CW Expert Interview | Amira Sajwani on DAMAC's projects and pipeline
In this latest episode of Construction Week's Expert Interview series, the senior vice president – Operations at DAMAC Properties, Amira Sajwani, talks to CW's deputy editor, Anup Oommen, about DAMAC’s ongoing projects, its plans for 2021, and the changing trends in the construction industry.
DAMAC has been constructing through COVID-19 and developing projects across Dubai -- from Business Bay all the way to the Dubailand area -- including at its master-planned projects such as the 42 million square foot DAMAC Hills community, as well as at its separate projects such as Aykon Heights on Sheikh Zayed Road and the 26-storey Zada project in Business Bay.
"We have two major master-developments," Amira Sajwani says. "Firstly, we have the DAMAC Hills community, which is mostly constructed and built, where we have ongoing projects such as Bellavista and our new Green Acres villas that are now under construction."
DAMAC is also constructing the Veneto villas at the DAMAC Hills master-development, as well as The Trump Estates villas, and the Radisson, Kiara, and Golf Vita high-rise buildings.
Amira Sajwani adds: "Secondly, in the 55-million-square-feet AKOYA Oxygen master-development, which is our largest master-development, we have delivered most of the clusters, until now. We have a lot more deliveries happening in 2021. We should be able to deliver up to 8,000 units by mid-2021 in the AKOYA masterplan."
DAMAC has also recently opened the 2,294.7 square metre man-made Malibu Bay beach pool, which is the only one of its kind in a residential community in the UAE, and the largest of its kind in the GCC region.
Based on a California-vintage staycation theme, the 6,689.1 square metre Malibu Bay is equipped with amenities including food and beverage options, food trucks, as well as table tennis and a splash park for kids.
The Aykon project by DAMAC Properties has logged more than 13 million safe manhours without any lost-time incident. At the project, DAMAC reduced its on-site workers from 7,500 workers to 3,500 workers during COVID-19 to prioritise the health and safety of personnel.
DAMAC has worked with several contractors to diversify its portfolio of contractors and deliver on time during 2020.
"We have worked with several stakeholders such as Ghantoot. We have also appointed Trans Emirates Contracting for our Zada project in Business Bay. Our Aykon City project is also constructing well and ahead of time. In Akoya Oxygen, we were very closely working with Arabtec, and several other contractors."
Commenting on the changing trends in the real estate and construction sectors, Amira Sajwani adds: "The trend that will affect the global industry the most is the work-from-home trend. A lot of companies have moved to work-from-home, and have stayed with it, through the pandemic and are even considering it for post-COVID-19 times. Office expenses are being deemed unnecessary for departments that have been able to sufficiently, and efficiently, work from home. So, I think the office commercial space supply and demand will definitely change.
"In addition to this, when we look at residential trends, a lot of people have moved from wanting to live in apartments to wanting to live in villas. Apartments have a lot of shared spaces, such as elevators, that people are avoiding because of the pandemic. Also, due to the work-from-home culture and several lockdowns, families are looking for more space in their homes."