot be ignored and must be satisfied by real estate developers. We will be announcing significant initiatives on affordable housing at the upcoming Cityscape Abu Dhabi event.
What are your predictions for the UAE property market in 2016?
Our prediction is that there will most likely be a softening in the real estate sector in 2016, but we are confident that every downturn will bring new opportunities that should be capitalised upon, including acquisitions and diversifications into defensive economic sectors. Bloom has ambitious plans for its education and healthcare businesses that will help us balance any negative real estate market impacts.
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