Driven By Duty: wasl Asset Management Group CEO H.E. Hesham Al Qassim

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The CEO of wasl Asset Management Group, H.E. Hesham Al Qassim, details how his company is helping make Dubai the "best city to visit, work and live in."

Hesham Al Qassim-CEO of wasl Asset Manegement Group

As Dubai gets closer to its hosting of Expo 2020, can you talk about how wasl is contributing to ensuring the success of this mega event?

"Everything we do at wasl is driven by a duty to support the government's vision of making Dubai the best city to visit, work and live in. We are pleased to be furthering this ambition with the launch of an unprecedented number of major hotel projects in 2017, which will bring globally acclaimed hospitality players including MGM, Mandarin Oriental and other renowned names to Dubai. By working with such celebrated hotel and resort operators, we are significantly raising the bar of excellence across the board– from mid-range to the height of luxury. We are confident that these projects will cement Dubai's position as one of the world's favorite destinations by offering not only tourists, but also residents and visitors, ever more extraordinary experiences and opportunities.

Our projects are particularly important in the wider context of Expo 2020, which is fast approaching and will see Dubai receiving millions of new visitors. We are fully committed to supporting our government's high aspirations for Expo 2020, and our mega hospitality projects will ensure that our international guests are catered to in the world-class style that Dubai has become globally renowned for.

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the one million square foot, semi-artificial island on Jumeira's beachfront in March of this year. This project will see wasl bringing the MGM Hotel and Bellagio Resort to the Middle East for the first time. Construction work for the project will commence in December of this year, and the hotels are due for completion within only four years.

Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah. Image credit: wasl

wasl is also working on Dubai's second luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel, which is due to open in November 2020. This will be the second Mandarin Oriental by wasl; the first one is being developed on Jumeira's beachfront and is due to open in the fourth quarter of 2018. Alongside the MGM and Mandarin Oriental projects, wasl has recently launched the Hyatt Centric The Palm Dubai hotel, which will be the first from the Hyatt Centric brand in the region. Designed with the modern day and responsible traveler in mind, the rooms will be equipped with environmentally conscious bath products and Bluetooth-enabled electronics. The project is due completion in the fourth quarter of 2018."

Tell us about wasl's existing projects such as wasl Gate and wasl Tower, what do you think these projects will add to Dubai's real estate landscape?

"Amana Contracting is due to commence site work at wasl Gate soon and will be responsible for the project's first phase, which includes 256 townhouses and a community center. The second phase will feature 1,440 hillside apartments, which are currently under design, and a contractor will be appointed by Q1 2018.

The wasl Gate project will be accompanied by a lifeestyle-oriented hospitality and entertainment offering, a world-class sports complex, K-12 schools with international curriculums, and a central park connecting the community's commercial and residential neighborhoods. The project is due completion in the fourth quarter of 2019.

wasl Tower. Image credit: wasl

As for wasl Tower, Arabtec was appointed in May of this year as the contractor for the 63-storey mixed-use development, where site work is expected to commence soon. The project includes residential, commercial and hospitality elements as the tower will contain not only 148 luxurious residential apartments and a full suite of sports facilities, retail outlets, restaurants, cafés and other services, but also the five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel with a further 257 rooms.

wasl Tower will incorporate ceramic façades with photovoltaic solar panels to help regulate its interior temperature and reduce ambient noise, while its vertical garden will support sustainability and help to significantly reduce the tower's carbon footprint. The development will provide a fully integrated residential offering and is being developed as a commanding addition to the city's skyline. The tower is due completion in the fourth quarter of 2020.

We are confident that each of these unique projects will contribute significantly to Dubai's flourishing real estate landscape in their own way, and together they will bring thousands of new residential units onto the market. These projects will also further enhance wasl's property portfolio, as above all we are committed to supporting the government's vision of making Dubai the world's top residential destination by 2021."

What are some of the other projects in wasl's pipeline that you would like to highlight?

"We recently announced a new project in Warsan, which has been launched as part of our strategic preparations for Expo 2020 and will deliver much needed accommodation for hospitality staff. The project will comprise of 26 buildings in a resort-style lay out and is distinguished from other developments by the fact that it will provide hospitality employees with 3,866 residential units spread over a built-up area of 2.6 million square feet.

wasl Gate. Image credit: wasl

We also have several other projects in the pipeline such as our development in Qusais 5, which is aimed at low and middle-income tenants. An infrastructure contractor has recently been appointed to undertake the work on the project's 62 buildings, which will bring 6,200 units to the area on a 4.4 million square foot site. The project will also feature high-end facilities and modern infrastructure, as well as parks, schools and kindergartens. It will be handed over in phases, with the first phase due for completion by May 2020 and the second phase due for completion by March 2022.

Another upcoming development is our project at Ras Al Khor, which has been launched to provide low to middle-income earners with 2,500 residential units housed in 42 buildings. Infrastructure works are almost complete and the main package is expected to begin in July 2017. The main contractor has commenced mobilization for phase one with enabling works in progress, and work for phase two and phase three is in the preparatory stage. Residents will be provided with every comfort, including health clubs, a school, a mosque, retail shops, and green gardens with water fountains. The project is due for completion by November 2020."

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