Face to face: Raj Sahni, RSG International

Face to face: Raj Sahni, RSG International
Published: 12 October 2017 - 8:25 a.m.
By: Fatima De La Cerna

“I want to focus on Dubai. I’m happy working in one city, and I think I’m lucky here. I don’t want to shift my luck.”

Born and raised in Kuwait, RSG International’s chairman started investing in Dubai real estate in 1996, eventually relocating to the UAE in 2006.

Remarking that “things have been great” for him in Dubai, Sahni attributes his company’s success to his conservative way of doing business. “I’ve always been conservative – never too greedy – and I never took bank loans. I don’t sleep [much] during the night, so I just think of how to save, of how I’m going to buy or sell [a property].

“In the last five or six years, I’ve been in property development, so now I just concentrate on how I’ll be able to save on cost, how to deliver. I brainstorm at night.”

Sahni says that he applies the same conservative philosophy to his company’s development strategy. “RSG works differently [from other developers],” he explains. “It always has the [funds] ready to finish the project. It never builds to sell; it always builds to rent. That is the thought process [behind RGS’s ventures]. We have sold and will sell in the future, but the mindset is that of building on our own and leasing, [especially] if selling is not a strategic move for the project. That is our strategy.”

Building to rent is an emergent trend in the UAE market, he notes, adding: “Today, what are the other master developers doing? They are building to rent. What I was [already thinking] a couple of years ago, the master developers are doing [now]. Only some are selling, but [the others] are making their own portfolios, [which is a safe] bet because Dubai will never stop growing.”

Sahni says that his confidence in the city is unshakable, even though he acknowledges that the property market is witnessing saturation – particularly when it comes to high-end properties.

“There is an oversupply, but [Dubai] is not going to stop growing,” he states, sharing that as far back as 1990, when he was still in Kuwait, he was already hearing about economic crashes affecting the market. “But it always bounces back. Dubai is lucky. Dubai is a blessed city.”

Sahni’s confidence in Dubai’s ability to weather economic storms is reflected in RSG’s current portfolio of developments, both under construction and in the pipeline.

“We are not going to [stop building] because we have our own land bank and our own bank balances to build [the projects],” he notes. However, Sahni stresses that although it has the funds, RSG is not interested in taking on a “crazy” number of projects simultaneously. He prefers to focus on one project per year.

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