Welcome to the Awards International Podcast.

This series will keep you up to date with our programmes, events, and best practices from the Gulf region, featuring guests who have taken part in our programmes over the years. These include Winners, Finalists, and Judges as well as some special guests along the way.

For more information please visit awardsinternational.ae 

Todays guest is Mahmoud Hesham El Burai, Managing Director of the Dubai Real Estate Institute.

In addition to his government position in Dubai, Mahmoud has been the Vice President of the International Real Estate Federation, FIABCI UK, since January 2011 and sits on the Board of the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO), the International Real Estate Society (IRES), and the Middle East North Africa Real Estate Society (MENARES).

Mahmoud has served as the FIABCI representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for West Asia (UNESCWA) since January 2012. Recently, Mahmoud was selected to be the only member from the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region on the United Nations Global Compact/RICS steering committee mandated to apply Global Compact Principles to the real estate industry.

Prior to his Managing Director role with the Dubai Real Estate Institute, Mahmoud worked for three years as the Senior Director of Real Estate Sector Development at the Real Estate Regulatory Authority of Dubai and also worked as a Development Associate Manager at Dubai Holding.

Mahmoud completed his Bachelor’s degree in engineering at the American University before continuing on to earn his Master’s degree in Real Estate from the National University of Singapore. Mahmoud completed his MBA in Finance from his alma mater, the American University of Dubai, in 2010. In January 2014, Mahmoud was selected to join the Sheikh Mohamad Bin Rashid Leadership Program, which is designed to train top government decision makers.

Please sit back and enjoy the fantastic insights of Mr Mahmoud El Burai.

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role within the Dubai Real Estate Institute?

I am the CEO of Dubai Real Estate Institute, which is the capacity building arm of Dubai Land Department. I have been working with Dubai Land Department since 2008. In addition to working within Dubai Land Department I work closely with the United Nations on sustainability and global compact issues, world bank, IMF, and where they can make reform. We lead the international relations when it comes to real estate for Dubai.

  1. What are the main objectives of the Dubai land department?

Dubai Land Department was formed in 1961 by a decree from His Highness Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the father of the current ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed. The main objective at that time was to protect peoples’ rights when it comes to property ownership.

We have carried this onwards and taken that to the next level by making Dubai Land Department a global organisation in terms of structure, functionality, and adding more functions to the entity. At the end of the day, what we started with in 1961, to protect people’s rights, is the same as what we are trying to do today.

What we have added in the last decade is how we become part of promoting Dubai to international investors; how we make the enabling of our environment that will attract real estate investment to the city.

Dubai Land Department has different entities. One of them is the registration entity, where people come and register their title deeds, ownership, etc. The second is RERA which is the Real Estate Regulatory Agency, that takes care of all regulations when it comes to development, licensing, projects, etc.

Then you have the Dubai Real Estate Institute, which takes care of capacity building and training people. The Investment Promotion office, which takes care of investment promotion in Dubai. Finally the Rental Disputes arm, which takes care of issues and disputes between landlords and tenants. The Land Department is a fully-fledged entity which provides 360 degrees of service related to the real estate industry.

  1. What exciting programmes do you have coming up at the Dubai Real Estate Institute?

There are so many programmes that we have started here in the institute. This year what is interesting is that we have three new programmes coming from world class universities. We will soon have a course coming from Harvard University on the future of cities and how we will imagine communities that we want to live in. This is one of the most interesting programmes we will be offering from November. This is part of Dubai’s vision to be the smartest city on earth. How will we become the smartest city on earth? We will invest in our infrastructure and, of course, our people who will change our infrastructure.

We also have a course with MIT which is about technology and how technology will change the urban thinker. In addition to that we have our flagship programmes. The Certified International Property Specialist.

This is a programme given to experts within the industry where we connect them internationally. Graduates will be linked to the international organisation NAR which is the largest international organisation when it comes to real estate and international members.

When it comes to the Dubai Real Estate Institute we have many thinkers, compasses, and forum sessions. We have just finished the Dubai Real Estate Think Tank. We brought around 100 top international stakeholders from around the world and sat them around one table to discuss the future of the industry and what we could do. A lot of ideas came up in that meeting which we will be taking into implementation.

What we are doing right now is elevating the standards in this industry. We have been working on infrastructure when it comes to implementation and legality but we are also working on capacity building and deepening the human capital of the city.

Obviously the Awards is something big that we think by partnering with Awards International will change a lot, not only in Dubai but within the whole region. This is a programme that will take some time from us in the coming few months but we are so excited by it.

  1. Last year you partnered with Awards International to launch the Gulf Real Estate Awards. How do the Awards fit within the objectives of the Land Department?

The Awards is a great platform that the Land Department can use and always mention. We have the carrot and we have the stick. We have been doing a lot of regulation, pushing people to comply ,and so on. It is now time to shift the framework and think more towards a carrot-led approach, by rewarding the best practices in the market.

If you see best practice in the market then you have to tell them “Thank you for making Dubai a great city”. This applies also to the GCC, as it is a Gulf award. We share the same objective of awarding best practice, but we also want other companies to learn from these best practices. A lot of best practice is hidden, so through this programme we give them visibility.

The spill down impact of the programme on other companies within the industry is huge. Everyone is competing and the competition will create quality, that is our aim. We aim towards quality, sharing best practice, and elevating the standard. Not only here in Dubai but in the whole region of the GCC.

Other than this it can help consumers and investors to make the right decisions which will help them invest. These are the best among hundreds and thousands. These winners have the best practices giving more transparency to the consumer on who is doing well in the market. The question from consumers is always who is doing well, what do you know about that company, should we invest there? So now people can get an idea of where the best practices are.

  1. With the second edition of the Gulf Real Estate Awards now open for entries, why should organisations considering entering?

These are the only awards in the region that are government-supported and government-sponsored. That gives a lot of credibility. A lot of awards in the region lose that credibility. People know that they are driven commercially, rather than inspired by the love of change and best practice. Our awards…I say our awards, because we are proud of our success last year and we want to build on that. We are inspired by the vision of improving the quality and neutrality. The awards are very professional in terms of the judges we choose through criteria, selection, and professionalism.

I guarantee to people that these award are 100 percent accurate in terms of the result. There are no commercial motives behind it. That is what distinguishes us.

The second thing about the awards is the variety in the categories. If you look at the 20 or so categories of the awards, they cover all stakeholders in the industry. From developers to brokers, property managers, financing institutes, legal companies, and so on. It is comprehensive and at the same time connected to the country’s vision of being smart, sustainable, and happy. These categories you don’t see in other awards. It is linked to the strategy of equality and professionalism.

The third thing is the sharing of knowledge. We have been doing a lot of sharing. The awards do not finish on the day of the finals and ceremony – it continues. We show people why they win, the best practices, and so forth. It is a platform for sharing knowledge and information.

These three things, and I’m sure there are many more, but these are the main ones that put us at the top. This year we already have so many interested entities, not just from the UAE, but from others in the region. 

  1. We keep touching on the Gulf as a greater region, what trends are you seeing in the real esate sector here in the Gulf?

First of all, is the trend of regulation, which is really giving us great hope that other countries in the GCC will be picking up and doing similar things to Dubai. We have been seeing movement towards regulation in Saudi, Bahrain, and Kuwait. This really gives hope that real estate industries in these countries will mature and be regulated similarly to Dubai in terms of regulatory framework.

That means that only quality companies will be allowed to function and operate, which is a great hope for this region. Seeing trends of quality in terms of companies, products, and delivery.

Another trend we see is the huge gap in affordability. That is why we put affordable housing as a category in the awards. The region has issues with affordable housing and by building on this award, if we manage to incentivize the private sector, along with the government and other institutes to lead affordable housing projects in the region, that will be something big.

Other trends that we see is the technology impact on real estate. We see more movement towards smart cities in other GCC countries, people addicted to technology and using applications. We are seeing a lot of mergers in real estate companies, which is creating a lot more strength. We see many trends of professionalism and capacity building programmes. A lot of work on elevating the standard. The whole region is going through an exceptional transformation period which is something good for the real estate industry.

  1. To finish up, what advice would you give to organisations considering entering the Gulf Real Estate Awards?

My advice would be share your success story with people. You will learn, they will learn, and the industry will develop. It is the right time for those who have successful projects to go and enroll. For those who haven’t done something exceptional yet, it is the right time to start working on a strong application for the years to come.

These awards are going to be THE awards, that will for companies, be great, in terms of visibility, and giving consumers more confidence and trust. At the same time, it is going to be the awards that will change the industry of real estate here in the GCC. Winning such a prestigious award for you as a company will be a great honour and the impact will be shown in your performance within the market.

There are so many players in the market here in the GCC and this will distinguish you from others. You will get the opportunity to reach your customers in a very professional way, rather than calling and annoying your customers. I call on all real estate companies in the GCC to join these awards and show us their success and share it with everyone.

Mahmoud El Burai, ladies and gentlemen. If you would like some more information on the Gulf Real Estate Awards then please go to www.gulfrealestateawards.com. Entries are now open for the second edition which promises to be another incredible event in association with the Dubai Land Department and Dubai Real Estate Institute. As always, if you would like more information on Awards International and what we do please visit. www.awardsinternational.ae.

Thank you very much for listening and until the next time, goodbye.