Benoy Kurien has been the driving force behind Al Hamra’s successful expansion. As the Group CEO of Al Hamra, one of the top real estate developers in the UAE, Benoy oversees the operations and assets of the US$1 billion group.
As we all start to sink in the new year of 2022, wow-rak has a talk with Benoy on Al Hamra’s reflection on 2021
What was your strategy to overcome the after-effects of the peak pandemic?
One of the defining strategies of Al Hamra in 2021 was to pivot to a new model in place-making, where the focus was to celebrate the richness of Ras Al Khaimah and create best in class lifestyle experiences for investors from around the world.
The pandemic underpinned the need for a new approach to living, working and leisure, especially as more people switched to working from home, and sought safer destinations, away from the metropolises and the busy city life.
Ras Al Khaimah, with its pristine natural splendour and a diverse range of natural attractions – from the UAE’s largest peak to the white sandy beaches, overbaked deserts as well as a rich heritage – was the first to emerge from the pandemic by reporting normalcy followed by strong visitor arrivals.
What were the external factors that triggered growth during last year?
As the premier lifestyle developer in the Northern Emirates, our focus was to complement Ras Al Khaimah government’s strategy in promoting the destination globally as a safe city that has been certified by Bureau Veritas,
With Ras Al Khaimah being selected as the Gulf Tourism Capital for 2021, and the government’s visionary approach to make the Emirate a preferred investment destination for SMEs, entrepreneurs and freelance professionals with freehold properties, 100% ownership and zero income tax, we drew on the opportunity to attract investors from the region and globally.
What were your key diffrentiators as a part of “place-making strategy”?
We offered our long-term residency visa package, in partnership with the Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone, providing investors the opportunity of securing a 12-year residency visa as well as a business licence. This was a game-changer as investors from across the world bought into our residences at Al Hamra Village and Bab Al Bahr. Given these attractive initiatives, our residential communities are now home to more than 100 nationalities.
Our iconic MICE destination, Al Hamra International Exhibition & Conference Centre hosted the first in-person event in the Emirate since the pandemic with the eighth Arab Aviation Summit followed by Global Citizen Forum. This further promoted the destination among investors and the aviation and tourism sector globally.
The Manar Mall Promenade further redefined retail and leisure becoming a hub for entertainment for residents and tourists alike.
This diversified approach was to further hone our ‘place-making strategy’ that leverages urban planning, design and the management of public spaces with people at its heart. This will continue to be our key differentiator as we seek to create more value for our residents, visitors and investors.
From our experience of managing the pandemic and keeping the business afloat, we have learned to innovate as well as reinvent our offerings to meet the changing needs of our customers.
The agility we demonstrated gave us the first-mover advantage in the Emirate as well as the UAE.