UAE real estate: Six key people

30 May 2008

The top six figures in the UAE real estate sector: Mohamed al-Gergawi, Mohammed Ali al-Abbar, Farhan Faraidooni, Chris O’Donnell, Peter Riddoch and Wazir Daredia.

Mohamed al-Gergawi

Position: CEO, Dubai Holding

Biography: Mohamed al-Gergawi was designated chief executive officer (CEO) of Dubai Holding in 2004, a role evolving from his previous position as chairman of the board of the Dubai Development & Investment Authority (DDIA). This position was expanded and given greater focus through the creation of Dubai Holding, which inherited the former DDIA-promoted projects, initiatives and companies. Al-Gergawi is also secretary general of Dubai Executive Council and head of the ‘Young Arab Leaders’ community, launched at the World Economic Forum in 2004. He is active in charitable and community work as the founder of the Dubai Autism Centre and the UAE Disabled Sports Federation. In 2004, Al-Gergawi was presented with the Moroccan Royal Order of Merit by King Mohammad VI of Morocco and the American Business Award by the American Business Council. He has a degree from the US.

Contact Tel: (+9714) 318 929

Mohammed Ali al-Abbar

Position: Chairman, Emaar Properties

Biography: As chairman of Emaar Properties, Mohammed Ali al-Abbar has played a key role in the development of Dubai’s real estate sector. Emaar, a public joint stock company established in 1997, is listed on the Dubai Financial Market and is majority owned by the government of Dubai. Emaar Properties is the largest construction and development company in the UAE and has built more than 1,000 residential units and office complexes during the real estate boom in Dubai. Emaar is also responsible for the development of Burj Dubai, which is expected to be the tallest tower in the world on completion. Al-Abbar was previously vice-chairman of Dubai Aluminium Company from 1992 to 2003, and was vice-chairman of the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) over the same period. He gained his undergraduate degree in finance and business administration from Seattle University in 1981.

Contact Tel: (+9714) 367 3333

Farhan Faraidooni

Position: CEO, Sama Dubai

Biography: Farhan Faraidooni was recently appointed to the role of executive chairman of Sama Dubai following his successful track record as its CEO since 2005. Under his guidance, Sama Dubai has successfully launched mega-projects in the GCC, Middle East and North Africa (Mena) regions, and established two global brands: Dubai Towers and Salam. Prior to this post, he was CEO of the Executive Design Bureau, an entity of the executive office, where projects such as Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai Healthcare City and Dubai International Financial Centre were initially conceptualised. Faraidooni has also served as head of town planning at Dubai Municipality. He is chairman of the board of Dubai Real Estate Institute and a board member of the Religious Endowment (Awqaf) and Minors Affairs Ministry. Educated at UAE University, Faraidooni has a bachelor’s degree in engineering and architecture.

Contact Tel: (+9714) 369 4852

Chris O’Donnell

Position: CEO, Nakheel

Biography: Chris O’Donnell joined Nakheel in June 2006 as CEO. His role directly oversees all company operations and developments, and he plays a key role in its strategic direction. He reports to Nakheel’s executive chairman, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem. O’Donnell has more than 30 years’ experience in the property industry, including construction, project management, development management, fund management and asset management. Before joining Nakheel, he spent five years as managing director of Investa Property Group in Australia where, under his leadership, the Australian Stock Exchange-listed company increased its funds under management from A$800m ($752m) to A$6.2bn, and became the country’s largest listed owner of commercial properties. He has also held other executive positions with prominent Australian organisations, including Lend Lease.

Contact Tel: (+9714) 390 3333

Peter Riddoch

Position: CEO, Damac Properties

Biography: Peter Riddoch is CEO of Damac Properties, the largest private sector developer in the UAE. Riddoch joined Damac in August 2003 as general manager. After training as a quantity surveyor at the Glasgow College of Building, he began his career in property development as a trainee with the UK’s George Wimpey. He now oversees one of the most successful residential, leisure and commercial developers in Dubai and the Middle East, and the company is expanding rapidly into North Africa, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar and the Far East. The company’s portfolio includes properties spread across 450 million square feet and worth more than $18bn. Damac Properties is a subsidiary of Damac Holdings, the multi-billion-dollar conglomerate headed up by Hussain Sajwani. The UK is a major new market for the developer and in total it has 10 offices, with its new headquarters opening up in Canary Wharf in London.

Contact Tel: (+9714) 332 2005

Wazir Daredia

Position: CEO, Trident

Biography: Wazir Daredia is CEO of Trident and runs a $1bn real estate portfolio, specialising in luxury brands. In 2006, he was given the Best CEO award by Dubai’s CEOs Club for his dynamic leadership. He is an advocate of luxurious, high-quality real estate developments and Trident was among the first firms to promote such schemes in the emirate. Daredia is well known in the global real estate market for his opinions on luxury living and is one of the pioneers of the ‘concept branded realty’ sector in the Middle East, meaning that he promotes schemes with a specific theme. He is also a familiar name within the Dubai and Swiss business communities, having previously had a long association with the world-famous Swiss clock and watchmaking sector, and has been managing director of Geneva-based Montres Appella, which manufactures the Appella brand of watches.

Contact Tel: (+9714) 299 7333

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