Published in May-Jun 2018
Eiwan Developments, an urban development company established by CG Holdings, have launched their first project called Oshun, a beachfront, resort-style housing project in Gwadar district, a corner of Pakistan which is currently the centre of global attention due to the deep sea port and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) worth $62 billion. Upon completion of the CPEC route, Gwadar will be connected to Central Asian countries and provide one of the largest trade routes internationally, while the seaport, under China’s supervision, will develop into a full-scale commercial port. This promise of a lucrative future is attracting investors from around the globe, including from the real estate sector.
Although Eiwan (Persian for a three-walled house) is a new brand, the founders have a well-established reputation in the real estate sector. CG Holdings, an associate of Consultant’s Group (CG) was founded by three architects – Aslam Akhund, Hafeez Habibi and Faiz Kidwai – and is counted among Pakistan’s prominent firms involved in large-scale urban development projects.
Established in 1987, the company has executed multiple projects, including Pakistan Naval Academy and Fazaia Housing Scheme in Karachi and Sangar Housing Scheme, Maanbar Housing Scheme Gwadar and Meerani Housing Scheme Turbat.
Commenting on Eiwan’s launch, Khurram Kidwai, Director, Eiwan Developments, says that CG have been operating as consultants for B2B projects for 30 years and “we wanted to venture into private development under a new brand name; hence Eiwan.”
Kidwai adds that in the company’s experience, Pakistanis tend to be apprehensive when it comes to buying property, mainly because information about real estate is neither widely nor easily available. “It is like the stock market was run 10 years ago; only a small number of people controlled the inflows and outflows of the market.” As a result, he says, the percentage of Pakistanis who think of real estate as an investment is in single digits.
Citing Gwadar’s example, Kidwai says that over the last 30 years, only one out of 100 projects has actually been delivered; the other 99 turned out to be scams. Eiwan, on the back of CG’s 30-year credibility, aims to bring consumer trust to the sector.
Oshun was launched in March this year and is located in Gunz in Gwadar district. It is nestled between the beach on one side and the mountain range on the other. The objective is to create Pakistan’s first beachfront residential housing community. According to Kidwai, Gunz was an obvious choice as it is one of the least explored beaches in Pakistan and “one of the finest addresses to have in the Gwadar district.”
Eiwan is offering three types of plots in three categories. The first one is called Town Residences in which plots range from 200-500 square yards and their prices range from Rs 1.2 million to two million rupees. The second category is Countryside Residences in which plots range from 1,000-2,000 square yards and cost between Rs 3.5 to 6.5 million. Their third category, Beachfront, has all plots measuring a standard 2,000 square yards and the cost for each is Rs 20 million.
The biggest demand has been for plots worth between Rs 1.2 to two million and this, says Kidwai, suggests that Oshun has been able to penetrate the middle-class segment, which has never been inclined to invest before due to exorbitant property rates. He adds that this was an important reason in choosing Gwadar; in Karachi the same plot would cost Rs 25 million.
“We are not here to sell dreams, to show customers 3D structures, cricket stadiums and fountains. We want to build a relationship with our investors and a brand people can trust.”
Giving his final thoughts, Kidwai encourages people to invest in Gwadar because he believes the port city is today what Dubai was 35 years ago, with the added advantage that today, it is the crown jewel of the CPEC initiative.
Eiwan is targeting both overseas Pakistanis and young professionals. According to Kidwai the average Pakistani starts to think about investment at the approach of 50, whereas in most developed countries, the age is closer to 25.
In terms of marketing (all done in-house), contrary to routine real estate communications, which are more about announcing a project, Eiwan has focused on creating appeal for the brand through a TVC depicting a father-son relationship and what it feels like to own a home.
The project is also being marketed on print, radio and digital. Eiwan also participated in the recent International Property Show in Dubai to target overseas investors; the response, they say, was phenomenal as they have so far received applications from 43 countries.
Kidwai says the development will be ready within three years. “By development I mean the infrastructure and road plan plus the resort we are trying to create to promote tourism. The housing will follow in another five to 10 years.”
Giving his final thoughts, Kidwai encourages people to invest in Gwadar because he believes the port city is today what Dubai was 35 years ago, with the added advantage that today, it is the crown jewel of the CPEC initiative. He concludes with a note of caution regarding the hundreds of scam projects and fraudulent developers who have absconded with people’s money. “Similar things used to happen in Dubai, but now they have a policy that if you do not deliver a project within the committed time, the land is taken away from the developer. This is the kind of policy we want implemented here.”
Kidwai firmly believes this is the only way forward, especially if the government wants to attract foreign investment.