Q Could you give us a brief overview of your personal background and how and why you came to do business in Ghana?
A: We are one of the biggest developers in Beirut, Lebanon, mainly with properties on the seafront of Beirut. I joined the family business in 2004. Prior to that, I worked for four years with a property management company called Operators that had branches in Beirut, Dubai and Qatar. I established the real estate agency in Operators. My main task was sales and we did a great job.
At the end of 2006, we had a major war in Lebanon so we took the decision to find some good investment outside of Lebanon while keeping all the projects ongoing in Beirut. Looking for outside opportunities, I went everywhere. I went to the US, Romania, Qatar, Dubai, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. My two options were Jedda in Saudi Arabia and Bucharest in Romania.
Then I met Hayssam Fakhry, our present partner, in Lebanon. He is a Ghanaian and he asked me to come and see the situation in Ghana. That was at the end of 2006 or probably the beginning of 2007. Until then I had never thought of Ghana. So I came here on his recommendation. Because of my real estate background and my studies (I did a Masters in the Urban Economic Development of Capital Cities in Boston), I saw the potential in Ghana. Companies were coming in, and airlines were increasing so fast. There was even a political side to it: the US and China were planting themselves in Ghana. So we decided to cancel the two other options and concentrate on Ghana.
We acquired three major plots in Accra. That was in 2007; some time before the announcement of the oil find in Ghana. So the reason wasn't because of the oil.
We acquired these plots in Accra because, even in Beirut, we like to concentrate and work in the capital but not outside. To find good locations, undeveloped locations, of course: that is our aim. And this is where Dream Realty was established, which is half-owned by my family business in Beirut, Jamil Ibrahim Estates, the other half being owned by the Fakhry family (who also own the Interplast factory in Ghana).
Q: If you had to explain Dream Realty in a few words, what would you say is its mission, and what are its main objectives at the moment?
A: We are developers. You see, when you buy a large piece of land in the capital, the location of that piece of land will tell what kind of development is to be made. Of the three projects we have in Accra, the first one is...