The holiday season is behind us – we are sitting in the cosy premises of Airport City like many times before with our host Mr Adir El Al. Just a few years ago, I would add “CEO of Airport City” next to his name and everybody would immediately associate him with the most successful business complex in Belgrade, beautiful glass façade buildings in New Belgrade with a long list of famous companies residing there.
What is different now?
The current title would be longer, as it includes another project: CEO of Skyline. Also, it would be extended with the title of CEO of AFI Serbia, and that’s probably the biggest difference – since it represents new investments that AFI Europe has here. It represents a steady development of the company’s projects in Serbia and for your reporter is also proof of what we spoke about a few years ago when Mr El Al told CorD Magazine that AFI Europe is here to stay as it has recognized Serbia as a good place to invest.
Where should we start: with your expectations and plans for 2019?
We see our future and the future of projects as stable and prosperous in 2019. When it comes to Airport City, which became a ‘must’ in the office space market, we plan to continue and add another building in 2019. The ACB family is growing and companies working here demand more space, as their businesses are developing, so it’s natural that we follow the market demands.
What about the concept, having in mind that ACB is recognizable as a “City within a City”?
Our concept proved to be superior and broad enough to give us space to expand. We will continue to offer the best quality, but also the best possible maintenance and this very special atmosphere of a City within a City.
It seems that all your project has that special ingredient: “atmosphere”. How do you achieve that? Airport City is for years now repeatedly winning the Award for the best brand – it is not usual for a real estate complex to be recognized as a brand.
It just seems on the surface that these things do not go together. On the contrary, in the modern world, in working or private environments, you must provide the appropriate atmosphere. Much more than an office and a desk, an apartment and a garage… you must provide a lot more. People need to feel good. They shouldn’t lack anything that makes their work and life easier and simpler. I think that all wisdom is in simplicity; in understanding the needs of clients – from the global companies to which we lease business premises to the tenants of our future residential buildings. The ambience is what defines and contents are what meet people’s needs. After you add to this list comfort that is unobtrusive, plus an exterior that encourages and inspires you, and an interior that relaxes and doesn’t burden you, this all together gives people a good feeling; both for working and living. The formula for success is in the synergy of the most modern architecture, infrastructure and adequate ambient units.
The huge infrastructure developments we’ve built bring with them the immense value that remains in Serbia. I have a special relationship with this which isn’t only in a business sense, but also human and slightly emotional. I love Serbia and I love Belgrade
Do you expect Skyline to also have a special atmosphere?
Skyline is certainly a great challenge. It is a marvellous project in a very special place which will change the silhouette of Belgrade. With its three towers overlooking the river on one side, providing its residents with the best views of green Dedinje and Avala on the other.
However, the concept we are offering is as important as it was in all other projects: apart from architecture and quality buildings, which represent our standard, it will give its inhabitants the security and comfort of a nest with a piazetta in the middle, elegant shops, the marvellous little Three Keys Park and plenty of modern facilities – from parking to the best private swimming pool in the city. I am sure that it will become a synonym for a beautiful –lifestyle, just as ACB became a synonym for a successful and special business environment. We know how to develop a consistent concept and this is what sets our projects apart from some others. And 2019 will be a start for us in Skyline in that very direction.
Is this something you brought with you or has it developed over the years you’ve spent in Belgrade – after all, you have been here for 16 years and that has certainly influenced you? If you were asked to compare the time when you started with today’s time what would you say?
Well, (A broad smile appears on Mr El Al’s face), you bring your heritage with you, but sixteen years is a long time in one’s life. Belgrade’s atmosphere and your life habits certainly influenced me. I am different than I was in the beginning and my understanding of different cultures is certainly more profound.
From the time I came until today, Belgrade has experienced a huge transformation. I can say with great satisfaction that the progress is fantastic. My company and I feel as though we’re part of this prosperity because it’s something we partly participated in. The arrival of global companies, the economic progress achieved, the business environment provided for them – all of that is part of the chain that has contributed to this success. I am very proud that our clients, people from successful business circles, found a fitting business space precisely in our facilities, and that the standards we provide them with are the same as those provided to top-notch businesses anywhere around the world.
What are the reasons for your conviction in the prosperity of real estate here?
Serbia is progressing and the business environment is improving every year, even though people might not notice certain processes that businesspeople and investors from abroad recognize.
And when it comes to our situation, my conviction comes from the fact that the huge infrastructure developments we’ve built bring with them the immense value that remains in Serbia, many people got jobs and companies developed their businesses with us, and I feel that people and officials here appreciate that.
My company appreciates Serbia as a very important strategic destination. We at AFI Europe have big plans for the years ahead.
And you personally?
I have a special relationship with Belgrade that isn’t only in a business sense, but also human and emotional. I love Serbia and I love Belgrade. My family lives here. We have been very happy here for years now.
Belgrade is a beautiful place to live. It’s simple; the people are cordial and open. Dealing with business, administration and regulation might not be that simple, but it’s nice for living.
And that simplicity we mentioned at the beginning brings us back to the conclusion that new ideas are born and created from simple things.
Yes. When you manage to make complicated, tricky things seem clear and simple, solutions will emerge. This is both my business and private philosophy. Make it beautifully simple,” concludes Adir El Al.