Dar Al Arkan’s Sheikh Youssef Al Shelash on the Importance of Maintaining Business Commitments
Sheikh Yousef Al Shelash is the chairman of Dar Al Arkan, a leading real estate development company in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Middle East. He strives to ensure that the property development company he founded with five other families in December 1994 maintains transparency in its business dealings.
“Our challenge is not profit maximization, but rather how to maintain our business commitments and keep our projects on track,” stated Yousef Al Shelash. “As a result, cash flow management has been our key focus these last few years.” Over the past 27 years, Dar Al Arkan has remained dedicated to finishing its top-quality projects on time and within budget.
The company has been listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange since 2007. It is proud to set itself apart from the competition by utilizing technological advancements in its projects. Dar Al Arkan embraces 3D concrete printing and real estate digital portals.
“Whether it is a new home or a new property investment, every future homeowner or investor should enjoy a contemporary lifestyle that matches their aspirations and success, as well as develops and preserves their wealth for future generations,” states the real estate development company.
“With every project, from a single residential unit to a mega retail destination, Dar Al Arkan does not simply adhere to the global real estate guidelines. Instead, it puts expertise at the heart of it by continuously creating bespoke gold-standard principles for commercial, residential and mixed-use projects, on-time delivery, construction, and maintenance.”
Dar Al Arkan collaborates with world-renowned artists and architects to design and construct their Middle Eastern masterpieces. According to Yousef Al Shelash, the company currently operates in eight countries and has delivered 5,000 extraordinary units. In addition, for decades, the company has taken pride in offering high-quality real estate opportunities to better the lives of homeowners and investors.
Partnering with iconic design houses on co-branded properties is a smart business move for Yousef Al Shelash. He says that doing something like that “elevates the status or image of the company.[Because it shows that] Dar Al Arkan is trusted not only by its customers over the last 28 years but also by mega brands, so that expands our customer base.”
How so? “Now we are able to deal with economic classes from the mid-economic classes to the ultra-high net worth [sector].”
The property development company has partnered with iconic brands, including Missoni, Versace, Pagani, and Elie Saab. “Co-branding is reaching cars, planes, yachts, and real estate,” says Al Shelash. “Co-branding with luxury brands is a big real estate and hospitality trend.” Consider it to be the limited edition of real estate. That translates into high demand.
Earlier this year, Al Shelash attended the Missoni tower topping-off ceremony at the developer’s Urban Oasis residential 39-story building. The high-rise, which was designed in partnership with Italian design house Missoni, is located in the heart of downtown Dubai.
“The avant-garde design concept is brought to life through the instability of lines, a strong uneven approach, transparency, and hidden balances. At the top is one of the most incredible geometric spheres that defies gravity, a stunning one-of-a-kind experience,” stated the company. “The tower is a true geometric symphony of perfection composed of three basement levels, a ground floor, and 19 floors of residential masterpieces.”
In Saudi Arabia, the company’s Upside Living limited-edition luxury villas with Versace Home interiors are a part of the Shams Ar Riyadh development. “We could not be more proud to partner with a world-famous brand like Versace on this unique project.
To have a design house of such a high caliber create the interiors of these very special homes encapsulates the high level of luxury living we are striving for with Shams Ar Riyadh,” says Yousef Al Shelash. “At Dar Al Arkan, our ambition is to elevate the real estate market in Saudi Arabia. Our close relationship with leading international designers will help achieve this and cement the Kingdom’s growing reputation for outstanding architecture and design on a global scale.”
In addition to being the chairman of Dar Al Arkan, Al Shelash is also the chairman of Saudi Home Loans and the chairman of Alkhair Capital. “It is also worth noting that the company has a very solid asset base, which can be used as collateral to secure funding if any gap needs to be plugged,” he has stated.
From 2007 to 2009, national economies globally experienced a period of economic depression. “Despite the 2009 economic turmoil, the Saudi housing industry witnessed remarkable growth,” Al Shelash said. “[It] has become one of the fastest-growing housing industries in the Middle East. The industry’s growth is even more remarkable in light of the limited number of large developers who can address the growing demand for residential property.”
That has translated into big business for Dar Al Arkan. However, according to Al Shelash, the company has faced challenges in expanding its operations. The first is the dearth of construction financing for developing projects.
The second hurdle is the strict rules surrounding off-plan sales. “This forces [the company] to undertake relatively smaller projects as we cannot access presales funds during the construction period,” Al Shelsh stated in an Arabian Business article in 2012.
At that time, the company had recently finalized the construction of retail and residential assets that Al Shelash noted would provide the real estate development company “with fixed annual income. However, land sales will continue to provide the vast majority of our revenue for the foreseeable future.”
In that 2012 interview, Al Shelash stated, “Over the last five years, [the company] has developed a pipeline of projects and completed a large portfolio of finished projects. Together, these will continue to generate strong sales proceeds along with steady rental streams to support the company over the coming years.”
Yousef Al Shelash’s visions for the future have been accurate. The real estate company’s net profits increased by 312.6% year over year in the second quarter of 2022. “Yes, we are hard-core businesspeople, and the main driver of our business is to make money, but it is also to see that we build houses and apartments in which families are growing,” says the CEO.
“People are building families, and they live in a community. [The company sees that] as a noble target, bigger than just the commercial target of building houses and apartments and making money.”
Al Shelash adds, “I believe in this. The company is not only fulfilling a commercial target by generating for the shareholders that require the right of return, but because Dar Al Arkan is in real estate, it is also involved in building cities, communities, and families.”