In an exclusive interview with Azernews Sabina Mammadli, Partner and Managing Director of BlackOak Real Estate, As a leading international real estate company in Dubai, Riad Gohar spoke about the development of the real estate industry in Dubai as well as in Baku, advising Azerbaijanis looking for business and bilateral cooperation in the UAE.
The discussion took place during the “Invest in Dubai” business luncheon organized by Chambers International Office in Dubai, Azerbaijan and the UAE Embassy in Baku.
Q: Welcome to Baku. Please introduce yourself and the entity you represent to our readers.
A. Thank you very 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 living in the United Arab Emirates. I lived there for almost 20 years. My industry is mainly real estate and construction. We are here with the support of the International Office of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce in Azerbaijan to learn more about the economy and culture of the country while looking for mutual opportunities where we can build connections and bridge gaps.
Q: Could you brief us on the nature and purpose of this visit?
A. Again, we are here to learn more about Azerbaijan’s economy, financial needs and macroeconomic outlook, to provide real estate opportunities, and to showcase Dubai’s cultural and financial instruments. Another goal is to understand how we connect two countries and peoples.
Q: Please share your expectations for the Invest in Dubai business luncheon.
A: I have worked for the Dubai Chamber of Commerce in China, and I know they are very down-to-earth when they run events and are very serious about business. So we are 100% sure that together we will have an incredible future and continued business.
Q: Dubai has successfully diversified away from oil revenues towards trade, logistics, tourism, real estate and financial services. How do international investors benefit from this diversification?
A: Well, the UAE and Abu Dhabi in particular have been oil producers and exporters. Over the past 20 years, however, the UAE has been working on this diversification, especially in aviation, tourism and services. So they had to create an incredibly secure and regulated platform that catered to all this diversity. They connect the entire world to Dubai by air. It has become an international center for business and leisure travel. So it generates a lot of financial revenue, so when investors actually come to Dubai, they see their revenue grow both year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter. A lot of companies come here, start with a small office, and after a few years, their companies go public and so on. This is definitely a great vision that has been realized and executed correctly.
Q: You are visiting Baku in cooperation with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. How does Dubai International Chamber of Commerce support your company’s international business development?
A: This is a great initiative of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. They enable local businesses to expand into global markets, facilitate trade and leverage their global network and presence to support local businesses beyond borders and promote Dubai as a global business hub. I am personally supported by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce in China and they have provided us with many opportunities. Likewise, we would not have been exposed to the opportunities that Baku has to offer if it were not for the International Office of Chambers Dubai in Azerbaijan. They’ve opened up a lot of channels and their mission is to go the extra mile through nearly 50 offices around the world that especially connect small businesses with the opportunities there. We are very grateful to them.
Q: What was your first impression of Baku?
A. This is a very beautiful city. My first impression was that it was probably the cleanest city I’ve ever seen, and one I’ve traveled around the world. This obviously comes from your high education and high level of consciousness. Another thing is that the architecture here is beautiful. I’ve seen modern architecture mixed with historic buildings. This mixed culture shows the diversification of lifestyle and the development of modern real estate. It is very similar to Dubai, which has experienced a lot of rapid growth in real estate development over the past 20 years. I see the same thing here. I see a huge shift from what we used to hear about Azerbaijan to now.
Q: What is your opinion on the state of real estate development in Baku?
A: I see huge changes in the real estate industry and developing industries; I see a lot of hotels taking their brands to the streets, which shows that tourism is very important here. I know that many of my friends and colleagues always travel to Azerbaijan and it always comes from the initial knowledge of real estate. The fusion of cultural, traditional and modern elements in your real estate creates the need to come and visit whenever you want.
Q: What advice do you have for Azerbaijani businessmen considering doing business in Dubai?
A: First, I would say attend my presentation. Dubai’s infrastructure helps many investors live there by creating safety, stability and social network stability like schools and hospitals. Their vision has been well executed. When you’re looking for a country you want to invest in, you look at several factors, such as the unemployment rate, if it’s too low or neglected, and the happiness level of the residents – we even have a Ministry of Happiness in the UAE. When you look at all these criteria and see that they are at the top of the list, that’s the market you want to be in. When a country creates an incredible platform for diversity, you create growth in other sectors. This is a growing economy and as such, investors can see their investments growing and safe. The currency has not devalued, and has never even gone through three recession cycles. You need to work with the right partner who will take care of your investments, advise you in the right way and manage your future assets. That’s why we’re here, to expand those opportunities and support as much as possible.
Sabina Mammadli is a staff reporter for AzerNews, follow her on Twitter: @SabinaMmdl
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