Building Dreams Creating Impact

Atif Rahman, Founder and Chairman, ORO24

From humble beginnings to cutting-edge innovation, Atif Rahman, Founder and Chairman, ORO24 shares his journey to success, with a focus on quality, community, and sustainability

How has ORO24 changed since you first launched the company, in your opinion?

I started ORO24 with one table and a few plastic chairs from my startup office with a vision to create a next-age real estate corporation. At the beginning of the journey, the office had one TV screen, one router and a printer. The business has now transformed into a state-of-the-art 25,000 sq ft headquarters with a fully matured hi-tech infrastructure including artificial intelligence, ERP, and cyber security at our data centre. However, nothing is surprising about it and the company is growing exactly as it was planned. Without any doubt, the journey was more blessed than I had imagined. I am extremely grateful for the support I have received from people around me and especially those who stood by me when I had to restart from zero. Today the company has a disclosed portfolio of over 2,200 units excluding some unique and exciting plans that we have on the drawing board.

So now that the company is achieving tangible success, What is your goal?

I am a dreamer and I love to dream big. My ultimate goal is to create the most amazing workplace which delivers the innovative product, and efficient service and remains people-sensitive at all times. I am of the firm belief that every business creates immense social impact and through my business, I want to serve society to the best of my ability. Since the core of our business is real estate development, we understand the responsibility we carry as a builder to deliver incredible assets that will create enhanced consumer and community experiences. Dubai is a beautiful landscape and I want our projects to enhance this beautiful city.

Why did you choose forward integration of the business over backward integration?

Once the property is delivered, one of the biggest challenges for the consumer is maintaining it. Since we put our heart and soul into designing and delivering our properties, we also know the best way to maintain them. This is the thought with which we want to continue delivering service to our customers. We are sensitive about the property maintenance from the drawing board hence we try to incorporate the best option of design and material selection. I believe in real estate the biggest limitation one can have is through backward integration. The properties would be extremely limited in material and quality, which will ultimately impact the customer adversely. I prefer to have options of dealing with a wide variety of suppliers and contractors to deliver the best to my consumer. Additionally, since our volumes are high, it empowers us to negotiate the best prices with increased competition and a wide variety.

What is the secret behind the huge sale success of all your projects?

The first and most powerful reason is that the properties we are developing are in Dubai. Dubai delivers top-notch infrastructure, both hard and soft, which is difficult to compete with and that's what makes the city so attractive to the global audience. I wouldn't be wrong in saying that today Dubai is the most desirable place to live in the whole world. The second reason is we create good real estate. We combine lifestyle and community in every real estate project we take up. We maintain a bespoke approach for every piece of land that goes on the drawing board. The idea is to deliver the best value for money to our customers through a profitable asset class.

10 million contributions to Mohammed bin Rashid global initiative followed by Mosque in Arjan and now you have one unit in endowment with Awqaf. What is it about?

I have always been an ardent admirer and follower of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and one of the greatest leaders of our times who has changed the way people look at the region today. Through his extremely innovative leadership and vision driven by the conviction of building the city of the future, His Highness has changed the desert into the most attractive city on this planet. I always try to align with his vision, which is not only about development, economy and city planning, but it's mainly about the welfare and well-being of people. It's my humble effort to be associated with the 1 Billion Meal Endowment, supported by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiative (MBRGI) which is committed to bringing global change in the fight against poverty and hunger. On the other hand, the AWQAF initiative was in discussion with the top leadership of RERA and Dubai Land Department, followed by AWQAF under the vision of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.

I am extremely thankful to them for this opportunity. ORO24 is the first real estate developer to participate in Real Estate Endowment Scheme with AWQAF for serving society. We pledge one unit towards AWQAF from every project we launch, supporting four initiatives Education, Widows, Orphans and Prisoners. For me, the most satisfying part of the business is not only business but also the volume of social change that you can bring through this platform. I have successfully designed and built over 5,000 units alone in Arjan under three different ventures, by far the most by anyone in this community. I was blessed to get the opportunity of building a Mosque in Arjan, which has been extremely lucky for me.

What is your take on sustainability?

Sustainability requires the utmost attention immediately and today, especially with awareness at the grass root level. There are a lot of initiatives being taken at the diplomatic level between global agencies and governments. The UAE is leading the way with some great initiatives like Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park, mandatory green building certification for all projects, along with COP28 taking place in the UAE this year, which promises to be the best. However, the common man requires deeper awareness about this, which we can start by implementing education towards sustainability at schools, universities and businesses. We do our bit through smaller initiatives like cutting down on plastic usage by eradicating the use of plastic cups at our Headquarters to a larger contribution of designing eco-friendly projects. So far to support our rapid growth, we have undertaken 14 renovations of our headquarters, all with reduction and re-use of the materials. But I truly believe we have more to do as a business and we will continue to evolve and improve.

What is your opinion about the current market?

Let me quote an example, imagine a grocery store that your family has been visiting for generations and the shop was happy serving the regular customer without feeling the need to change or evolve. With time the store continued to remain unchanged with extremely limited options of products and fading interiors. And suddenly a brand-new organised supermarket opened next door offering a great variety of options, more cost-effective rates and a brand-new ambience. Slowly the old store is certain to start losing customers to the new store which offers better value for the consumer. I believe most of the governments, world over has become lazy towards their people and are happy with the limited development of public welfare and the economy. While the UAE is offering a fresh new approach towards governance and development. This is surely attracting new immigrants consistently like the newly organised supermarket. This will continue to run the economy towards strong growth.

How do you define success?

Being successful often demands sacrifices, and one ought to be ready for it. Apart from skill, hard work, and vision; self-motivation is the key to success. One should be strongly self-motivated to bounce back from any failure which is bound to happen several times in every journey before success. The world is changing rapidly, and any talent runs the risk of becoming ordinary or obsolete with time. The real talent one needs to possess is the ability to learn. This is one virtue a person must have to be successful and continuous knowledge gathering leads you to the top of success. Health and time are extremely important, and a successful person will understand the importance of both very early. My biggest reason is the smile on people's faces, inside and outside the organisation. When I see that my business is enabling and changing people's lives for the better, that is my motivation. Every day while driving back from work I realise how little I know and how much more I must learn. This keeps me hungry for learning new things and keeps me humble. I am still improving my time management skills as generally I have many things to deal with at the same time and I am a perfectionist. As far as health is concerned, I like to remain active and eat selectively.