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In conversation with Turab Saleem: Steering hospitality and real estate in Saudi Arabia's golden era

Article-In conversation with Turab Saleem: Steering hospitality and real estate in Saudi Arabia's golden era

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Turab Saleem, Partner and Head of Hospitality, Tourism & Leisure Advisory at Knight Frank Jeddah, shares expert insights on the burgeoning real estate industry in Saudi Arabia, the challenges professionals face, and the transformative impact of Vision 2030.

Can you share your insights on the current state of the real estate industry in Saudi Arabia and its growth potential?

The current era could be described as the Golden Era for real estate in KSA. The coming ten years are likely to be the best yet.  The stage is set for a property boom: an overall shortage of housing, a young population looking to fulfil upcoming needs, government support pouring into property development, easy access to funds, and changes in rules allowing foreigners to invest.  All these factors contribute towards a very bright future. 

How important is market research and analysis when it comes to identifying lucrative real estate opportunities in Saudi Arabia?

Market research and analysis are key.  It can make the difference between success and failure. I have seen many projects struggle due to lack of research. You have to identify what the marketing is looking for, what the market is willing to pay, the correct price point for the right product, the amenities and support services required for certain target markets, upcoming trends, and factor in sustainability.  

What are the major challenges faced by real estate professionals in Saudi Arabia, and how can they be overcome? 

You must know the local trends, local rules and regulations, local culture, and likes and dislikes.  You also need to understand where this destination stands against the landscape of global trends. Are certain trends too early for this market?  Or is the market ripe to experiment with certain new trends? KSA is moving at lightspeed to catch up with more matured markets in the region.  They don’t shy away from experimenting with new methods and technologies. 

From a B2B perspective, how crucial is building and maintaining strong relationships with developers, investors, and other industry stakeholders?

It is the key to success. One must know how to connect to these key stakeholders, as if they are putting together the pieces in a puzzle.  At present, there are not many players who understand this skill as the market is relatively young. 

What are the essential steps involved in creating a solid business plan for a real estate venture in Saudi Arabia?

Developing the right product for the right market requires proper homework and solid research, supported by experienced, qualified, high-quality talent. The right positioning, budgeting and marketing (which is often not considered important) will differentiate you and give you the edge. 

Can you shed light on the impact of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 on the real estate industry and the opportunities it presents?

All mega and giga projects are initiated by the government under the 2030 Vision to expedite the initial set up of infrastructure and other relevant tools to make it easy for investors to follow. Vision 2030 is also creating global marketing for all these projects to ensure demand is generated before projects are delivered to the market. It is a great strategy to help the developments reach their potential. 

Can you share some valuable lessons or success stories from your own real estate career in Saudi Arabia?

As this is a new market, delivering successful projects has many challenges including hiring the right talent, procurement, logistics, and handling projects of such magnitude. Delivering unique mega projects is tough, it requires a rare talent. I have witnessed many great planners but there are very few that can also deliver, which is ultimately what matters.

What attracted you to the real estate industry in Saudi Arabia?

Unique projects, the mega vision, and the commitment to achieve this vision drew me to KSA. There is nothing more exciting then being part of these great projects, seeing the plans unfold and then witnessing the realization of these amazing projects.  How often do you get the chance to do this?!  Where else in the world do you get these kinds of opportunities?!

In your opinion, what makes Saudi Arabia an attractive destination for real estate professionals looking to build a successful career?

Great vision, great ambitions supported by great resources.  You get to experiment and take things to new heights. Let’s be part of this unique experience. 


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