Firm aims to deliver ‘affordable luxury’ to Saudi youth

Sultan Batterjee said his company is concerned with not just developing properties but nurturing communities

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For Lifestyle Developers Ltd, the real estate business is all about raising standards of living in not just the Kingdom but across the region.

Sultan Batterjee, president and founder of Lifestyle Developers Ltd, said his company is concerned with not just developing properties but nurturing communities.

“The projects that we do comprise of four core elements: design, quality, credibility and community. Every project that we do must have these elements.

Our project would not be complete without them,” said Batterjee. Lifestyle Developers Ltd is about offering young people in the Kingdom, especially those who have lived abroad, a property situated in a community that they feel a part of and which they can relate to.

“Our company is aimed at young people who are middle class and who consist of 70 percent of the Kingdom’s population.

They are aged between 18 and 30,” he said, adding that they are a major contributor to the Kingdom’s economy and a burgeoning community in not just Saudi Arabia but across the Middle East.

“We want to offer this segment of the population a complete lifestyle. They should have good jobs and homes where they feel inspired,” said Batterjee.

“We are in the business of affordable luxury. This is us and that’s what we do. We have seen that the major contributors to the economy are professionals, engineers and doctors.

They are all professionals but not millionaires. They are people who receive well paid salaries but don’t have millions in their accounts,” he said.

Beautiful designs are at the heart of Batterjee’s business. “Community is the fourth core element. All of our projects have a sense of community.

Lifestyle Developers Ltd does things for the community. We take pieces of land and develop them into parks, just like the project that we did this year for the Jeddah Municipality,” he said.

“Another aspect of the company’s work involves developing amenities … all of our projects have gyms, libraries, and gardens both inside and outside.

We want to attract people and transform their mindsets from one of renting to one of owning.

It is extremely important for young people to have a sense of belonging to the community by owning a property that they feel they belong to,” he added.

“This is why we did this and we want to complete that cycle. We want to capture the population that lived and grew up abroad, those who went on scholarships and are returning back. They are used to a certain style of living,” he said.

“They are unable to find something that they can relate to. And so we lose these minds, these brains that they government and their families have spent huge sums of money on.

When they come back, they are unable to find something that they can relate to and they may even head off somewhere else,” he added.

“I’m not only talking about Saudi Arabia, I’m talking about the whole region. That’s why you find people from different Arab countries not living in their countries of origin,” he said.

Batterjee feels these individuals are the best minds and have the best brains. “They are not necessarily the richest people but they are major contributors to the economy.

This is the segment we are targeting. We want to change people’s mindsets from wanting to buy a villa to wanting to own an apartment,” he said.

Lifestyle Developers Ltd participated this year in Cityscape Jeddah 2015, an exhibition that brought together real estate industry leaders.

The company took the exhibition as an opportunity to launch its new flagship project Diar Al-Salam (Homes of Peace).

“We have shown that we can develop homes and apartments. Now we intend to move to the phase of building communities… we have chosen the simple dove, a symbol of peace, as our emblem.

This dove will be in all our projects and where ever you go you will find it. It will be in paintings, in designs and in elevators.

We intend to build communities. The Diar Al-Salam project consists of 114 apartments of different sizes from one bedroom apartments to five bedrooms penthouses with swimming pools,” he said.

Ewaan CEO Riyad Al Thagafi also believes that they are building a community not only property, but they are worried that new regulation might effect negatively on the housing market.

“We are celebrating end of Al Farida first phase, which contains 330 units, and hopefully by the end of the year we will hand over 1,000 units in Al Farida to our clients.

“We are launching our new project in Riyadh — a project of 320 villas in north of Riyadh, and we are planning to launch another new project in Jeddah — attached to Al Farida — called Al Mayar. It will contain 200 buildings with approximately 2,000 apartment,” said Al Thagafi.

Al Thagafi added that the new regulations would effect negatively on the real estate market, though he said Ewaan is planning and finishing their projects judiciously before launching new ones.

“We can see there’s a new regulations coming to the market a 30 percent tax on barren lands. Though we see that this new rule would affect the market, it will, however, not bring about instability in the real estate market especially in housing,” he said.

“You can see right now that everyone is waiting and watching, the investor, customer and the developers, who do not want to launch any new product, for they are not sure how this new regulation might affect the market, even increase the price,” he said.

Al Thagafi hopes if there will be any rule changes, they should be more toward encouraging the developers to build more.

“What we are worried is that the regulator sometimes tries to protect the consumer by overregulating the industry, and forgets incentives to attract the investor.

We hope that the regulator brings about a balance between protecting the consumer while attracting and encouraging the investor to invest more,” he said.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 11, 2015.

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