Australian-based developer’s dare to be different results in a new standard of Dubai luxury
Despite only operating in the Dubai market since 2006, the Australian-based developer Sunland Group is causing a stir with the unprecedented sales success of its luxury residential developments, which is credited by the company’s ethos of ‘daring to be different’ when it comes to creating new standards of living extravagance.
The developer’s credentials include 74 per cent of its 27 storey, 191 one and two bedroom development Nur being sold at the scheme’s 10 June launch, worth a total of AED 788 million (£107 million/ AUD$220 million). More than 85 per cent of its Palazzo Versace Dubai development has been sold, worth a total worth of AED 1.98 billion (£277.2 million/ AU$575 million), despite only launching in April. Additionally, more than 85 per cent of its 80-storey D1 development has been sold, worth a total of AED 1.58 billion (£220.4 million /AUD$457million).
The value of Sunland’s development portfolio in Dubai now stands at AED15.56 billion (AUD$4.5billion/ £2.17billion), providing more than 2,800 residences. Sunland’s Dubai office employs over 100 staff and its Dubai operation also project manages White Bay, a master planned community at Umm Al Quwain which has established its own sales and marketing division, including a 700 sq.m showroom located just off Sheikh Zayed Road.
Sunland Group’s Managing Director and Founder Soheil Abedian comments: “Though Sunland only has a short history in the Dubai residential sector, the quality and standard of our developments remains in high demand. This demand, in my belief, is due to our company ethos of ‘daring to be different.’ We have dared to be different in the architecture of our developments, in the internal designs of homes and communal areas and by daring to provide services and facilities that are truly unique and raise the standard of what luxury homebuyers and investors want and now need.
“An excellent example of our dedication to design excellence and build quality is our insistence that before construction started on Palazzo Versace Dubai that we had an exact replica of a residence built to the finest detail for joint review and approval by Emirates Sunland Group and The House of Versace. This prototype was then “road tested” for product durability, and the feel and texture of finishes.”
To an Australian audience, the Sunland Group’s success is not surprising due to its strong reputation as a premium, luxury developer. The company was founded by Soheil in 1983 and has since grown into a Top 200 Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) company. Currently Sunland Group has a total portfolio of AUS $6.5 billion, with over 10,000 products in land, housing, and high-rise developments.
Worldwide, Sunland’s total staff now comprises in excess of 1,000 people throughout Australia and its overseas operations and it has an in-house architectural, design and project management services.
Sunland’s entry into the opulent development arena began in September 2000, when it became the first development company in the world to combine a hotel with a luxury fashion brand with its first Palazzo Versace Hotel and Residences on the Gold Coast, Australia. This concept was soon followed by other fashion houses and hospitality groups joining forces around the world.
The Sunland Group has an agreement with the House of Versace to create 15 Palazzo Versace resorts worldwide over the next 25 years in leading destinations and plan to announce the next two Palazzo Versace’s within six months. The Palazzo Versace global rollout will contribute to the growth of Sunland’s development and hotel ownership portfolio as well as the Group’s hotel management activities.
Prior to this, Sunland launched the world’s tallest residential tower, Q1 on the Gold Coast in 2005. Following in 2006, Sunland completed Yve, a luxury residential apartment complex in the Melbourne’s famous St Kilda Road. Upon its completion Sunland received the highest architectural honour from the Royal Institute of Architecture. It was the first time in 78 years that such an award had been bestowed by the Institute for a residential high-rise building. Yve was also the recipient of the Harold Desbrowe-Anneau Medal for Residential Development. Another milestone was the completion of the landmark Circle on Cavill scheme, a twin tower residential, commercial and retail precinct, in 2007, which has also won a series of design and development awards.
Soheil explains: “Many people ask me ‘why did the Sunland Group decide on Dubai for its global expansion?’ Of all the overseas markets Sunland could have chosen to expand into, the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) is probably one of the most exciting places to be working in design, development, construction and property right now. Average property values in Dubai have increased by 150 per cent in just five years and property development now forms 25 per cent of Dubai’s annual GDP.
“Crucially, only 10 per cent of what is envisaged for the Dubai real estate market under the government’s Dubai Strategic Plan has actually been completed. So, even against a backdrop of a wider global economic slowdown, real estate growth is still expected to expand at a very healthy rate over the next five years.
“Moreover, the wider GCC region currently has over $1.5 trillion of real estate projects under construction or planned. Sunland has moved adroitly and swiftly to capitalise on this buoyant market. Our key challenge in Dubai has been to import our knowledge and core skills of innovative design, artistic flair and quality, yet marry this with local customs, market knowledge and heritage.
“We have achieved this local knowledge through our highly successful partnerships with Emirates Investment Group and Arabtec, the largest construction group in the UAE, with whom we signed an agreement with back in May 2006 to deliver our projects.
“I believe the reasons for the ongoing demand for residential property in the UAE are quite simply inward investment, in-migration, tourism, good living standards and internal economic expansion.”
Sunland’s significant expansion in the UAE means its Group development portfolio is now balanced between the Australian and international projects, allowing it to concentrate and capitalise upon different market cycles and opportunities and pursue our expansion ambitions.
Accordingly, Sunland International is continuing to identify opportunities in the region. At the Cityscape Dubai in October, Sunland will be launching one of its waterfront projects, with the other beachfront property to be launched later in the year.
Within the UAE the next logical step for the Sunland brand is Abu Dhabi and it is a priority for Sunland to provide the Abu Dhabi market with projects that are special and distinctive to Abu Dhabi yet compliment and build on what the company has achieved in Dubai.
Just as Sunland used its flagship projects such as Q1, Yve and Palazzo Versace Gold Coast as a platform for expansion into the UAE, it will use projects such as Palazzo Versace Dubai and D1 as the basis for further global expansion.
Soheil continues: “Our design flair, development skills and growing stature has enabled us to now move forward to undertake larger more sophisticated luxury mixed-use urban and resort projects and in order to maintain our exacting standards of design and build quality we will focus on a highly select and targeted number of projects at any one time.
“We have a very clear strategy for expansion into new overseas markets and will only build our projects in world class destinations where there is a sustained and proven demand for tourism, luxury brands and outstanding residential properties.
“This is why we are targeting a combination of new growth and tourism regions such as Abu Dhabi and Goa, and established gateway cities such as London and New York following thorough research and feasibility studies of any new destination.”