The Dubai skyline is scattered with some of the world’s tallest and most striking skyscrapers. Among them is the iconic twisted Cayan Tower in Dubai Marina, a 307-metre, 80-storey residential high-rise that turns 90 degrees over the course of its height. Completed in June 2013, the US$272 million structure took seven years to build, following a series of delays. Nevertheless, it was worth the wait: Cayan Tower has since won international plaudits and several awards for its remarkable, original design, which cleverly reduces wind forces on the tower.
The business behind the building is Cayan Group, one of the Middle East’s leading real estate developers. “At its most basic, property development builds homes and environments. But on a higher level, it enables communities and environments that bring people together, creating beauty and art across a landscape,” says Cayan Group General Manager Guy Alan Sadler. “It even results in iconic developments that inspire entire countries – from Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and Cayan Tower, to London’s Big Ben, Paris’ Eiffel Tower and Australia’s Sydney Harbour Bridge.”
Guy has more than two decades’ of international experience within blue chip organisations, predominantly within the real estate and banking sectors. Real estate is an area he has always been exposed to, and one he is passionate about. “I came to the United Arab Emirates in 2003, and I saw the exciting transformation that was taking place in the real estate space here. At first I thought I’d missed out on the boom but then, in 2006, a landmark law change in Abu Dhabi opened up its real estate market,” he says. Here, he joined a private development group and spent 10 years working on a wide range of small to large projects in the UAE capital, before returning to Dubai to continue his career with Cayan as General Manager.
“It’s impossible for me to walk into a room and not think about how I could change it, improve it, or redesign it: it’s in my DNA.”
Instead of looking for things to change, however, Guy sat back and observed the processes and culture of the company. “I quickly realised that I didn’t need to fix what wasn’t broken. The Cayanian culture is an unusual blend of the feeling of family and belonging, while still being a corporate environment. There’s no selfishness, everyone is confident in sharing their ideas and we are all working towards our greater shared goal,” he remarks. “I’m most inspired by these people – who realise that corporate success isn’t just in the balance sheet, but in our reputation, longevity, values and work ethic.”
With strong Saudi Arabian roots, the Group has a tight-knit corporate culture that is focused on teamwork and making a difference. Guy says the company’s achievement lies in its creativity, innovation and commitment to distinction. “Our dual headquarters in Saudi Arabia and Dubai give us the freedom to be selective about the projects we pursue. We focus on building unique projects that will create the best positive returns for owners and make the biggest difference to the community. We build beautiful buildings that are wonderful to look at, live in and be part of, and that evoke a strong emotional response from owners, investors and the people experiencing them. This stems all the way down
from our visionary leader and CEO Ahmed Alhatti.”
Cayan Group is determined to work towards Saudi’s Vision 2030, a core part of which is the development of local talent. To address this concern, Cayan Group is formulating a new strategy to attract, train and retain the best workers by investing in employee skills development, creating alliances with relevant institutions, and offering internships to recent graduates.
Established in 2004, Cayan Group spreads its assets across six core verticals: Real Estate Development, Brokerage, Asset Management and Investments, Community Management, Hospitality, and its corporate responsibility initiatives via the Cayan Foundation. In conjunction with Rotana Hotel Management, the company is currently building its first hospitality project in the Middle East, Cayan Cantara – a US$272 million, two-tower development in Dubai’s Umm Suqeim Road that’s expected to be completed early next year. “The idea of this deluxe development is for owners and residents to experience a completely new level of service than they’d normally expect from a residential or hotel service apartment building in this location or price range – this is affordable luxury at its very best,” explains Guy.
Cayan’s philosophy of ‘no compromise’ means it takes responsibility for all aspects of a project, with the intention of creating an icon within the community. “As an emerging real estate market, the Middle East is seeing a lot of core global best practice principles being introduced as the regulatory framework becomes stronger. It’s important for us to stay ahead of the curve,” says Guy. “This means being honest, flexible, transparent and trustworthy when it comes to our dealings with clients and customers.”
He continues, explaining how Cayan is always looking at how it can incorporate emerging technologies into its unique service offering not only to lower costs, but to enhance design and usability, and encourage customer engagement. “Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, we’ve also been looking at blockchain technology to enhance transparency, online safety, speed of transactions, and our ability to work with different currencies – even cryptocurrencies – online,” he says.
In the long term, Cayan Group is looking to expand its international market penetration across Saudi Arabia and even Europe. “While doing our due diligence, we like the idea of spreading our risk across multiple jurisdictions to shelter the company from any significant fluctuation periods,” explains Guy. “Real estate is all about the long-term and we want to grow organically, not aggressively. We’re bringing people together, we’re creating cultures, we’re building beautiful communities – and we’re here to stay.”
“Real estate is all about the long-term and we want to grow organically, not aggressively.”