by URC | Press Release
In the second annual Building the Future Summit organized by Forbes Middle East, United Real Estate Company (URC) Vice Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Mazen Issam Hawwa, highlighted the changing trends and opportunities that emerged post-Covid 19 in the real estate sector as it sees a renewed demand for a different type of spaces in for residential, commercial and leisure developments that meet the change in lifestyles, work and leisure habits.
“There is no doubt that the two years of the pandemic affected developers financially, slowing down demand and increasing construction costs by around 6%,” said Mr. Hawwa. “However, the situation is not all that grim. Individuals are now looking for flexible living spaces and shared working units that are complemented with an outdoor setting, nature features and most importantly, activities and amenities.”
Mr. Hawwa emphasized on the traditional design of cities which usually has an epicentre of services, businesses and amenities, while residences expand around it. He said, “Sometimes, these cities lack the epicentre, and a random urban development grows, creating an unhealthy balance in the components of the city. Add to that a relatively young population in the Gulf and North Africa countries where young families are looking to settle in their first home. They live a fast-paced, heavily scheduled lifestyle. After the pandemic, people discovered a newfound liking to their surroundings. They are looking for enjoyments and less time spent commuting. They are looking to slow their lifestyle and businesses are enabling their employees to work virtually.”
Commenting on the results, URC Vice Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Mazen Issam Hawwa said, “The Company’s performance has significantly improved this year, despite the government-imposed health protocols and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic. The increase in net profits that URC has recorded resulting from growth in revenues from rental, hospitality, and real estate services. The Company also witnessed an improvement from associates share of income, in tandem with a successful outcome from its ongoing cost optimization initiatives, which achieved a decline in finance costs.”
“Developers are now competing to meet that renewed demand, specifically in Kuwait and other countries in the Middle East where our company operated. This is a direction that URC had adopted as part of its strategy years ago, having anticipated the need to shift the traditional way for viewing developing and move into designing modern, fully-integrated healthy spaces that bring together living, working, amenities and leisure in one place,” Mr. Hawwa added.
Mr. Hawwa said about URC’s strategy, “We are not building houses, we are developing unique lifestyle experiences. We are not building projects; we are designing communities that meet our customers’ aspirations. Our developments have been connecting people in common activities such as our Marina World development in Kuwait which integrates shopping, leisure, sports activities, beachside experience, and year-long activities to bring and together every stamp of the community. We’re delivering it as well in our Hessah district and the Assoufid development in Marrakech Morocco where we are tying up with Marriott on the hotel and branded residences.”
He concluded, “At URC, we’re looking at urban design as a way to embrace convenience and nature, characterized by functional residential units, beautiful, pedestrian-friendly landscapes, modern walkways, health amenities, open parks, green spaces, public plazas, and of course the convenience of a retail outlets that add value to the overall lifestyle.”
URC's portfolio of assets is geographically spread throughout the MENA region such as Hessah district, Marina World, Marina Hotel, and KIPCO Tower in Kuwait, Assoufid in Morocco, Salalah Gardens Mall & Residences in Oman, Abdali Mall in Jordan, Raouche View 1090 in Lebanon, as well as Hilton Cairo Heliopolis & Waldorf Astoria Hotels, and Aswar Residences in Egypt.