Business Interview: Mohamed A K Al Emadi
The CEO of Al Emadi Enterprises speaks to Aparajita Mukherjee and Syed Ameen Kader about the business model of his company, focusing in particular on their ambitious and unique Al Hazm project.
A 100 percent Qatari company, Al Emadi Enterprises was established 18 years ago as a real estate developer.
Talking about the business paradigm of the company, Mohamed A K Al Emadi, CEO of Al Emadi Enterprises, says, “We are one of the companies that pioneered the Build-Own-Transfer (BOT) business model in Qatar. BOT was something new to the region and to Qatar. Al Emadi Enterprises started this model with prominent areas in Doha.”
The company operates in two distinct segments – commercial and residential – in the capacity of property developer and manager in Doha. “We own a number of the buildings in Doha such as the Financial Square, Al Emadi Business Centre,” Al Emadi explains, then adding that the corporate vision of Al Emadi Enterprises revolves around quality of service.
Commenting on the corporate values of the company, Al Emadi tells The Edge, “We believe in guarding our reputation, thus our thrust on the quality standards of each of our projects. Qatar is a small country and we believe that the best promotion of what we do lies in the execution standards of our projects, and the quality of our service.”
Illustrating Al Emadi Enterprises’ values, he cites Al Hazm, which in the words of Al Emadi, is a purely Qatari investment, right from conceptualisation and design to construction. Al Emadi says, “This project, when delivered, will be one of the highest quality, comprising mainly marble and stone, with no artificial materials being used in the
Going back to 2006, when it was conceptualised, Al Emadi reveals that the idea dawned on him when he was in Italy. Detailing out, Al Emadi says, “I was at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, in one the of the main piazza. While there, I said to myself, ‘I hope we have something like this in Qatar.’“
Describing the project as a dream, Al Emadi tells The Edge that Al Hazm is akin to his fingerprint, his signature, “on my country because I believe, as a private sector operator, we are obliged to deliver projects of superior quality.”
Why did Italian historical architecture legacy inspire Al Emadi?
“We want to tell the people that Qatar is not only about hydrocarbon and the related wealth – we do have a rich heritage and the Al Hazm project is our way of showing the world that we have knowledge and excellence beyond energy. If we look around the country, we will notice that the nation is undertaking initiatives related to culture and heritage,” reveals Al Emadi.
Connecting his dream of bringing architectural excellence to the nation with that of the Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030), Al Emadi mentions that the theme of diversification of the country beyond energy is well documented in the QNV 2030.
“The QNV 2030 lays down the roadmap of how to approximate the vision of HH the father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. There is a vision behind all of these non-energy sector projects which is going to shape the country in the longer term,” he explains.
Commenting on how the design of Al Hazm was done, Al Emadi mentions that, though inspired by Italian architecture, “it is the inhouse design team of 30 architects and designers that delivered it”. He adds that there is a high level of personal involvement from him in the Al Hazm project and he oversees the minute details such as selection of marble, the particular shade that would be suitable for the construction.
Talking about the craftsmen on the project, Al Emadi informs The Edge that there are craftsmen from several countries, including India and Turkey, adding, “Given the scale and size of the project, we have a multinational team working in tandem in various facets and stages of the project.”
Right from finding land, to the design of the project, the detailed and intricate interior work has been challenging, Al Emadi tells The Edge.
For example, the developer wanted to execute Al Hazm using whole marble. “Durability was the main reason,” Al Emadi furthers, “if you want to construct a project that should last for the coming 40 or 50 years, the only option is to use marble and stone.”
Additionally, in the opinion of Al Emadi, with the summer temperatures, marble offers protection and comfort during the season.
Regarding the sustainability features of Al Hazm, Al Emadi reveals that on completion, the project will apply for environmental ratings, on the back of their usage of solar energy panels for the power usage in the project and using recyclable and energy-saving resources such as LED bulbs.
Discussing what has been the toughest part for the project as a whole, Al Emadi mentions that translating the depth of the carving work in the columns in stone and marble, “which is mainstay of the design, has been a great challenge. To make the carvings and the big columns look authentic, just as one sees them in Europe, is difficult in this part of the world, in a given cost bracket and the time that we have taken to complete the first phase of the project – six years.”
Confirming that as part of the corporate plan, the first phase will open in the first quarter of 2016, Al Emadi mentions, “Phase two, which comprises the galleria, will open later in 2016.”
Major aspects of Al Hazm
Al Hazm has two major components: retail, and food and beverage.
Clarifying how he sees the segments within the project, Al Emadi says, “Al Hazm offers a unique combination between food and beverage, and retail. Through Al Hazm, we are trying to bring something which the Qatar market has not seen so far, especially in term of the food. There will be a wide variety of food – the best Italian restaurants, Turkish restaurants, French food, and the choicest spread of Qatari food will also be available.”
Al Emadi informs that the ambience of the location will stand out, with effort being made towards tasteful landscaping, adding, “We have brought olive trees from Italy which are about 200 years old, that are part of the garden area”.
Without disclosing the total number of retail bookings and the brands that have signed up with Al Hazm so far, Al Emadi tells The Edge, “We have signed almost 8000 square metres of the total retail area and the rest are under negotiation.” Al Emadi does confirm, however, that all the brands that will get exposure at Al Hazm will be luxury brands from various European markets such as Italy and France. Pegged at QAR3 billion, the Al Hazm project is likely to have a longer payback period, given the complexities involved in terms of the quality and the diversity of offerings, right from food and retail to the ambience that it will offer.
For Al Emadi, Al Hazm is more a complete destination, which gives him the confidence to remain unfazed in the face of competition, moreover when considering if Al Hazm will retain its footfall, even after the 2022 World Cup “We expect Al Hazm to attract people because of its iconic nature for a long time to come,” he closes