One of the leading indigenous construction companies, Bison Maldives, has gained a reputation over the years for developing some of the most luxurious resorts in the Maldives, including the recently developed You and Me by Cocoon resort, the resorts main attraction is nestled six meters underwater as the globes biggest under-water restaurant. Abdul Majeed, managing director at Bison, discusses the company’s perspectives and the challenges in the construction sector.
What is Bison Maldives’ role in the development of the Maldivian construction sector?
We are proud of our role in the evolution of real estate property development in the Maldives. Our goal is to promote the synergy between ‘human’ and ‘environment’ to create rich living spaces that are comfortable and efﬁcient. As a company with 15 years of experience, we have developed numerous luxurious facilities, making sure to provide customers with the technology, products and services that generate greater value.
What are the biggest challenges facing the construction industry in the Maldives today?
The main challenges we face include considerable fluctuations in the prices of imported construction raw materials as global prices change, a shortage of skilled labor as well as red tape. However, no problem is as challenging as finding financing for major construction projects. This is added on by broader issues relating to the macroeconomic and regulatory environment, which has considerably lowered investor confidence in recent years, which in turn hinders our ability to attract foreign investment to the sector. The bank guarantees local construction companies have to offer for major real estate developments are very challenging to get. Local companies have a “single borrower limitation” and cannot source funding from overseas banks. While this policy is meant to guarantee project sustainability, in fact it dramatically reduces our ability to compete with international developers that can seek funding from the international market. This caused a number of local companies to lose contracts to international competitors over the years. Fortunately, new government policies open doors for partnerships with overseas players. This includes the new policy which mandates that foreign companies must work with local partners in real estate development in the Maldives.
Urban development in the Maldives is concentrated in the Greater Male region. What opportunities are there for a company like Bison in the outer atolls?
The opportunities outside Male are bound to increase in the coming years as the government’s decentralization strategy continues to unfold. The ministry of finance and the ministry of housing have earmarked social housing projects in most of the outer atolls. One such project is the upcoming 200 housing unit development in Gan, Laamu Atoll. These type of projects are very interesting for a company like Bison and we are sure to participate in the coming bids.