Ekaruna What is your role at Waterfront City? Could you talk me through the typical process behind your work on this project? Samer Bsat In my current role, I am Senior Development Director for Waterfront City. This entails managing the Waterfront City portfolio and teams, from product development to sales and marketing. In addition to that, I am the official spokesperson for the project and a member of the Waterfront City Cares Jury, the projects’ corporate social responsibility initiative.
Ekaruna What are the most unique features of Waterfront City? Samer Bsat Waterfront City is a unique concept, offering a distinctive lifestyle in an exquisite location, the first of its kind in Lebanon.
A community in Lebanon on Dbayeh’s seaside, Waterfront City will bring people together in a single living environment designed for the future needs of both residents and visitors.
The project seeks to connect people with their surroundings to create lasting bonds that promote community living, offering multiple benefits in line with the needs and interests of the people who live there.
EKARUNA CATCHES UP WITH WATERFRONT CITY’S SENIOR DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR SAMER BSAT, FOR AN EXCLUSIVE ON THE PROJECT AND HIS OUTLOOK ON THE LEBANESE REAL ESTATE MARKET.
Waterfront City provides many offerings in one location: modern contemporary living with more than 2000 apartments that caters to every customer needs and aspirations, the bustling business hub with a state-of-the-art, first of its kind Business Park, attraction opportunities for shopping, leisure and fun namely through hotels, health clubs, parks and many other facilities. Ultimately, by building Waterfront City, we aim to reinforce Lebanon as a creative and economic hub within the region and create a community that people would be proud to call their home. Ekaruna Can you talk me through the phases of the project? What has been completed so far? Samer Bsat Noting the scale of the project, we decided to launch it in phases to stay in line with the receptivity and demand of the market. The project has already begun to take shape and you will witness the various phases unfolding in the upcoming years. With the delivery date approaching, there is a lengthy team working around the clock to ensure that construction timelines are met while adhering to top standards.
Despite the difficult times the country may be facing, we aim to show our dedication to building the city and bringing it to life because we believe in Lebanon and its resilience.
Ekaruna Do you envisage more projects of the like to take form in Lebanon in the next few years? Samer Bsat In recent years we have witnessed a trend for projects offering more than a simple living space, be it entertainment and shopping offerings, green areas and so on.
For the future, I do believe that developers will aim to provide their residents with as much facilities and comfort as they can because that is what clients are demanding today.
Ekaruna Recently, there has been a large demand for environmentally friendly and socially sustainable developments and projects. How is Waterfront City catering to those concerns? Samer Bsat Waterfront City is planned and built to promote sustainable living for future generations, be it through adopting sustainable laws, implementing sustainable processes or introducing sustainable amenities, all aimed at building a better tomorrow.
The project strives to foster sustainable community living where residents, their visitors and their surroundings come together in one place with the objective of creating harmonious, uplifting and safe neighborhoods.
In terms of sustainability, the efforts can be broken down into three main pillars:
- In regards to pioneering standards, Environmental Sustainability is surely at the core of Waterfront City. The residential buildings are based on BREAM standards, as for the Master plan, Business Park and shopping mall; they are being built according to the LEED ND and the LEED silver respectively. - As for prosperous communities, Waterfront City aims at positively influencing the community by offering international training opportunities to its employees as for them to be better equipped to negotiate with suppliers in order to adopt environmentally friendly and green criteria in their final deliveries, as well as channel their learning to their teams. - In regards to high performance assets, using green methods in construction is key, allowing saving on energy and water, leaving a green sustainable legacy to our community. Beyond that, a recycling system will be put in place to further make Waterfront City a green sustainable living community, as well as help educating on preserving this community for future generations.
Beyond that, Waterfront City has taken their commitment one step further and launched “Waterfront City Cares” - the Corporate Social Responsibility initiative of the project. The Initiative stipulates that with each of the residential units sold, 1,000 USD will be pooled into a fund whereby grants will be awarded to Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who present proposals that fall under five main pillars: environmental sustainability, women empowerment, education, healthy heart, health and safety and road safety.
To date, 10 projects across the various pillars have received grants and initiated their project with the support and collaboration of Waterfront City Cares.
Ekaruna What do prospective buyers need to know when purchasing this type of property? Samer Bsat Generally speaking, buyers need to know the location of the apartment, the size and respective cost as well as the additional facilities and benefits.
In terms of Waterfront City, what we aim to communicate beyond that is that a home is more than just a residence; it is a unique living experience. What we are offerings is one city with an endless list of choices; 250,000 square meters including residences, offices, hotels as well as entertainment and public areas. Ekaruna What is your overall approach to the real estate market today? Samer Bsat In today’s market, people have become more aware of what they are purchasing. They want to make sure that all their demands and needs are catered to for the price that they are paying. Having said that, our approach is to always be aware of the demands of the market and ensure what we are offerings fits that need. For example, as per the recent trend, people were
interested in smaller size apartments. Accordingly, we adhered to the demands launching new smaller and more affordable units, and had an impressive amount of sales in a single month. Waterfront City offers a substantial investment to the Lebanese economy in terms of both USD spent and job creation. Having said that, we believe that positivity is contagious, and with our belief in a brighter future we aim to be just the start of an optimistic change.
The real estate sector has proven to be the most resilient even through the times of turmoil the country was facing. With a positive outlook forward the sector will remain strong and will continue to be the main driver of the Lebanese economy. Ekaruna What are the advantages to owning this type of property? Are there any disadvantages? Samer Bsat A home at Waterfront City is more than just a residence. Our community will offer multiple benefits, in line with the needs and interests of the people who live there. Community hubs are easily accessible and offer a mix of shopping facilities and services that cater to the needs of residents and visitors. Campus-designed business parks increase the diversity and attractiveness, as well as Promenades and town squares creating spaces for people to connect, meet and establish a sense of belonging. Additionally, Waterfront City will provide easily accessible well-designed areas to stimulate community integration and encourage social events and interaction, promoting a neighbourly spirit.
Ekaruna What is the nature (i.e.: labour availability, bureaucratic government policy…) of the constraints that waterfront City is facing? Samer Bsat Our contractors have relayed that as a result of the ongoing crisis related the regional turmoil, labour and craftsmanship availability that have all been a constraint to deal with. One could conclude that Lebanon’s reliance on Syrian labour in construction has been coming under test since the advent of turmoil next door, and more seriously in recent months. Moreover, the bureaucracy in permitting is still a factor that developers suffer from, today more than ever.
Ekaruna In view of the current situation in Lebanon and the region, has there been any change in the timeframe to sell or lease the entirety of the project? Samer Bsat As previously noted, we are launching the project in phases to stay in line with the absorption of the market. To date, we have been moving according to the master plan and are pleased to have successfully launched three phases. Surely, along the way changes have been made to accommodate the needs and demands of the market, such as the smaller apartments that we discussed earlier. Moving forward we will continue to listen to the market to ensure that the products we are offering are, in fact, what clients are demanding today.
As for the impact of the current situation, Majid Al Futtaim Properties and Joseph G. Khoury et Fils have always believed in the resilience of Lebanon. They believe that positivity is contagious, and it is with that notion that we are building this new city of endless choices. Ekaruna In your opinion, what are Lebanon’s Real Estate strengths? Samer Bsat The scarcity of land and decent real estate offerings in Lebanon still places the country’s real estate in very good light. Ekaruna If you were to compare the regional’s real estate market with Lebanon’s, what would your thoughts be? Samer Bsat Stable and promising on the medium to long-term outlook.
Ekaruna Do you think there is a genuine interest in acquiring property in today’s market or is it simply a matter of speculation? Samer Bsat There is surely a genuine interest, which will always be the case in the property market. You have couples getting married, people moving back home, families who have been renting who decide to purchase and simply those who want to invest.
The question here is what interests these buyers? In today’s market the average buyer is looking for the most added value with the investment being placed. As such, the demand is directed towards developers and projects that are going that extra mile with amenities, offerings and an overall lifestyle.
As long as the right product is being offered, there will be a demand.
“THE SCARCITY OF LAND AND DECENT REAL ESTATE OFFERINGS IN LEBANON PLACES THE COUNTRY’S REAL ESTATE IN VERY GOOD LIGHT. ”