From phone to homes

Everyone in the UAE has heard of Etisalat, though few know of its real estate division. Ahmed Al Jarwan, general manager of e-Real Estate explains how the company has grown since its inception two years ago.

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By  Holly Sands Published  January 11, 2009

Everyone in the UAE has heard of Etisalat, though few know of its real estate division. Ahmed Al Jarwan, general manager of e-Real Estate explains how the company has grown since its inception two years ago.

Etisalat has long been established in the UAE, and has perhaps become one of the most recognizable brands in the country by bringing telecommunication services, Internet access and cable television to the masses.

However, many people are not yet familiar with Etisalat's e-Real Estate division, which currently manages all the company's properties, enabling Etisalat to run all other operations as smoothly as possible.

This will allow Etisalat to accommodate growth of staff in the company without significant cost increases. In fact, we expect that through this optimization process, occupancy will be enhanced by almost 30%.

"Etisalat took the lead in developing intelligent buildings from day one, and we were proud to be the first developer of intelligent buildings in the UAE," says Dr Ahmed Al Jarwan, general manager of e-Real Estate. When Etisalat built its first head offices across the emirates, it placed emphasis on the importance of including new intelligent building technologies such as access control, CCTV, building management systems (BMS) and thermal insulation.

"It was during the design of the high-rise building projects, which is the Abu Dhabi head office building and the Dubai head office building. It was in 1986 and the building was completed in 1991. That technology wasn't used or widely spread at the time, and it was a first in the UAE and the region," he explains. Regional headquarters using the same principle soon followed in Sharjah, Al Ain, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.

Established almost two years ago to design, develop and manage intelligent offices, technical facilities and operation centres, e-Real Estate is primarily an in-house business, and has become responsible for Etisalat's leasing agreements for outside premises, as well as leases to telecom related third-parties. One of the division's main activities involves ensuring the space within each building is used as productively as possible.

"Space optimization is another activity that we handle, which aims to maximize existing space within Etisalat properties. [For example] At this stage we are using large workstations, and in future we intend to replace them with more efficient and flexible workstations in order to maximize space and at the same time maintain productive and comfortable work stations," explains Al Jarwan. By merely reducing the size of workstations, the company will be able to accommodate a much larger work group on each floor, which would seem a stroke of genius in an ever-growing company.

"This will allow Etisalat to accommodate growth of staff in the company without significant cost increases. In fact, we expect that through this optimization process, occupancy will be enhanced by almost 30%," he concludes.

New properties

Nevertheless, Al Jarwan notes space optimization alone will not be enough to cope with the scale of new staff and premises needed in response to growing demand from consumers.

"In the future, considering the ever increasing demand for Etisalat services and the associated staff required to serve our customers, we will inevitably develop new properties for Etisalat's use, as part of  the expansion of our real estate portfolio," says Al Jarwan.

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