Atif Rahman, director and partner of Danube Properties, said that there is a temporary correction in the market, but its long-term prospects are bright due to a strong regulatory system.

"I have always believed that Dubai's real estate market is more strongly placed than most of the developed real estate industries if compared worldwide," Atif Rahman told Khaleej Times.

Elaborating, he said that the underlying risk for consumers arising in any industry is cash flow and how the funds are managed.

"Due to the Escrow system, which is an elementary requirement of any freehold project in Dubai, the consumer is at far lesser risk as the funds are locked in Escrow account and released only for construction. This is not the case in most of the other countries. This ensures that any investment made in real estate shall remain intact and the development of the project is largely assured.

"We tend to forget that the only industry where the investment is made in appreciating asset is real estate. Yes, there can be temporary correction that might take place, but in the long run you will make money. I always advice people to refrain from investing in real estate if they do not have an outlook of 7-10 years. Until such time that your asset is built and delivered, your risks are under control," he said.

Danube 2020 targets

Atif Rahman said that Danube started 2020 on a positive note with the completion of Resortz Residence and is expected to complete three more projects this year.

He said that the combined value of Glamz, Miraclz and Bayz, that are next in line for delivery, is Dh1.12 billion spread across 1,488 units.

"Including Resortz, it takes our tally of planned delivery this year to almost 2,000 units," he said.

Realty to survive Covid-19

Atif Rahman appreciated the UAE leadership for taking phenomenal steps to contain the coronavirus outbreak and said that the government has been extremely swift in responding to any crisis whether it is social, political, economic or pandemic as such. "We all know the speed at which the government works towards improvement, it's phenomenal. They have been consistently committed in making the country one of the top destinations for tour-ism, business, education, healthcare and every sector. For me the flavors of UAE are truly global and we are never satisfied enough on the improvement index, it's always getting better," he said. He said the group has adopted precautionary measures to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on its business and human resources. "Well, we have already encountered the crisis and hopefully this is not the end of the world. As a leader, I think my job is clearly cut out; I need to keep my focus on two most important things: how to limit any form of damage and how to keep moving forward. While doing this, we have to be extra careful at all times as the virus threatens human life which can never be recreated. "We need to be in total control of the cash flow at this point of time and focus on project delivery. We are blessed that we started the year on a great note with one project delivery and we had a remarkable success with the launch of our next gated community Olivz Residence just before the crisis," he said.

Expo 2020 delay

To a question about the proposed delay in Expo 2020 and its impact on the industry, Atif Rahman said the government has already started discussing the possibility with the stakeholders. So, it will most likely be pushed forward.

"I believe once we are out of the current crisis, Expo on its revised date will attract a huge amount of attention from the business world because it will be the single such large-scale event required for boosting the global confidence, where UAE will play a major role in.

"I have visited the Expo site personally a few months back and I was amazed to see the amount of development already happened. I have always believed that Expo in Dubai will be the finest Expo ever seen until date. The scale and the preparation are unimaginable and when it opens the doors on the revised date, the world will witness the true caliber of UAE," he said.

Focus on projects completion

Atif Rahman said the group has a decent number of projects in the pipeline, but that its primary focus is on existing developments delivery and construction. "I believe the strength of any developer lies in the ongoing projects and how efficiently we can deliver. We will always remain committed and focused on our ongoing projects, this is our real report card. "At the same time, we exert a lot of effort on understanding consumer needs and innovating new ideas on the drawing board. We have a decent pipeline but one of our core values is to advance one project at a time. We will only think of launching the next one once we have sold out the current project and commenced the construction," he added.

He said the group has launched projects at some of the toughest times throughout its lifecycle and recorded sales success.

"The current situation is an exception and we need to act responsibly. The situation will improve in the next two quarters, it's important we remain strong until then to be able to take advantage in business," he said.

"I firmly believe the situation with Covid-19 shall improve rapidly in UAE however the global impact will last for at least a quarter before things roll back to normal. We will assess the situation then and decide about launching any new project," he said.