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now, but it won’t be later on. When the financial crisis hit a lot of people abandoned the city. They left their cars at the airport! But we’re back to traffic jams. So it’s a cycle, and people shouldn’t be surprised by crisis. How crucial are institutional investors? Our mechanism targets end-users in a way. When we first launched, we noticed many purchasers were doing so for investment but when the project was completed they moved in and started enjoying the community. We’re not necessarily targeting the super-high end. We’re targeting the average consumer market that’s interested in a comfortable, safe lifestyle. Are you in competition with Abu Dhabi, like Hong Kong and Singapore? If you concentrate on what others are doing, you’re going to forget about your own goals. The Dubai government and the UAE leadership are moving in a manner where they’re trying to plan a strategy for what we want to reach in 50 years. We had the 2020 plan, which included the Expo. We got it and now the question is what’s next? So we have a 2030 plan. Dubai doesn’t consider Abu Dhabi a rival. Abu Dhabi doesn’t consider Dubai a rival. It’s one country and there are other emirates too. Abu Dhabi is for the super-luxury — the Formula One, the big yachts. Dubai is the business hub, and the link between East and West. Sharjah concentrates on history, culture and education. The American University, Sharjah University, the higher colleges of technology are there. So each emirate complements the other. I don’t consider it competition. Has financing changed since 2008? Banks are cautious now. We have understandings with the banks to finance end-users. In the past, before the crisis, the financing mechanism was 99%. So people were happy to put their 1% down but after the crisis a lot of them disappeared. So the central bank created a 20/80 regulation and yes, it lessened demand, but now you get people who can actually afford properties, they want to buy a house, and they want to live in it. It’s more sustainable. How is your new project different from The Palm or The World? One fact is that we didn’t take any loans from banks. We could and finish in three years but that’s no how we like to move forward. We like to move slowly, steadily, calculate and take it one step at a time. Our family name is linked to this project, our legacy, and we’re not going to compromise on that. The Wonder of Falconcity Dubai rarely does anything in half-measures. It is, after all, home to the iconic Burj Al Arab and the towering Burj Khalifa (star of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol). The latest addition to its cityscape is the sprawling Falconcity of Wonders, spanning nearly 400 hectares in the heart of New Dubai. “The goal behind Falconcity of Wonders was to create a mixed-used development that would house 75,000 people by day and 55,000 by night, with approximately 5,500 residential units,” explains Falconcity’s Alharith Bin Salem Al Moosa. “It’s a project whose design is based on the emblem of the UAE: the falcon. It takes the spirit of the wonders of the world and recreates it with a real estate point of view. The Eiffel Tower will be an office building, the Taj Mahal is going to be a hotel. We use the slogan ‘The world in a city.’” The falcon head will be a shopping precinct, its wings will house the bulk of the villas, and the legs (the location of Rome, London and so on) are mixed shopping and residential quarters. The completed and transferred first phase comprised 366 villas, with 202 and 80 percent handovers in phase two. A clutch of villas reclaimed by the developer are currently available: 2,800-square foot, three-bedroom units and four- and five-bedroom properties ranging in size from 3,400 to 6,000 square feet and priced at AED3.6 to 6.6 million (HK$7.6 to $14 million). A further 680 units will launch this year with super high-end VIP villas located at the Hanging Gardens. The next phases are being built using sustainable practices — solar panels will re-contribute to the power grid — and aim for the highest LEED rating available. Among Falconcity’s facilities and amenities are a mosque, nursery, medical centre, hypermarket, clubhouse and theme park. The New York district contains, naturally, a large central park. But, “When it’s all completed we’re trying to include education centres about history, past civilisations and these fantastic moments,” says Al Moosa. “Yes, you can jump on the ’net and read about them, but when there’s an interactive museum it’s something else.” Falconcity is scheduled for completion in 2020. Photo : Falconcity of Wonders www.falconcity.com 31


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