Yousef Al Shelash is guiding Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Co as the chairman of the Saudi Arabia-headquartered real estate development company. As the company’s success grows, it has evolved into collaborations with local and global experts to develop quality real estate properties and services worldwide.
Sheikh Yousef Al Shelash and five other families founded Dar Al Arkan in 1994. What started with small-scale projects has become a leading real estate development company in the Middle East. What’s driving that success? It could have something to do with the way that the Saudi company has partnered on projects with many of the most iconic brands, including Elie Saab, Missoni, Versace, W Hotels Worldwide, and Pagani.
“This is all a part of making Dar Al Arkan a global brand,” says the company’s chairman. He takes pride in showing the world Saudi values. Al Shelash accomplishes this by steering the company to deliver on its promise to produce quality real estate properties within an agreed-upon time frame.
“That is what we are trying to do very hard and very active in our real estate projects outside Saudi,” says Al Shelash. He explains it started “with that very first project that Dar Al Arkan did outside of Saudi Arabia,” which is the Urban Oasis by Missoni residential tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Then, in April 2022, Al Shelash was on-site for the topping out of the structure at 34 stories.
Located on the Dubai Water Canal, the tower is worth AED 800 million (about $218 million. At the time of the topping-off ceremony, the Dar Al Arkan masterpiece with Missoni interiors was 80% sold to an array of homeowners and investors representing 45 nationalities. According to the company, “The tower is Dar Al Arkan’s first project in the United Arab Emirates, and the region’s first-ever bespoke Missoni-inspired living spaces designed by the fashion brand’s Missoni Home line dedicated to interiors, decor, and furnishings.”
The project’s finishing touches are expected before the end of 2023. “The stunning Urban Oasis, in collaboration with Missoni, is one of the best representatives of Italian fashion and contemporary design excellence around the world. It consists of high-end one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments and four-bedroom penthouses with luxury interiors from Missoni Home,” the real estate development company stated. “The unique penthouse apartments, which are accessible via a private elevator, come fully fitted with high-end Missoni fixtures and decor elements. The immaculately designed one, two, and three apartments come in varying sizes and offer unique levels of five-star living, incredible waterfront views, and a closed kitchen.”
Yousef Al Shelash: Picking the Perfect Partner to Better the Business
How does the company decide which brands to partner with on future projects? Al Shelash says, “Deciding is easy because we look at the profile of potential customers, and we see what kind of brands those potential customers like to wear and use.” So the first step is to determine what brands potential property investors have an affinity for. Once the company identifies the most in-demand possible partnerships, Al Shelash says, “Dar Al Arkan would like to expand these brands into their houses. So if you dress up in Missoni, have some Missoni furniture, and attend Missoni fashion shows, why not live in a Missoni apartment also?”
However, Yousef Al Shelash says, “Convincing those brands to work with you is another challenge because those brands are putting their brand image on the line. [This is because] what those brands sell is an image, so they’re very much worried about that image. [Because of that] they would only work with real estate developers who deliver. They want a business that will deliver on time and up to the standards and quality that was agreed upon, or else they would lose their brand image.”
When it works, as is the case with Dar Al Arkan’s ongoing undertakings, the partnership can be incredibly beneficial to both the brand and the real estate development company. “It elevates the status of the company. Not only is it trusted by our customers over the last 28 years, but it is also trusted by brands that are mega brands, who trusted Dar Al Arkan with their brand [enough] to put on our project,” says Al Shelash. “It expanded the company’s customer base because now we are able to deal with economic classes from the mid-economic classes to the ultra-high-net-worth.”
Top 10 Issues Affecting the Real Estate Industry
The Counselors of Real Estate, an international consortium of credentialed real estate problem-solvers established in 1953, recognize 10 major issues influencing the current real estate market. The counselors practice in 21 countries and identify the following as the most significant challenges affecting the industry: inflation and interest rates, geopolitical risk, hybrid work, supply chain disruptions, energy, labor shortage strain, the great housing imbalance, regulatory uncertainty, cybersecurity interruptions, and ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) requirements forcing change.
One of the biggest real estate challenges in Saudi Arabia is acquiring premium land opportunities. “Land is so scarce in the key areas around the globe,” says Yousef Al Shelash. For example, he cites, “Getting a piece of land in Manhattan is a dream; that is why they had to build towers above the train station in the city’s hubs. So it’s the same thing always for real estate developers. It’s finding those land opportunities in key areas because nobody wants the land in an unknown area. We all want the land in key areas. So the first big challenge for a real estate developer is always opportunities in procuring land.”
According to Yousef Al Shelash, the needs of the middle economic classes are shaping real estate preferences. “We’ve seen a shift from stand-alone houses to apartments. People are moving from villas into apartments.” Dar Al Arkan capitalizes on this trend by building comfortable, modern apartments.