DAMAC International has indicated it is looking for real estate footholds in Croatia, expanding its international holdings far beyond the reaches of the Middle East.
DAMAC, also known as DAMAC Properties, is best known for its luxury development and real estate holdings in the Middle East. Since it was founded in 2002 by Hussain Sajwani, the company has delivered nearly 20,000 luxury homes, residences, hotels, and other luxury buildings. DAMAC real estate holdings can now be found from the United Arab Emirates to the United Kingdom.
Now the company is setting its sights on Croatia.
The news comes from Wael Al Lawati, who serves as DAMAC’s Senior Vice President of International Business Development. He was a featured panel speaker at REXPO 2017, hosted by the Croatian FDI Forum.
Statements made by Al Lawati indicate that the company is currently looking at three locations within Croatia that could serve as potential sites for new development projects. The cities include Istria, Dalmatia, and Dubrovnik. The latter in the list is world-renown as a tourist destination.
Also discussed was the city of Split, which has the allure of holding rich history as well as its own harbor and islands. These aspects of the city, which is shared by others also cited by Al Lawati, would make for prime luxury holdings that could serve to enrich the country through tourist attractions. Additionally, luxury residences were discussed as a potential pathway for DAMAC in the country.
Al Lawati spoke at length about the role that Croatia plays as the host of European gateway cities, emphasizing that Istria, in particular, has the added benefit of geographical proximity to both Italy and Slovenia, making it easier for European tourists to access the city by car or train.
The appearance of Al Lawati at REXPO 2017 comes as little surprise to those in the real estate industry; DAMAC founder Hussain Sajwani made a personal trip to Croatia in July 2017. His trip was highlighted by a meeting with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in which they discussed possible real estate forays.
DAMAC has not yet released any concrete plans to work in the country, but the trip by Sajwani and Al Lawati’s appearance in Croatia, along with reports that certain locations were surveyed for opportunities, creates strong speculation that investment opportunities will soon be on the horizon.
Al Lawati stated as much at REXPO 2017, telling an audience that: “DAMAC has the capital and resources to carry out large-scale projects and with the right local partners and government collaboration, it could soon be announcing a major project in Croatia.”
The company certainly has the capital necessary for mounting any type of venture in Croatia; in June 2017, DAMAC won a contract with the Government of Oman for a redevelopment project of the Port Sultan Qaboos in Muscat. That contract is estimated to be worth $1 billion USD and will focus on transforming the port into a tourist destination, including entertainment offerings, hotels, and residences.
In addition, DAMAC has partnered with United States of America President Donald Trump’s own real estate company; the collaboration is focused on holdings in the United Arab Emirates. Forbes notes that Sajwani has previously built a massive community, estimated to cover 42-million-square-feet, that includes a Trump-branded gold course with a similar project already in the works.
This is also bolstered by the fact that DAMAC often partners with large brands, including Bugatti, Fendi, and Versace, to build its estimated $1.9 billion USD-in-sales DAMAC Properties. While much of the company’s holdings remain in the Middle East, Sajwani and DAMAC are looking for more opportunities to expand into international holdings.
While Croatia seems to be the most pressing matter for DAMAC, the company is also interested in investing in America. There is little information on any prospective contracts, but with Sajwani, nothing is out of the question, especially when it comes to real estate.
Hussain Sajwani, the founder and chairman of DAMAC Properties, is a UAE national who holds a degree from the University of Washington. He began his illustrious career as a contracts manager for GASCO before founding a catering venue in 1982.
In the mid-1990s, Sajwani moved into real estate in Dubai, building a variety of hotels that focused on businesspeople and tourists who enjoyed staying in the city. This introduction into the real estate market enabled Sajwani to see a new opportunity for real estate in the Middle East and in 2002, he founded DAMAC Properties.
The company is now a publicly-listed market that trades on the Dubai Financial Market. With nearly 2,000 employees, DAMAC Properties is now a parent company to DAMAC Maison. Sajwani is also the owner of DICO Investments Co LLC, an investment company that trades in global and regional investment markets.
Sajwani and the company’s interest in Croatia has yet to be made into actual business; however, it is thought that an announcement will be coming in the new year. Until then, all the real estate world can do is wait with bated breath to see what DAMAC Properties’ next real estate move will be.