In an exclusive interview with Azernews Sabina Mammadli, Partner & Managing Director of BlackOak Real Estate, a leading Dubai-based international property company, Riad Gohar spoke about the Dubai real estate sector, as well as the development of the real estate sector in Baku, gave advice to Azerbaijanis seeking business in the UAE and bilateral cooperation.
The discussion was held on the sidelines of the “Invest in Dubai” Business Luncheon held by Dubai Chambers International Office in Azerbaijan and UAE Embassy in Baku.
Q. Welcome to Baku. Please, tell our readers about you and the entity you represent.
A. Thank you so much for having us here. Such a great country, such a great place, and the people are just amazing. My name is Riad Gohar. I am an expert who resides in the United Arab Emirates. I’ve been living there for almost 20 years. Predominantly, my industry is real estate and construction. We are here under the support of the Dubai Chambers International Office in Azerbaijan to learn more about the country’s economy and culture, and at the same time, to find mutual opportunities where we can relate and bridge the gap.
Q. Can you talk about the nature and objectives of your visit?
A. Again, we are here to learn more about the economy of Azerbaijan, the financial needs, and the outlook of the macroeconomics, to offer opportunities in real estate, as well as expose Dubai’s culture and its financial instruments. Another objective is to see how we can connect the two countries and nations.
Q. Please, share your expectations about the “Invest in Dubai” Business Luncheon.
A. I’ve had an experience with Dubai Chambers in China and I know that when they do events, they are very solid and that they are very serious in their business. So, we are 100 percent sure that there will be an incredible future and continuous business together.
Q. Dubai has successfully diversified away from oil revenues into trade, logistics, tourism, real estate, and financial services. How have international investors benefited from this diversification?
A. Well, the UAE, and Abu Dhabi, specifically, were always oil producers and exporters. However, for the last 20 years, the UAE has been looking into this diversification, specifically, in aviation, tourism and services. Due to that, they had to create an incredible platform of security and regulation to cater to all this diversification. They are connected with their flights the entire world to Dubai. It became an international hub for business and leisure tourism. So with that, it created a lot of financial revenues so that when investors come to Dubai, they see year-on-year and month-on-month an increase in their revenues. A lot of companies have come here and started with a small office, and after a few years, they have listed their companies and so on. It is definitely a great vision that has been achieved and executed properly.
Q. You are visiting Baku in partnership with Dubai Chambers. How does Dubai International Chamber support international business development for companies such as yours?
A. It is a great initiative of the Dubai Chambers. They enable local businesses to expand to global markets, facilitating trade and leveraging their global network and presence to support local businesses as they expand beyond borders and promote Dubai as a global business hub. I have personally been supported by Dubai Chambers in China, where they have opened a lot of opportunities for us. Similarly, if it wasn’t for the Dubai Chambers International Office in Azerbaijan, we wouldn’t be exposed to the opportunities that Baku has to offer. They open a lot of channels and their mission is to go further with almost 50 offices around the world, which connect small businesses, in particular, to opportunities out there. We are very grateful to them.
Q. What are your first impressions of Baku?
A. It is a very beautiful city. My first impression is that it is probably the cleanest city I have ever seen and I have traveled the world. And that obviously comes from your high level of education and high level of awareness. Another thing is that the architecture is beautiful over here. I have seen modern architecture mixed with historical. That culture of mixing this together shows a diversification in the way of living and modern development into real estate. It is very similar to Dubai, where in the past 20 years the development of real estate has seen a lot of fast growth. And I see the same thing here. I see the tremendous transformation from what we’ve used to hear about Azerbaijan until now.
Q. What are your observations about the state of real estate development in Baku?
A. I see tremendous transformation in the real estate sector, in the developing sector; I’ve seen a lot of hotels bring brands all over the streets that show that tourism is highly positioned over here. I know that a lot of my friends and colleagues are always traveling to Azerbaijan for tourism and that always come from an initial look into real estate. And the mix of culture and heritage and modern elements in your real estate creates the need to come and visit all the time.
Q. What would be your advice to Azerbaijani business people considering doing business in Dubai?
A. I would say attend my presentation, for starters. The infrastructure in Dubai has helped a lot of investors to live there by creating security, stability, and social networking stability like schools and hospitals. Their vision has been executed very properly. When you are looking for a country that you want to invest in, you look at a few factors, like the unemployment rate if it’s too low or neglected, at the level of happiness of the residents – we even have the Ministry of Happiness in the UAE. When you look at all of these criteria and see that they top the chart, then it’s a market that you want to enter. When a country has created an incredible platform for diversification, you create growth in other sectors. It is a growing economy and with that, investors can see growth in their investments and safety. There is no devaluation in currency and has never been even through three cycles of a downturn. You need to be partnering with the right partner who will take care of your investment, consult with you the right way and manage your assets over the future. This is why we are here, to extend these opportunities and support as much as we can.
Sabina Mammadli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @SabinaMmdl
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