You have worked in the real estate market for over 16 years and have held C-suite positions at several key industry players including Elysian Real Estate, MD Properties Group, and currently Berkshire Hathaway. Looking back, what would you say has been the greatest change to the MENA real estate market in the last decade?
I have had the privilege to be a part of this market since 2005 and I have witnessed many changes both as a result of growth and challenges throughout these past years.
Dubai, however, has seen more progress and gained ever more international attention than any other country because of the way the government managed the pandemic, keeping both public safety and economic wellbeing in mind.
Dubai has played an instrumental role in influencing the MENA region by setting high standards and proving that nothing is impossible. It has shown that by having the right strategy, vision and leadership in place you can certainly achieve outstanding results. Today, as proof of that we have a far more diversified and resilient economy.
What key challenges do you predict the real estate industry in Dubai will face over the next five years? What opportunities are emerging for investors currently?
The main challenge is the aftermath of the pandemic. We saw the economy navigating through it just fine, but unlike the real estate sector, some sectors are still finding it hard to recover. There is no blanket approach, which will of course affect the overall state of the economy. Inflation will also force governments to increase interest rates, which could influence supply and demand.
Looking at Dubai in particular, the forecast looks very positive, and the indexes are rising month on month. The changes that have been introduced and adapted during the previous period, I predict, will continue to have a positive effect, and attract more foreign investment and interest to the country.
Dounia speaking in a pannel discussion at Cityscape Intelligence Talks at Cityscape Global, Dubai 2021.
You lead a diverse and international team of real estate professionals. How would you describe your management style?
I’m a very caring person by nature and I care a lot about my team - my primary goal is to motivate them and guide them towards success.
I started my career as a property consultant so I know the job inside out and can always relate to each one of them. I love to see my team win and achieve great results. We work together, we collaborate, and we guide each other towards the same goal of achieving great results together.
As well as being a high-powered businesswoman, you are also a wife and mother of two. How do you manage your time between your personal and professional lives?
I won’t lie, it is not easy at all! It takes lots of planning, worrying, and juggling … you could say I’m a pretty qualified juggler by now!
I have three kids, my eldest is 12 years old and youngest is six months old. When I look back on how I did it (and am still doing it!) I would say that discipline and determination definitely played a big role in making things happen, as well as having a strong will to succeed and make a difference.
What would your advice be to women who are looking to enter the real estate space, change-up, or upgrade their careers?
I would say go for it! Be confident and courageous and most importantly believe in yourself. Women tend to be hard on themselves which blocks them from reaching their true potential.
Looking to the future, where do you see the greatest opportunities for women in the real estate industry? What do you hope to see more of?
We have come a long way and we are seeing more and more women in real estate, which is a great sign.
However, we are still representing a minority when it comes to women occupying leadership roles, so in future, I really hope to see more women in decision making roles because we certainly make great leaders.