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Following are excerpts from a CNBC interview with Hussain Sajwani, Founder and Chairman of DAMAC Properties and CNBC's Hadley Gamble, Steve Sedgwick and Geoff Cutmore from the World Economic Forum 2018.
AF: And you can catch more of Hadley Gamble's conversation there with Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, tomorrow, that's at 16:30 Central Time there. But, Hadley, joining me here on set to shift gears a bit, to talk about property in the Middle East.
HG: Absolutely, and we're joined now by Hussain Sajwani, now, I want to get in to this immediately, because you have such a strong affiliation with President Trump, we're expecting him here, in just a couple of days, in Davos. There has been a lot of pushback, though, particularly around the controversial decision on Jerusalem. Is there a-, you know, a danger that the brand could suffer, as a result of President Trump's popularity, if it ebbs and flows?
HS: We, as an organization, as you appreciate, signed a commercial deal with the Trump organization, to build for us two golf courses, and we have opened the first golf course in February, 20th, we're very happy with the design, the quality, and I think it's one of the best golf courses, not in the Middle East, but around the world. Our second golf course is on the way, and I don't see any impact, any effect on our business, we are doing business as usual. As a matter of fact, last year, our sales, I think, are going to be up by a few percentage, it's going to be announced soon, when our results will be announced.
HG: So, a lot of optimism, but you've also mentioned that you're looking to sell about a 15% stake in the company. What's the right price that you're looking for?
HS: The question was, would I be willing to sell some stake in the company, and for creating the liquidity, yes, I'm willing to sell. Is it 5, or 10, or 15%? This, you know, depends on the market, depends on the price, depends on the-, on the timing.
HG: And what's your outlook for the Dubai property market, in particular, given what we've seen over the last couple of years? And there are fears that there's going to be, you know, a danger of overcapacity there.
HS: I don't see a danger of capacity, because we have about half a million freehold units in Dubai, we're growing at least 3% to 4%. We need, minimum, 15,000 units every year. In the last three years, we've produced less than 10,000. Going forward, I don't see more than 10,000, 12,000 units, so I see supply and demand equilibrium, I see the market is stable. I don't see a surprise of '08 or '09 of crash, neither do I see a surprise of '13, or '12, of market going up by, you know, 30%. I see a stable market, last year it grew about 6%, the market, as per the information, or the data they-, they announced, and I think there's a very healthy, stable market going forward.
HG: Okay. I wonder if we can, very quickly, talk about some of the business opportunities here in the region. You've talked about the softening property market in the UK, perhaps a potential for investments there. Very quickly, what, specifically, are you looking at?
HS: We're looking to expand, we're looking to grow. Our cashflow is very strong, our balance sheet is not fully leveraged-,
HS: And we're looking at Europe, we're looking at North America. I think UK, especially London, provides a major opportunity, especially with the softening of the property market after Brexit, and the pound is more reasonably priced, compared to the dollar two years ago.
AF: Okay, unfortunately, we'll have to leave it there. Our thanks to both of you for joining us here. That's the very latest, a wrap here from Davos, but we will, of course, continue our coverage all throughout the day, and the week.