George Khouzami, COO, Al Thuriah Group: Interview

George Khouzami, COO, Al Thuriah Group

Interview: George Khouzami

Which factors are driving demand for residential real estate in Sharjah, and how has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted these trends?

GEORGE KHOUZAMI: Sharjah has recently emerged as one of the most in-demand emirates for real estate due to its vibrant environment, prime location and affordability. Middle-income individuals benefit from spacious homes, a lower cost of living, and reasonable and high-quality education options. The larger residential properties proved desirable during the pandemic, as people working from home were able to effectively separate recreational areas from work areas to help maximise productivity, and enjoy lots of natural sunlight while indoors.

Positive market conditions prior to the pandemic had allowed many families to make the leap from tenants to first-time homeowners. Additionally, residential investors enjoy higher rates of return compared to neighbouring emirates due to high occupancy rates and lower service charges, further boosting the attractiveness of the Sharjah property market.

How much awareness is there about the value proposition of facilities management within the Sharjah property market?

KHOUZAMI: To remain competitive, real estate developers must continuously look for new ways to raise service quality and adopt new technologies that enhance the way we deliver solutions to clients. Aside from financial stability, we must also be particular on health, safety and environmental standards, therefore ensuring our staff is fully compliant with internal and external regulations. During the pandemic the primary role of facilities management co has been to create a safe environment through frequent sanitisation, which helps reduce the risk of transmission. To expand this further, facilities management is a key differentiating factor to strengthen the economic and physical sustainability of projects.

Environmentally friendly practices are also a major responsibility of any service company. Our facilities management department has acquired an ISO certification that demonstrates our improving environmental performance. Employees are involved in finding solutions beneficial to the organisation, its clients and the environment.

To what extent is the industry harnessing technology to strengthen operational efficiency?

KHOUZAMI: Technology has long played a significant role in our everyday lives, and this has become more apparent than ever during the pandemic. Its development in recent years has had wide-ranging effects on all industries today, including construction and real estate. Its effects on the business environment have resulted in faster communication and more efficient production, which has led to a positive long-term economic outlook.

Our recently implemented enterprise resource planning software has allowed us to link our activities under a detailed work breakdown structure with the contracts and procurement departments. Through business intelligence and analytics, we have adopted a just-in-time model for our inventory, optimised our bulk purchasing across projects and companies, and increased efficiency and utilisation of all fixed assets, among other improvements. Our ability to track activities in real time has optimised our manpower planning, resources, inventory levels, fixed assets and cash flow. Additionally, this has provided each of our employees – including those at remote offices – with easy access to our database, which contains workflow information, details about tenants, payments and deliveries. These are a few examples of how new technologies are facilitating innovations that can contribute to our competitiveness, prepare our company for any unexpected challenges and enable it to stay on top of new trends in the industry.

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The Report: Sharjah 2021

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