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Banks have to be responsible about lending, says Al Habtoor

The chairman of conglomerate Al Habtoor Group has said banks have to be responsible when it comes to lending in the UAE, particularly in relation to mortgages.

Khalaf Al Habtoor met with senior management from Emirates NBD this week, including CEO Shayne Nelson, and discussed the growing economy in Dubai and the increased infrastructure projects underway during their meeting.

Following the meeting, Al Habtoor cautioned against irresponsible lending by financial institutions and welcomed stringent requirements that are currently imposed by the Central Bank of UAE to ensure responsible lending.

Speaking to Arabian Business at Cityscape this week, Al Habtoor said banks must also assess whether a client has the ability to repay a loan or mortgage.

“I think the banks have to be very careful, not to lend unless [it’s responsible],” Al Habtoor said.

“The feasibility study for any project is [normally] done by the four or five big companies in the world, and they should undertake …  to tell the truth and be responsible. The bank also has to be responsible when they lend to people for new project in case of any default. Therefore they have to be very careful.”

Al Habtoor Group launched sales for its  Residence Collection, Al Habtoor City in March this year and despite sales being “slow”, Al Habtoor said the company has no plans to sell any apartments at lower prices to attract more sales.

“We are not like any other property developer. We have the most important and iconic site. You cannot compare our site to any other site in Dubai. It's different, it's in the heart of Dubai and the canal. It's the only property that has nothing to block the views, 360 degrees,” he said.

“We don't [believe] in selling off plan before you can view it. We are completing the tower and now it is maybe 40-50 floors or more, maybe 55 floors. We want to show people the quality we are building, not only the finishing but the quality of construction and the quality of material we are going to use in the finishing. This is the difference.

“We have no rush to sell; we don't want to sell cheap. We are thinking of increasing the price in the coming months. Even though it's slow right now, we are selling at the price dictated by ourselves.”

The Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club in Dubailand, which is due to open in December this year, was also on show at Cityscape.

“It's doing very well as far as construction is concerned. We didn't launch it yet; the first time we are launching [sales] is today,” said Al Habtoor.

“You will live in heaven there. Everything is there. You will enjoy all the facilities there.  If I don't have a big family I'm going to move there. I'm thinking of moving into one of the villas there because I love it.”

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