RAKEEN, the largest property developer in Ras Al Khaimah (UAE) has decided, along with huge investments in the UAE, to also invest in two large-scale property development projects in Georgia. REP spoke with Tengiz Bendukidze, Commercial Director of RAKEEN Development, LLC in Tbilisi, Georgia along with Mr. Yahia Kambris, Technical Director, at RAKEEN Development headquarters in Ras Al Khaimah.
By Connie Moser, Senior Editor
RAKEEN is building Uptown Tbilisi, the first A-class, mixed-use residential, office and retail facility. This will be the first international shopping center in the Caucus region. It is an investment of US $300 million. The shopping center will have 271 stores over 200,000 m², with parking for 2,610 cars.
"We are interested in emerging markets, and believe we can boost business with many new developments throughout Georgia," explained Bendukidze. "RAKEEN started operations in Tbilisi in 2006. We are developing different sectors in Georgia, one of which is real estate, there's a boom in the market."
Just another shopping center, you may think, however, there is a real need for good-quality facilities. "There are no A-class facilities in Georgia. At the present time a so-called 'shopping mall' is more like a bazaar, and features 'suitcase businesses.' These are set up by people who go abroad to purchase goods, then bring them back in their suitcases, and sell them on the market."
It would seem RAKEEN knows a good investment when they discover one. There is lots of interest, good demand, and a sizable market, with over 1.5 million people living in the catchment area.
"As people's preferences change, there is more travel, more interests, and in providing customers with products to fit those different preferences," Bendukidze commented.
"We will be differentiating by featuring licensed brands, and be competitive with our prices. We already have over 100 interested brands that are keen to come to our mall. RAKEEN has a lead-generating department working to attract brands, and we are in negotiations with a party representing a portfolio of over 90 brands."