Interview with
Majd Al Hogail,
CEO of Rafal

Rafal Real Estate was formed in late 2007 by three leading Saudi business groups - Ibrahim A. Abunayyan & Bros. Company, the Arabian Company for Water and Power Development, Ltd. (ACWA Power) and the Arabian Tawazon for Commercial Investment Ltd. - with the vision to lead the market in quality real-estate development focusing on middle income mixed communities.

“Blncyah (Valencia), the first project of Rafal, has recently been completed, and 85% of its 144 housing units have been sold already as freehold properties, not a negligible achievement in a market where pre-sales (buying as yet unconstructed homes on the basis of plans and designs) is not yet an accepted practice,” explains Al Hogail, who was recently elected the kingdom's best executive director in the real estate sector for 2010, his award matching the one won by Rafal´s very first project, Valencia: the Best Residential Project for 2010.

“Blncya is the Arabic form of Valencia, a Spanish city founded by the Arabs. The name was chosen to match the Andalusian architectural style in which most of the community was built.” The community aspect is part of the core vision on the project. Rather than just constructing 144 villas, the company chose to build a gated community on the 85,946 square metre plot smack in the centre of Riyadh.

“We have created a quiet and private neighbourhood”, says Al Hogail. The development has its own 24/7 private security and offers six types of villas, each fitting 6 to 8 household members. Surrounded by 1200 metres of uninterrupted walkway amid beautiful landscaping, the community is linked with a fibre-optics network infrastructure designed to provide smart telecommunications technologies and value-added smart services (VASS) and to facilitate IPTV, state-of-the-art CCTV and wireless broadband.

This 250 million Saudi riyal project is just the first of several Rafal developments currently in various stages of design and construction. Construction has already started on he Burj Rafal Community, a mixed-use 62-story high-rise landmark on a 19,322-square metres plot on the King Fahd Highway in Riyadh. 'The project combines a Kempinski hotel and two spas, luxury serviced apartments plus freehold Manhattan style apartments, smart offices, a boulevard of boutique style retail outlets, restaurants, cafes, conference facilities and a ballroom for up to 2000 people. The $560 million project will be completed by December 2012.

Next up is the Al Rabiyah mixed-use project at the entrance of Riyadh's Diriyya district, a SR400 million residential development covering 120,000 square metres. Two more projects are in the pipeline for Riyadh, and for 2011 other projects are also planned in Jeddah and Dammam.

So far Rafal is the first in gated communities in the KSA, as there is as of yet no competition for them. In community projects in general, they have two competitors: Al Arkan and more recently Emaar.

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