Two weeks ago, a reputable real estate company, Sobha Hartland, held an exhibition at Eko Hotels and Suites in Lagos. Sobha as popularly called is a Dubai-based real estate company. The company was Founded in 1976. Sobha is one of the largest real estate organisations in India and the Middle East, especially Dubai. Today, the company has a presence in 24 cities and 13 states across India and throughout the Middle East. As one of the largest and only backwards-integrated real estate developers, the company’s remains a deliverer of the highest level of quality, with no compromise.
The exhibition held in Lagos was to sensitise Nigerians on how to own a lifetime real estate investment in Dubai through Sobha. Now, the company has an off-plan project in the heart of Dubai and wants Nigerians to key-in into the project.
City People’s ISAAC ABIMBADE spoke with the Sales Manager of the company, who is a Nigerian, Mr Johnny Ozuzu, about the company and the benefits it has for subscribers.
What is the essence of the exhibition?
The purpose is to bring real estate investment opportunities from Dubai to Nigerian people.
Tell us more about the company, Sobha Hartland?
Sobha Hartland is a 41-year- old company, it’s one of the biggest real estate companies in Dubai. We have projects not only in Dubai, but we also have in London, we have in Oman and we have in India. In India, we are one of the biggest real estate companies. We are palace builders.
Our company is synonymous with quality. Our project site is an 8million-square-feet community which is in the heart of Dubai, in Meydan, a place called Sheik Mohammed Bin Rasheed City, Dubai. It’s just 7 minutes drive away from Dubai Mall, Burj Kalipha.
We can see that you are a Nigerian. Can you tell us about your relationship with the company?
I’m a Nigerian by birth, but I have been living in the Diaspora now for over 15 years. Now, I base in Dubai; I live there with my family, but I used to live in London. I work for Sobha Hartland as a Sales Manager. If you check us up on the internet, you will see what we have done.
Why did you choose to come to Nigeria?
Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa in terms of human capital and It’s one of the biggest in the world. There is a lot of Nigerians looking forward to making secured international real estate investment. That’s why we came. It’s not our first time here; we have been here before. Last month we were here in Eko Hotels.
Dubai is the most secure place where you can do a real estate investment. For instance, our project guarantees you 10 per cent of return annually. You are also guaranteed a minimum of 25 per cent capital appreciation on the units you decide to buy. Like I told you, we have serious apartment plan. Our project starts with 300,000 dollars and we have up to 4 million dollars as the case may be.
How do you incorporate the income earners into your project?
Basically, our products come with a payment plan. What we are selling now is an off-plan project and it’s in 3 phases. Phase one has been completed and handed over. Phase 2 would be ready in May 2019 (construction work in progress) and phase 3 would be ready in October next year also. We don’t do long-term off-plan. Our project is basically within one or two years, maximum.
What is the benefit of the subscribers?
There’s a lot of benefits for real estate subscriber in Dubai. No 1, there’s a new Law that says if you invest one Million (Dirham) and above, you and member of your immediate family will get right to live and work in Dubai, which means you will be given residence permit. UAE (Dubai), exclusively is now the centre of the world; it has the busiest airport, it has the longest residential tower in the world, called Financial Stable Economy. The dollars have been fixed in the last 6 to 7 years to 3.65 to the Dirham. It’s not like in Nigeria where you wake up and the dollar is N500 and tomorrow N350. It’s been fixed in Dubai. It’s a very stable economy. It’s a multicultural society. It’s a country that secures your investment. You can’t have recessions and an unexpected financial crisis over there in Dubai, it doesn’t happen there. It is a very organised city.
How do you compare the real estate sector in Dubai to Nigeria?
The real estate in Nigeria is still at an embryo stage. It will require a lot of financial capital to be invested in it by investors or the government. We have got a lot of offers, quotations from companies here (Nigeria) for us to come to here (Nigeria) to partner with them, but there’s a lot of risk factors involved that we are looking at. No 1, is the instability nature of society, in terms of electricity; power supply, manpower, security.
In the last couple of months Nigeria seems to be much secure, but for those coming to invest, they still see Nigeria as an unsafe place and this is hindering foreign investment to come and help the real estate industry to grow. But I was impressed when I saw that Eko Atlantic was doing good, but it still needs international partnership, but the companies in the Diaspora are sceptical because of the factors mentioned above.
Today, if you announced a budget that you are going to spend one billion or ten billion naira on a project, you would find out that at end of the tenure of that project or before the project comes to live, you must have spent 20% extra of that budget because of unstable prices and fluctuation of currency values.
These are all factors hindering foreign investors from coming to Nigeria to invest in real estate and that is why many people are taking their money to the more stable economy like Dubai. In Dubai, you don’t experience a power failure, you don’t experience instability in the currency value. Everybody knows I have been living in Dubai for many years the price of Dollar to Dirham always remains stable.
What would be your advice to the Nigerian government?
Advising government in this country is like a fairytale because I hardly see them take such advice.
How long have you been in the real estate?
Have been in real estate for the past 7 years. I used to live in the UK before I relocated to Dubai with my family. In Dubai, I had worked with a company before I joined Sobha Hartland and I have been with them for 2 years now.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was born in Nigeria. I’m from Imo State. I schooled in Lagos. I speak Yoruba, Igbo and English very well. I went to Nigerian Navy Secondary School, from there I went to Obafemi Awolowo University. Shortly after, I went to the UK for my master’s.