Gaining momentum

The Al Raid Group could very well serve as a role model for other companies in the residential, retail and hospitality sector. Not only has the company been successful with all of its ongoing projects in the present economic scenario, but it has also put together a fantastic blueprint and vision for the future. Excerpts from an interview with Vice Chairman, Raid Al Araimi

Al Raid Group is planning to invest a billion dollars over the next five years in Oman. Which are the sectors and projects where this investment will be channelised?

Al Raid group in its 2015-2020 business growth strategy has slotted a dedicated investment of one billion dollars within the residential, retail and hospitality sector. The company has completed the construction of Mumtaz residence with 264 apartments and 21 retail units and the first strip mall – Al Manouma Plaza – which opened in February 2018. The Al Araimi Boulevard is scheduled for opening in September 2018, while the construction of Al Araimi Walk, which will be the largest ever built retailtainment destination in Oman when it opens in 2020, will start in
July 2018.

Oman’s economy is going through a challenging time owing to a fall in
oil prices since its 2014 levels. Given this scenario, what has prompted
Al Raid Group to earmark such a large investment in the Sultanate?

All countries go through economic challenges and Oman is no exception, economic challenges create more efficiency, clear income diversification strategies, flexible laws to attract foreign direct and indirect investment and therefore should be looked at as an opportunity to invest and in time the economy will flourishes and grow. In addition, as a private sector we believe in working hand in hand with the government in implementing its development plans and to further promote investment.

Is the regulatory environment in Oman becoming more business friendly in the light of the government’s efforts to improve the ease of doing business and attracting foreign direct investment?

Yes, it is, by the time it will become more friendly and attractive for investors to grab many opportunities in Oman.

Please share the vision behind Al Araimi Walk and in what ways will it serve the million plus population of the Batinah region?

Al Araimi Walk will be the first outlet mall in Oman with a very strong entertainment offering as well as a wide choice of food and beverage options. It will cater to a strong population that previously had to travel miles to shop and dine. It will create jobs in the Al Batinah region and also become a platform for entrepreneurs to start their business in a world class destination. The Al Araimi Walk will have a large market share in the retail sector and will offer more choices to retailers when it comes to selecting a strategic partner who brings them closer to the consumer by developing a world-class destination.

The retail sector in Oman has undergone a sea change in the last couple of years with a number of big ticket projects. In what ways will The Al Araimi Walk offer a superior retailing experience compared to existing and forthcoming malls/shopping centres?

This will be the surprise that we will thrill the market when we open. We will also be integrating a diversified selection of entertainment themes, outlet stores that offer discounted prices on international brands as well as restaurants, cafes and food halls that offer excellent cuisine diversity with affordable ticket prices.

The Al Raid Group’s Al Araimi Boulevard is ranked (and has been awarded) as one of the Top 25 projects shaping the retailing industry in the region. What accounts for the project’s success?

The dynamic design, outstanding personal service and emotional experience it will offer, the advanced technology to ease shopping and promoting goods and services, creative and innovative offerings that are the first in the region, being an environmentally friendly mall, an amazing outdoor dancing musical fountain of water and fire being the first in the Middle East and much more.

Creating jobs for Omanis is a priority for the government and the private sector, how is the Al Raid Group contributing towards this national goal?

We are promoting it by creating social awareness about the importance of retail in being the largest employing sector with over 54,000 jobs. We are promoting educational and training programmes in association with the Middle East council for shopping centres. We have provided retail space for new entrepreneurs who are very passionate and dedicated to start and grow a retail business.

The Al Raid Group has a proven track record of delivering high-quality projects on schedule. How do you ensure that there are no time and cost overruns?

We create very detailed designs and a proper itemised Bill of quantity done by very professional quantity surveyors. We also have a very strong in-house engineering department with highly experienced architects, engineers, QS and interior design who go through the details and ensure that the project is well managed and delivered on time.

Please share the investment that has gone into Al AraimiWalk?

The gross development value of Al Araimi Walk is close to $300mn.

The Group has excelled in asset management over the years. Which are the future projects and plans that the Group is working on currently (please share timelines of these projects).

We are working on a sea front resort as well as a desert resort to commence in early 2019 as well as a shopping centre in Sur.

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