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The real estate demand in Pakistan has seen a significant surge in recent years, particularly in urban areas. Factors such as a growing population, increasing urbanisation, and the rising sense of having a hedge against inflation have contributed to the demand for property. Additionally, the government’s initiatives to promote the construction industry, specifically in the post COVID times, have also boosted the demand for real estate. However, the market is also facing challenges such as affordability issues and lack of planning, regulations and access to information, which are impacting the long-term growth of the sector. To get a holistic overview of the current state of affairs of Pakistan’s real estate sector, Daily Times sat with Shafiq Akbar – Chairman IMARAT Group & CEO IMARAT is the country’s leading real estate brand, with an ecosystem designed to transform the real estate sector through research, sustainable policies, constructive dialogue & implementation with an aim to bring it up-to-par with the best in the world. Akbar is regarded as the pioneer in revolutionising the real estate sector of our country.

In the exclusive sitting with Daily Times, one of the most accomplished entrepreneurs in Pakistan, Mr. Akbar was asked about his thriving journey in real estate so far. His pursuit for ‘sustainable transformation’ started about two decades back with Hyundai Engineering & Constructions. He then moved to the United Kingdom in 2002. “Soon after, I kicked off my career in real estate by becoming a certified financial advisor for Douglas Allen, UK,” he said, while recalling his time spent overseas.

He did his MSc in Public policy from Queen Mary University of London and also holds a distinction in Masters of Studies from University of Cambridge.

After establishing multiple businesses in the UK and building a strong business acumen in line with his ultimate vision to reform Pakistan, he was determined to return and reform RE policies, incorporate technology & streamline its structure in Pakistan to oust the web of malpractices from this domain.

“I realised that there is a greater motive for which we humans were brought into being. The quest to return to my beautiful homeland for what it has bestowed upon me was what acted as a pushing force to pull me back to my country.”

It merits a mention that Akbar’s contributions to Pakistan’s RE industry are an embodiment of his Vision 2047, which reflects his ambitions for a prosperous Pakistan.

“I identified that there are four underlying problems in Pakistan’s real estate sector: lack of planning, lack of regulations, lack of access to information and as a result, malpractices. These four issues are hampering the growth of what could be Pakistan’s biggest economic growth-driver.”

To take on what was the most herculean task of his career and what would shape the course of his life, Akbar came up with the most has-it-all ecosystem to meet eyeballs with the mist of ifs and buts of Pakistan’s RE. Akbar has made incredible strides in just the past six years that have distinguished his leading real estate brand, the IMARAT Group, in the field of real estate.

Notably, the renowned organisation has become Pakistan’s first home-grown unicorn and launched the country’s first online real estate marketplace, Additionally, IMARAT Group has launched Agency21 International, Pakistan’s largest estate agency network, and achieved the feat of having the fastest vertical construction in the country, delivering five projects in just five years.

“My vision extends beyond merely attaining corporate milestones. The IMARAT Group has prospered by contributing to a better Pakistan. While revolutionising the real estate industry is a crucial goal, our ultimate aim is to effectuate transformative change in the country as well,” Akbar said, highlighting the boundless achievements of the IMARAT Group.