Rizwan Sajan, Chairman & Founder, Danube Group, is a giant in Dubai’s realty industry. With the game-changing ‘1 Percent Plan’, he has reconstructed Dubai’s property sector; giving hope to millions wanting to own a property in Dubai. This revolutionary concept uncomplicates the buying process, giving people a chance at ownership in one of the world’s most glamorous cities – Dubai. Read on to know more about this realty maestro.
By Andrea CostaBir
Rizwan Sajan and Danube Properties are mammoth names to reckon with in the realty industry today. Could you briefly share the story behind your journey in the Dubai real estate market and how it led to your role at Danube Properties?
I started off my career at a very early stage in life. I was 16 and studying in college in Mumbai when my father’s untimely death forced me to take up a part-time job to manage day-to-day family expenses. My father’s colleagues then asked me to work with them – as they understood our family’s needs. I continued my college studies and then worked in my father’s office to make both ends meet.
Eventually, my uncle, who ran a building materials shop in Kuwait, extended a lifeline by offering me a job once I turned 18. I helped expand my uncle’s business and it flourished due to my efforts, and that is when I saw the quality of leadership in me. I made the right decision at the right time and handled sales very efficiently.
We had to leave Kuwait due to the Gulf War in 1991 and return to Mumbai. A few months later, I landed in Dubai to pursue my dream. By then, I realized that I was good at selling building materials and I had a natural talent for business.
In Dubai, I started scouting for a building materials supply business for a company that helped me to build contacts and relationships. By 1993, I had built a strong network to launch my own business. This is when Danube Building Materials was born in Dubai as a small building materials supply business with a retail outlet and an office to manage the supply. The rest is history – and today we are the largest supplier of building materials in the GCC.
We later added new verticals – real estate development, home furnishings, bathroom and kitchen fittings, joinery, aluminum composite panels etc, to name a few.
What distinguishes Danube Properties from other real estate developers in Dubai?
Our ground-breaking 1% payment plan makes us different from others. Danube Properties is the first and only developer to offer a 1% monthly payment plan. The implementation of the 1% plan resulted in an immediate and overwhelming success, attracting long queues of potential buyers. This is the outcome of our successful and proven relationship with banks. This innovative approach proved to be extremely beneficial for customers. Once the project achieves 60% completion, banks finance the remaining 40% of the property’s cost. This arrangement was designed to benefit customers, banks, and Danube alike. Moreover, it eliminated the need for customers to approach banks directly or endure lengthy approval processes and uncertain interest rates. The 1% plan represents the fundamental principle upon which Danube Properties was established.
What types of properties (residential, commercial) does Danube Properties specialize in?
Danube Properties specializes primarily in residential properties. We have a strong focus on creating affordable, high-quality homes for a diverse range of buyers. Our developments include a variety of housing options, ranging from apartments to villas, designed to cater to different preferences and needs within the residential sector. While our primary expertise lies in residential real estate, it’s worth noting that Danube Group, of which Danube Properties is a subsidiary, is involved in other sectors such as building materials, home furnishings and hospitality, but these are distinct from the real estate arm’s specialization in residential properties.
Can you highlight some of the notable projects developed by Danube Properties in Dubai?
We are the pioneers in the affordable luxury segment in Dubai’s real estate market. We launched ‘Fashionz’, a Fashion TV branded project, which stands as one of Danube’s most luxurious offerings. Recently, we introduced ‘Oceanz’, our largest project yet, situated on the Arabian Gulf coast. ‘Oceanz’ boasts Italian interiors and luxury furnishings by Tonino Lamborghini Casa. In total, we have unveiled 25 residential projects, including ‘Viewz’, ‘Elitz’, ‘Petalz’, ‘Miraclz’, and more.
How do you perceive the current state of the real estate market in Dubai? Are there any trends or challenges that you find particularly significant?
The current real estate market is marked by a dynamic interplay of trends and challenges. On one hand, the ongoing urbanization trend continues to drive demand for housing and commercial spaces, pushing property prices upwards in many urban areas. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of remote work, leading to a reevaluation of location preferences and a surge in demand for larger, more flexible living spaces.
However, in Dubai, we have learnt one great lesson and that is – to be able to identify opportunities amid challenges. Despite the odds, Dubai and the UAE have managed to extract benefits from regional and global challenges. Dubai managed to attract a large pool of international investors who came here as visitors, loved the infrastructure, quality of life, global connectivity, and the vibrancy and resilience of the UAE economy, and decided to open a branch of their business and bought a home. Some are relocating their entire business here due to safety, security, and the peace and ease of doing business.
How does Danube Properties adapt to UAE’s market fluctuations and changing customer preferences?
Danube Properties has come a long way in perfecting the art and science of developing homes with all the facilities, amenities and quality finishing, and delivering them on time and at affordable prices. We are determined to stay committed to our values and deliver projects on time. We are adopting innovative approaches to deal with odd situations and find out ways to prosper.
What are Danube Properties’ future plans for expansion or new projects in UAE/Dubai?
The future of Danube Properties holds a strong commitment to providing affordable luxury and exceptional Return on Investment (ROI) opportunities. With the recent launch of Oceanz, we are offering our buyers the assurance of a guaranteed 6% return on their investments. Like most others, it is priced with our unique and robust 1% payment plan underlining our dedication to delivering profitable outcomes for our customers. Our vision is to enable every potential buyer to own a home in Dubai, and to achieve this, we are dedicated to making luxury more accessible. Our innovative projects like Fashionz by Danube and FashionTV, introduced in April this year, exemplify our mission of bringing affordable luxury to the already glamorous city of Dubai. As branded residences continue to gain popularity worldwide for their unique appeal for discerning buyers, Danube Properties is poised to explore new directions and strategies to further solidify our position as a provider of high-quality, affordable luxury properties in Dubai.
As an industry insider, what exciting changes or developments do you foresee in Dubai’s real estate market in the next 5-10 years?
Dubai remains a robust destination for global real estate investment due to various factors such as world-class infrastructure and positive growth outlook. Despite experiencing significant growth in the last two years, the real estate market in Dubai is relatively one-third of the sky-rocketing prices in London, Singapore, Hong Kong, and to some extent, Mumbai. The prices of properties in Dubai are expected to continue rising rapidly, and the growing influx of high-net-worth investors and end-users from India and other parts of the world will further fuel the property market boom. Therefore, the Dubai real estate market continues to inspire confidence among property buyers, and now is the right time to invest to reap rich rewards.
The “Dubai Global” initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is expected to further boost investment in real estate and create more opportunities for businesses. This revolutionary step has already enhanced the competitiveness of the emirate’s economy, including the real estate sector.