Saudi Arabia’s biggest developer goes for tall in Dubai
Dar Al Arkan launches 34-storey tower on Canal’s edge and with an Italian connection

Saudi Arabia’s biggest developer has launched a Dh800 million tower project in Dubai … for Saudi buyers. And it’s even got an Italian connection.

Dar Al Arkan, which has a market capitalisation of 10.8 billion Saudi riyals, is building the tower right on the edge of the Water Canal in Business Bay (and opposite the W hotel off Shaikh Zayed Road). The 34-storey project bears quite an outside-of-the-box name — “I Love Florence” — and the connection comes having the Roberto Cavalli brand do up all of the interiors.

The plot was bought just two months ago and represents Dar Al Arkan’s first project outside of Saudi Arabia. More projects could be taken up in Dubai and elsewhere in the region, according to a senior official.

All these elements should be enough to get Saudi buyers lining up. “We chose the location because Saudis love to live on the water,” said Ziad El Char, CEO. “We chose room formats that are quite sizeable and with big balconies — not the tiny ones you see here.

“And the elevators will open directly onto the owner’s apartments — and with the Roberto Cavalli interiors, Saudi buyers will have enough reasons to buy.”

The apartments carry an average price of Dh2 million and the project should be ready by June of 2021.

El Char, who was earlier working in Dubai, said it was last year that Dar Al Arkan decided to make headway into a market outside of Saudi Arabia. To this end, a development office to handle all of the international operations was set up in Dubai and followed by the buying of the Business Bay plot.

But with the Saudi crackdown on corruption and with so much happening in the kingdom, was this a good time to be launching new projects?

“No matter whatever is happening, the best place to save is property,” said El Char. “Dar Al Arkan has been at it for over 23 years and we have built up a base of 38,000 customers. What we are doing now is just presenting to them a new product outside of the kingdom.”

This year, the developer has four projects at an advanced stage of development in Saudi Arabia, three in Riyadh and one in Madina. “The way it works there is to have the projects either complete or nearing completion to start selling. Because a lot of deals happen on mortgages, it is a necessity to do it this way.

“Banks typically take 60 days to process the approval paperwork. The sales process is quite different to Dubai’s.” (All through this year, Dubai’s developers have been in a rush to launch and sell. The deals and payment plans have been getting sweeter as far as buyers are concerned. Anything to lock in a sale is the developer’s mindset.) Dar Al Arkan’s asset base, especially as land bank, is valued at 25 billion riyals. Apart from the stray exposure in a mall or commercial property, the predominant share is vested in residential. Outside of the Saudi government, it holds the biggest land bank in Makkah and Madinah.

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