Rahail Aslam, Group CEO at Select Group. talks to Kasun Illankoon about their recently launched 15 Northside Project in Business Bay, their commitment to deliver on their promise, and how the developer is looking to stand out from the rest of the competition

Goals and objectives in 2021

“The biggest goal for us in the year ahead is getting back on track after what was obviously quite a difficult year worldwide due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The decisions we have made as a company over the past 20 years allowed us to brace such storms in the past year, and as we head forward into 2021, we remain committed to our fundamentals. These are centered around Dubai’s ambitious plans to be a leading place to live and work, hence our drive to be consistent, reliable, and to continue delivering uncompromising quality. We are always looking to improve in all aspects of what we do, making our operations and output across all levels of the business more efficient and effective, and 2021 will be no different in this regard.

In terms of our key goals, they are always focused on continuous improvement in all aspects of the business, resulting in excellent value for our customers, with projects delivered on time and as promised. One of the key learnings from 2020 for me was the increased value people put into customer service and feeling they are valued as a customer, rather than just being another number in a queue. So, by making sure all our customers are always treated with the care and respect we have become known for, is even more important, and will stand us in great stead as we continue to forge these relationships with both new and existing clients.”

Apartment sizes in the development range from 370 square feet to 3,142 square feet. Anticipated completion date for the development is 2022

Delivering the Jumeirah Living Marina Gate Project

“We have just recently completed our three-tower project at Marina Gate, with the successful handover of Jumeriah Living Marina Gate in July 2020. Marina Gate 1 was completed 2018, while Marina Gate 2 was handed over in 2019, so navigating through such a tumultuous start to 2020 and delivering JLMG, a project which has won many awards and accolades, on time was an achievement we are very proud of.

One of our big aims with the Marina Gate development was to create a real feeling of community within the Marina itself. Obviously, everyone knows about the Marina area, and it is a great attraction for people, but we felt that it didn’t have a real anchoring community hub. We believe the Marina Gate development is just that. It is over 4 million square foot of built-up area, it is a mixed-use development which offers a wide array of amenities and facilities, right on the doorstep of the residents. There are over 1,500 apartments within those three developments, and with the presence of a vibrant collection of mixed retail outlets, this has established Marina Gate as one of the premier addresses to live in within Dubai.

In addition, partnering with Jumeirah Group was a bold decision and has really been a huge success for the stakeholders. As an entity known worldwide as being a symbol of luxury and excellence in hospitality, and combining that with our standards of delivering premium, high quality residences is a real endorsement for the product we completed. The JLMG project which was the final building of the trio, is divided between branded residences and serviced hotel apartments, all of which are the summation of luxury living directly on the waterfront, in one of the most sought-after residential hubs in Dubai.

In terms of what is in the pipeline, we have just announced the launch of our 15th project, 15 Northside in Business Bay. We are already at an advanced stage with this development, the building is over 50% completed, the contractors are on site, and we are aiming for delivery in Q3, 2022. We are very excited by the prospect of this project, and what is bringing to the marketplace.”

Northside Project & Features

“Having developed such a reputation within the Marina for providing quality, high value waterfront residences over the past two decades, we considered our next move very carefully before deciding to make a foray into the Business Bay district. We feel we have spotted a real gap in the market regarding the demand for affordable luxury, in a waterfront setting, which is an angle that no other developer seemed to be exploring when we decided to make this our next project.

I think one of the real unique elements of 15 Northside is the location and the value associated with the price point. Residences in prime waterfront locations, at an affordable price point like Northside offers are certainly unique in that sense. A perfect comparison is The Dorchester, which is immediately adjacent to our building, and has a starting price point of AED 15,000,000 going up as high as AED 40,000,000. Whereas we have an entry price point of AED 580,000.

We have focussed on prioritizing efficiency within this development, while still making sure that we don’t have compromised units. This allows us to go to market with a very manageable price

point. The building is situated directly on the Dubai Canal Promenade, is right on the doorstep of Downtown Dubai, with Dubai Mall, The Opera House, Burj Khalifa, Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, DIFC and Dubai Design District all within the immediate vicinity. We feel it really presents a unique opportunity for the first-time buyer, or seasoned investors alike to get a foothold in an area which has massive potential.

First and foremost, the thing that will stand out most about this development will be the spectacular views over the waterways of Dubai Canal, but also of Dubai Creek. The ability to be able to have a building that has such an array of views from any angle is a feature we are really proud of with this project.

We have built in a massive common area on the pool deck, which is situated on the third floor of the building, which directly overlooks the Burj Khalifa. The Downtown skyline is considered one of the most iconic in the world and you will be able to take it all in in breathtaking fashion from the deck floor of 15 Northside. Being able to sit in the infinity pool, or lounge on a deck chair while taking in sights like this isn’t something everyone will be lucky enough to experience, not to mention the fact you will have a front row seat for the Burj Khalifa’s spectacular New Year’s Eve firework show. Additionally, there will be spacious outdoor fitness terrace and a social and games terrace which is a perfect place for entertaining on this deck level.

There will also be a beautifully landscaped relaxation deck on the roof of the 9th floor, which will also overlook Burj Khalifa and Dubai Frame, and will offer people a tranquil and private area to relax in at any time of the day. And of course, we’ll have a dual level gym, which will contain the latest, state of the art fitness and strength equipment.

There are 349 units in this development, predominantly studios and 1 bed, but with a select number of two and three bedroom units. We know we’re looking at a younger, exuberant and energetic demographic for this project and that’s why we’ve put a lot of effort into making sure the amenities and facilities in the building really cater for those individuals.”

15 Northside is the fifteenth development by leading real estate developer Select Group. Spread over 21 floors, the development offers 349 apartments, featuring studio, one, two, three and a select number of four bedroom apartments. Panoramic waterfront vistas, efficiently designed layouts, premium finishes, full floor windows allowing bright morning light and ample storage solutions are the hallmarks of these modern homes

Differentiating themselves from the competition

“One of the key aspects of Select Group compared to other developers is we are committed to delivering on our word and giving our customers exactly what they want in a timely manner. We are very careful to make sure we don’t speculate. We buy land, we make sure we are capitalized to start and finish with our developments. We don’t over stretch ourselves or bring unnecessary pressure on ourselves in this regard to safeguard on our promise.

We are always striving to improve from one project to the next, making sure that we have elements within our developments that really set us apart. Looking back over some of our previous developments, we built Torch Tower and that was the world’s tallest residential building of its time, in Botanica we had the idea of the Tropical Sky Garden which presented something different and unheard of at the time.

Furthermore, we make sure we always work with partners who are best in class whether it is from the design aspect to the build, or anything in between. Ultimately, we are always geared towards the end goal of providing a product to be proud of for our clients, and for it to be on time and as per specifications. Once we showcase a project from the concept stage, our job is to ensure that is what it looks like at handover. I think it gives customers a real sense of trust when they look at something that comes from Select Group.”

Real Estate Market Overview

“2020 was a very tough year across the board for sure, not just for real estate, but for every sector and industry. As a city I think Dubai has remained resilient, in terms of how it has managed to deal with CoVid-19. They have done it carefully and cautiously without completely shutting down the economy, and as a result I think the signs are positive that it will lead to an accelerated bounce back. Particularly when you compare it to other countries and cities around the world which are still in a state of flux.

From a property market perspective, I think one of the key aspects that really emerged from 2020 was the shift to a more dynamic, flexible working routine for large swathes of people, with remote working becoming a big part of everyone’s routines now. Given how the government here have adjusted regulations, with new citizenship laws and remote working visas, I expect we will see an increased interest with people looking to relocate here, particularly during the winter months. As a result, we do expect there to be more interest from foreign buyers as we move into 2021.

From our perspective, we have had a good start to the year, and we have seen a spike in the market over the first couple of months of 2021 and of course we hope that continues. However, I think at the moment we can’t make any long-term assumptions about how quickly it will take the market to return to a state of normality, but the signs are there that there is positivity afoot and we hope that continues.”

COVID-19 Impact and Leading the Group out of the pandemic

“Like most businesses, we had a difficult spell also. We can’t say that we came out of the year completely unscathed, but we came through it with a redefined focus and a commitment to bouncing back quicker and stronger than anyone of our competitors. Thankfully, we didn’t have

to make any redundancies throughout the period, which I think filters down through the company to all the team members. I mentioned how having the trust of our customers earlier was vital, but in the same vein, having the trust of our team is equally, if not more important. Not having doubts over their futures or job security allowed us to move forward together as a company and continue to operate with as much normalcy as possible all things considered.

There is no question there was a slow down for us, but from a project standpoint we didn’t have to stop or pause anything, and we managed to complete and handover Jumeirah Living Marina Gate successfully, while also keeping all our other projects on track.

To be honest during the lockdown/s we had time to reflect on certain parts of the group that needed some improvements, which typically when we are busy that focus would have not been there. Thankfully we have been able to really hone in on certain technological advancements as well as being able to utilize the time to really train our teams across the board to make our delivery processes much more streamlined and efficient.

Overall, the downtime also allowed us to restructure our sales team and sales function, and as a result we have been recruiting heavily over the past 6 months, which has really bolstered our internal capabilities. With this combination we believe we are now set up to really move ahead stronger than before.”

“The biggest thing for me is making sure the right people are in the right positions they fulfill. I don’t want to find myself in a situation where I would micromanage or be involved in every step of the cycle, because if I’m doing that it’s a fundamental weakness and creates a bottleneck.

Every department within Select Group has the autonomy to operate within a set framework with a clear delegation of authority set out for management allowing for efficient processes. I have mentioned it before, but I’m going to go back to the issue of trust, as it’s such an important aspect of all levels of this business. Everyone who works here knows they have my complete trust to deliver what is needed in order to meet our yearly targets.

I want every team member here to know they have the remit to present what they think is the best way forward. By giving people that level of ownership within their field it inspires them to really put their all into it.

I am strong supporter of innovation and not resting on one’s laurels. What was good enough last week, last year, won’t be the same as what’s good enough now. By encouraging everyone within Select Group to continually push boundaries and strive to deliver the best in their given field, the more chance we have of continued growth and success as a collective. That’s what ultimately will make sure we all achieve our goals together.”