In addition, four other smaller projects in Ajman were mothballed. " The banks started to look askance at real estate and the residential construction market came under pressure." This has been a tricky time for LRED, but Zubaidi is willing to predict that by the time Ramadan comes to an end towards the end of 2010, the worst will be over. Confidence will return and Mangrove Place, which has already risen to the sixth of its 29 storeys, will be well on its way to structural completion and halfway through the finishing stages. The economy was the main reason for restructuring LRED and focusing on Mangrove Place, but it did not affect the schedule. The 14- month delay was caused by events in the Far East as the original contractor, the large South Korean Hyodong Construction Company ( in a joint venture with a local firm), fell victim to the demise of AIG in the US and went bankrupt. Despite shuttling between Abu Dhabi and Korea during 2008 trying to help Hyodong out of its misery, Zubaidi was forced to retrieve the situation. He eventually placed the main construction contract with Gulf Technical Construction Company ( GTCC), a fully- owned subsidiary of Drake & Scull International, one of the most experienced and longest established electro- mechanical contractors in the region, which is currently listed with the DIFC as a publicly listed joint shares company. LRED has done an excellent job of keeping its buyers happy and extending flexibility into their contractual obligations to mitigate delays. " I changed the payment system to a construction progress schedule basis, which means that if any part of the project is late, they do not have to worry about due payment." For those buyers who have defaulted in good faith, he has limited penalties to the default period only. Mangrove Place will be worth the wait. It offers value for money, which is a rare commodity in the region. For a start, while somehow spacious, the flats are not oversized and are consequently competitively priced. " Who really needs a single bedroom flat of 125 square metres?" Zubaidi asks. Typically, in the UAE, such flats sell at around AED1.3 million or more. " It may be what people have come to aspire to, but it is not internationally competitive. We ended up designing such units between 70 and 80 square metres, which enabled us to sell one- bedroom flats for well under one million dirhams." Some are even less than AED700,000 ($ 190,000), which is much more realistic and affordable. Moreover, since many purchasers buy to let, at current rents the return on investment is around 12 per cent, compared with the average of barely seven to eight per cent with other developers in the same market. But nowhere has quality been compromised. " The design gives every single buyer a terrace and a balcony, which was never the case in the UAE before. I insisted on materials from Western Europe and the US; whereas other developers source from the cheaper places. For example, we have the most sophisticated Thyssen lifts from Germany, and even the wiring accessories are in the process of being procured from France's Legrand- the most stylish you can get. They have never been used in a residential building here! It is like staying in the Hilton for the price of a four- star hotel." Mangrove Place is also more sensitive to local conditions than other places. It has the latest temperature- controlled swimming pool tied to the building management system, a gym and a Jacuzzi, in addition to 24- hour manned security and gated parking areas. One thing it does not have is a cradle window cleaning system- and for good reason. The combination of humidity and dust in Abu Dhabi settles on glass surfaces so that after two months, you cannot see out of them. " Our windows swivel open so you can clean them yourself." More importantly, Zubaidi points out, contract window cleaning is a constant problem in Abu Dhabi, which has strict privacy laws. It is haram for a lady to be looked at by a window cleaner who may suddenly appear outside her tenth floor window- but then, overseas developers never seem to appreciate that. - Editorial research by Vincent Kielty Luxury Real Estate Development LLC April 10 www. bus- ex. com 153 UPA is a masterplanning/ urban design, architectural/ engineering consultant committed to providing first class service through working closely with clients and striving for continuous improvement in the designs and services offered. Our approach has always been to put people first in a sustainable and innovative environment. Along with our international associates we produce a complete solution, providing our clients a one- stop station of excellence. Urbanism Planning Architecture " The design gives every single buyer a terrace and a balcony, which was never the case in the UAE before"