We recently interviewed Mohamad Rabih Itani, partner – Residential Project Sales and Marketing, at Knight Frank. With his immense work experience in different nations, he has an in-depth knowledge of the local and international real estate market. Besides that, he has successfully launched multiple companies worldwide. Moreover, he has bagged several awards and recognition, along with being a regular writer, publishing articles about the real estate industry. Let’s learn more about Mohamad and his journey through this interview below.
Start Of This Journey
We wanted to learn about the beginning of Mohamad’s journey that led him to his current position. We asked, “Which career path led you to where you are today?”
He shared, “It was when I first came to Saudi Arabia after I finished my MBA in 2002 to join the company, which became the biggest real estate developer in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabia real estate market has amazed me since then, and I am always grateful to have been working with great companies in the Kingdom and advised for some in the region. This all has led me to join one of the best real estate consultancy firms in the world to lead the Saudi market’s residential sales and marketing projects.”
Evolution Of Priorities
Priorities of a business undergo multiple changes throughout functioning. Even experts in their respective fields have to adapt to the changes in the industry by evolving their preferences. So we asked, “How have your priorities in terms of business evolved since you first started?”
He replied, “My priority was always to deliver results. As humans, we always like to hear the good news and avoid the bad ones. As a professional, I always learned to tell the truth no matter how hard it is. Thus, to deliver a good job, I need to know what is going on and the client’s pain. Once I know and identify the problem, I focus on the cure and execute my plan to deliver positive results.
Any mistake in real estate can cause millions, and my job in the real estate sales and marketing function is to ensure the developers are developing the products their clients need and want and presenting them to them best. The expression “build, and they will come” is not valid anymore in this part of the world. Understanding the client’s needs and desires should be at the core of the developer’s interests, and his role today goes beyond delivering projects but making sure that his clients are happy living in these projects.”
Every industry has its set of challenges that businesses need to overcome. We asked, “What are the most challenging situations you faced?”
Mohamad Rabih Itani shared, “I was always interested in the local real estate market in Saudi Arabia or the GCC and international markets.
Each market is unique, and it takes work to learn about different needs. For example, I tried to open in the Far East, and it is a very different game. The laws, regulations, and buyer profiles are other in our part of the world.
Furthermore, real estate developers in Saudi Arabia now recognize that they will need advice more than ever. Five years ago, convincing a developer that he needed a consultant was challenging. Now that the market is changing and is getting ready to open to international investors and buyers, developers will need the consultant’s expertise to eliminate their project’s risks and deliver results.”
“What’s the key strength to overcome it?”
He shared, “Consistency and self-development. I believe that Consistency is key to success. If you know what you are doing is right, you need to keep doing it until opportunity knocks at your door. In addition to that, self-development is very important. One should not only rely on his experience but also always strive to learn something new, to study, read and stay ahead in the market, especially in our field.”
Uniqueness In His Role
We were intrigued to learn about the unique features of his roles that make him the best amidst the tough competition. We asked, “What makes your role stand out from all the other businesses in your industry?”
He replied, “I am combining local market expertise with international one. At the same time, all my 20 years of experience have been in selling and marketing real estate projects in this region and, precisely, Saudi Arabia. I helped build companies and projects brands and successfully delivered sales results in the companies I worked for.”
KPIs For Measuring Business Success
“What KPIs do you use to measure your business success?”
He shared, “Like any other profession, the sales and marketing in the real estate industry are measurable.
When it comes to brand building, I always do brand equity exercises when I start to work with a company, followed by another one after 1 year. This will allow me to identify the improvements made over the year and know what to focus on for the following year. When it comes to sales, numbers talk.
Third, team building. Real estate is not about money but people. If you build a harmonious solid team, you will be unstoppable. Easier said than done. But, I made strong teams in the companies I served for.
We wanted to know about the list of services Mohamad is associated with and working on. We asked Mohamad Rabih Itani, “Tell us something about your services. What are you working on now?”
He shared, “It is an exciting time for the real estate industry in Saudi Arabia. With all these Giga projects coming, like Neom, Red Sea, Dirriyah, Qiddiyah, and other cities under construction, it is a market where every developer and consultant wants to be. I am currently working with my team on some assignments for such projects and other private developers.
I am working on some sales and marketing assignments and planning future projects.”
Encouraging Productivity Without Burnout
Sharing good relations with the entire team is essential for achieving business success. So we asked, “How do you build trust with your employees and boost productivity without causing burnout?”
Mohamad Rabih Itani shared, “I am from the school that believes one should trust his team members and help them correct their mistakes. This is why engagement with the team is always essential. At Knight Frank, we have a flat organizational chart rather than a vertical one. Any achievement is a team achievement and not an individual one.
Complex and intelligent work in any environment leads to successful results, and poor achievement drives poor results. You have to decide which side you want to be on.”
Adapting To the Latest Technologies
With a boost in technological advancements and evolving trends, businesses and experts need to hop on the same to maintain their stand in the industry. We asked, “How do you stay on top of new technologies and trends in your industry?”
Mohamad Rabih Itani replied, “Technology and real estate are getting more aligned. Real estate developers will only be able to survive in the future by integrating Technology into their projects and operations. I have written many articles on the role of Technology in real estate. For example, imagine the use of data science in real estate; you will be able to minimize your marketing cost and efficiently target your clients.
Digital transformation for real estate developers will facilitate their business with minimum cost, having real-time data, monitoring their teams’ activities, and updating all their projects on a dashboard. It is simply amazing.
Real estate tokenization and smart city solutions are also coming to Saudi. Some are being implemented now.”
Advice To Beginners
Budding entrepreneurs starting on a similar path will find it inspiring and helpful to hear from an expert like Mohamad. So we asked, “What advice would you give starting entrepreneurs?”
He shared, “Failure is part of the success journey. Success does not have an age or time. To succeed, you must be consistent with your actions, believe in your capabilities, and always try to stay ahead of the market.
Life is a continuous learning journey where we choose to be market players or makers.”
Connect with Mohamad Rabih Itani on LinkedIn.