Al-Rae’e: Bahrain boasts real estate investment-attracting elements

  • Law on regulating the real estate development sector preserves the rights of owners and investors.
  • Riffa Views’ Home Owners’ Association has contributed to improving the quality of the services provided for owners.
  • We are about to finish the construction of the Riffa Views’ residential complex, which is value-added in the real estate market in the region.
  • Riffa Views is the largest housing project in Bahrain in terms of green spaces.

Managing Director of the Riffa Views real estate company, Yasser Abdulrahman Al-Rae’e, has called for expediting the approval of the new real estate development law in Bahrain, noting that the law will protect the rights of all investors and ensure fairness for all parties through the organisation of the sale and the joint ownership of property and mortgage insurance. He added that the new law will also regulate the affairs of the workers in the real estate sector.

Al-Rae’e stressed that Bahrain will not be greatly affected by the political and economic crises witnessed by the region, adding that the kingdom has robust potentials that make it the least affected by such crises.

On the Riffa Views’ Home Owners’ Association, Al-Rae’e described the experience as wonderful as it has contributed significantly to the developing the project and maintaining the elements of its success, noting that since its establishments in 2012, the association has been a value-added body in the Riffa Views, and it is crucial for ensuring the sustainability of the project's services, and maintaining their quality, as it is in charge of the local modern administrative tasks.

In another context, Al-Rae’e asserted that the completion of the Parks Estate does not mean the end of the Riffa Views project. On the contrary, he said, it will augur a new phase based on sustainability and efforts to maintain the well-being and modern life for owners and residents. He also lauded the investors’ admiration of the Parks Estate which was designed in accordance with the Mediterranean style, noting that the construction works at the estate will be completed during the last quarter of 2017.

He expressed pride in the Riffa Views’ blending of modernity and greenery, which entitles to be the largest housing projects in Bahrain in terms of green spaces, noting the green areas which also cover the golf course, make up more than 60 percent of the total area of the project.

Below is the full text of the interview:

• The announcement of the resumption of works to complete the remaining villas at the Parks Estate and the beginning of their sale has been a major issue across real estate development circles recently. What could you tell us about that?

As you know, a compromise deal was reached last year between the company, the National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) and the creditors to sign the action plan of the completion of the last phase of the Riffa Views Project. Then, all the construction contracts to build the remaining villas of the Parks Estate were signed, and the remaining 212 villas, or 20% of the project whose estates and facilities had been completed over the past yeasr, have been put for sale.

The construction works had started early December, 2015, and are expected to continue for 24 months. Three companies were assigned with the construction works to fast-track the building process and ensure completion with the pre-set schedule. Poullaides Construction Company will complete the construction of 61 villas, while the Projects Construction Company will build 78 villas. The completion of the remaining 73 villas was assigned to the Cyprus Cybarco Tabet JV. Meanwhile, Adel Ahmadi Associates Company was named the engineering consultant to supervise the construction works.

With the increasing pace of the construction process, the interest of investors has grown, as they have shown a desire to be informed about the details of the project. What is remarkable is that a number of the current Riffa Views’ owners have shown interest in purchasing another property as an extension to the family, or for future investment.

Today, we have come a long way through in the construction works currently witnessed by the Parks Estate. We are extremely pleased by the completion of the project in the midst of the commitment of all parties to the provisions of the brokered deal which has been widely welcomed among real estate development circles.

• How could you describe the Parks Estate?

In order to provide diversity and avoid monotony in the project, the Parks Estate was designed to reflect the architectural pattern of the north Mediterranean through external design of the villas, the choice of colours and the use of roof tiles, in addition to spacious gardens and green corridors.

As to the size of the housing units, they are similar to those of the Lagoon and Oasis estates’ villas. The Parks Estate’s villas contain between 2 to 6 bedrooms. However, the average size of land lots in this estate is bigger than those in the other estates to give the owners larger areas for the home garden.

• The Riffa Views was once a dream, and now it has become a reality. How do you see this exploit?

The Riffa Views is an achievement for all the owners who have believed in the project since the beginning, and today they enjoy living in their unique and special community which blends modern life with green environment in an unmatched way.

I think that we have achieved a lot of the ambitions of this project despite the challenges. What is important now is to preserve the gains attained so far and ensure sustainable well-being for the home-owners because they look forward to living in a community that provides them with tranquility, secure garden for their children to play and to spend memorable times with their families and neighbours.

• What makes Riffa Views different from other real estate projects in the Kingdom?

As you know, every project has its distinguished aspects, and Riffa Views is no exception. In Riffa Views, the focus has been on views on the tranquil landscape and green spaces spreading across the three estates –the Oasis, the Lagoon and the Parks, not to mention the picturesque environment and the golf course, which is planted with natural grass and covers more than 60 % of the whole area of the project.

As well as that, the spread of public gardens with safe playgrounds for children, the multi-use playgrounds with open green spaces where many sports, such as tennis and football, can be practised, the tennis and football academies, Riffa Palms Mall, mosques, and recently the Riffa Views International School, which is a leader in providing world-standard education, from kindergarten to secondary, make the Riffa Views a unique and distinguished complex.

• You mentioned gardens, sports clubs, an international school and a commercial complex, what do these facilities add to the project?

As i have said, the provision of basic services for the residents of Riffa Views’ residents tops our priorities, as they are essential in a project of this size. Therefore, we have been keen to set up key and indispensible facilities while constructing the three residential complexes to meet the needs of the owners.

Moreover, the world-standard prestigious Riffa Views International School is reputed not only at the level of Bahrain, but at the international level thanks to its modern curricula and innovative teaching and learning strategies. It was opened in 2008-2009, and the first batch will graduate this year.

We also have the Royal Golf Club with its 18-hole course, and which was designed by famous professional golfer, Colin Montgomerie, according to the standards of the World Championships. There is also a 9-hole golf course, and both have attracted the most famous world golf players over the past years. There is also the Country Club which includes an integrated health club, a swimming pool, restaurants and an outdoor multi-purpose stadium.

We also have two sports academies, which are the JC's Tennis Academy and the Riffa Views’ Football Academy, and both attract young talent.

The last facilities to be added is the Riffa Palms Mall which includes a supermarket and restaurants that serve residents and visitors, which, he said, has turned it into a meeting point and social communication in the Southern Governorate.

There are also three mosques, one in each estate. The mosques of the Oasis and Pars estates have been completed, and that of the Lagoon will be completed before the end of this year.

• The government has recently referred a draft law on regulating the real estate sector to the Legislative Branch. Have you read the details of the new bill? And what will it add to the sector?

Certainly, we have been strong advocates of the enactment of a new law to regulate the real estate development sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain. We have also been keen to make sure that the new law preserves the rights of all investors and ensures fairness for all parties through regulating sale, joint ownership of property and mortgage insurance. At the same time, the new law has to regulate the affairs of the real estate development workers.

Personally, I call for expediting the approval of the draft law on regulating the real estate development sector, being an urgent demand amid the problems facing the sector in t eh kingdom. The law, once passed, would preserve the achievements of the nation and preserve the rights of all stakeholders, including owners and investors. It will certainly consolidate investment in the sector in Bahrain and bridge the existing gap in the fields of real estate development and real estate investment.

The draft law is an advanced step towards regulating the work of real estate development companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and world countries desiring to invest in Bahrain. In brief, passing the proper legislation would be a successful opportunity to boost the real estate development sector in Bahrain, and protect the rights of all parties, which will consolidate the kingdom’s investment status.

• We have witnessed many induction visits organised by the Riffa Views’ Management recently for associations and NGOs. What are the goals of these visits?

From time to time, we invite civil society organisations and the representatives of companies and various economic sectors in Bahrain to visit the Riffa Views. We then honour them and inform them about the project and its distinctive features. We also discuss with them ways to develop such a very important sector.

Recently, we were pleased to host the Maserati car owners in Bahrain through the ceremony we held Parks Estate. We were also very delighted to meet the Maserati car owners, alongside their families and friends, with whom we exchanged cordial talks, and toured all Riffa Views’ estates. The Euro Motors Company, namely the Maserati section, collaborated with us in organising the gathering.

We also invited a delegation from the Bahrain Property Developers Association (BaPDA), within the framework of cooperation and communication with various real estate developers and real estate companies in the kingdom. The visiting delegation lauded the Riffa Views project, and praised the successful experience of establishing the Home Owners’ Association to assist the management in managing the residential complex’s affairs. They also stressed the good reputation of the project.

Such visits are within the framework of an annual plan that the Riffa Views Management had approved. Through the plan, we aim to invite a number of clubs and association to visit the Riffa Views complex to highlight its requirements of success and modern life that cater to the need of all family members. We also aim to inform the public about the villas that are currently put for sale at the Parks Estate regarding their sizes, rooms and outstanding services and facilities.

• What could you tell us about your experience in establishing the Home Owners’ Association? And what could be done to develop the experience?

I can say for sure that the Home Owners’ Association has contributed considerably to developing this project and maintaining the elements of it success. I was among those who supported the establishment of the association so that owners participate in the management of their own residential complex. Today, they are doing great work that serves the aspirations of all owners.

This Home Owners’ Association is a value-added body in the Riffa Views, and it is crucial to ensuring the sustainability of the project's services, and maintaining their quality, as it is in charge of the local modern administrative tasks. We supported its establishment since the beginning, and we have been keen on cooperating with it through its elected board of directors since 2012.

Despite the novelty of the experience not only at the level of the Riffa Views project, but also across the real estate sector, in particular, and in the Bahraini society as a whole, we believe that the role of the Home Owners’ Association should develop quickly. It is the voice of the owners and the means of their interaction with the members of their community, and we are sure that one day it will be in charge of all administrative and service matters at the Riffa Views residential complex.

• Considering that the Riffa Views is among the first deluxe real estate projects in Bahrain, How has the property development market and sector changed since its inception?

The Riffa Views project is the first of its kind in Bahrain regarding the provision of green spaces and playgrounds, wonderful panoramic views on the golf courses, as well as its strategic location in the heart of the Kingdom of Bahrain. I believe that the Riffa Views project has brought about a quantum leap within the series of real estate development projects in the kingdom. Since its establishment, many real estate development companies have visited the Riffa Views Project to get first-hand information about its elements and unique feature. This has set a new challenge for the real estate development market that the luxury and quality of work and construction of other property development projects should not be less than those of the Riffa Views.

Concerning the situation of the real estate development sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain, it is undoubtedly considered one of the main economic sectors in the economic development process in the country, and this is reflected in the government’s keen interest to develop and support it.

The real estate market in Bahrain is robust, and considered the best in the region, as it is growing steadily and the investors are increasingly interested in it thanks to the success requirements it provides, which enhances the investors’ confidence and increases the chances of success for real estate projects.

In fact, demand on the real estate market may decline from time to time, but from a general perspective, we find that it is on the rise. The temporary decline is caused by fears linked to external factors, and Bahrain is one of the least affected by such fluctuations.

• According to you, what are the problems facing the real estate sector in the region? And what are obstacles it is currently facing?

The problems facing the real estate sector are almost the same in most countries. They are related to changes in oil prices, capital markets, shortage of liquidity and global economic and political conditions. In spite of that, the real estate projects are expanding and prospering.

Also, the effects of the political and economic crises in many countries are of one of the biggest challenges that impede the march of the real estate sector. However, these effects vary from one country to another. The real estate market in Bahrain is usually not affected by the crises that may occur in the region thanks to the geographical size of the country compared to the countries of the region. Unlike Bahrain, the real estate markets in some countries are quickly affected by instability and political or economic crises that occur in their regions.

Today, the problems facing the stalling projects are being solved thanks to the efforts exerted by the Ministerial Committee for Urbanisation and Infrastructure, which has succeeded in putting many real estate projects back on track.

However, attracting foreign capitals into the country is needed in order to push the economic development process forward. At the same time, laws and legislation that guarantee the rights of all real estate development projects’ parties should be put in place in order to contribute to increasing the economic growth rate, and strengthening the national economy.

• Recently, the government has shown great interest in supporting projects that encourage tourism in Bahrain. What opportunities can real estate projects, such as the Riffa Views, provide for tourism in Bahrain?

It is commonly agreed that the real estate projects are the main engines of economic, human, tourism and cultural development in all countries of the world, and Bahrain is no exception. Indeed, the success of tourism relies heavily on making Bahrain a perfect country to live in the region, given its small size, strategic location and low cost of living. In this way, the kingdom is slated to become an ideal choice for a second residence for many GCC and foreign tourists alike.

In Riffa Views, we have many experiences of many of GCC and foreign families that take Bahrain as a second residence, and they own several properties in Riffa Views. They have chosen the Riffa Views because they have found all the requirements of a modern lifestyle that blends modernity with green environment.

In addition, many other families own houses in a number of other real estate projects in Bahrain. I strongly believe that the development and progress of tourism in Bahrain depends primarily on real estate projects. Whenever these projects are varied in the housing, recreational, service, cultural and trade aspects, tourism will certainly flourish.

• What are your plans after the completion of the Parks Estate’s villas and the project as a whole?

The completion of the Parks Estate does by any means mean the end of the Riffa Views’ project. On the contrary, it will augur a new phase based on sustainability and efforts to maintain the well-being and modern life for owners and residents. As a first step, we set up the Riffa Views Real Estate Company which is in charge of the management of the community. It also meets the needs of the owners and residents, maintains the quality of services provided to them, determines and collects the charges on the services, under the direct supervision of the elected Home Owners’ Association. The ownership of this company will be transferred to the Home Owners’ Association in the future, as stipulated by the forthcoming law, which is in its final stages.