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DUBAI, UAE-A burgeoning global real estate investor now aims to be a player on the operational end of the business, as Istithmar has formed a new group that will self-manage the entity’s extensive commercial, industrial and residential holdings and eventually hopes to become a third-party provider of such services. The creation of Imdaad comes after Istithmar bought a 49% stake in its previous facilities management provider, Serco Gulf LLC. Company officials say they will incorporate the Serco operations into Imdaad.

“We wish the new company every success in its future endeavors,” says Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of Istithmar parent Dubai World Group, in a release announcing the initiative. Istithmar, which serves as the private equity arm of the Dubai government, now has a global real estate portfolio approaching $8 billion, and the oil-funded organization is aggressively expanding into new territories such as India and China. Half of Istithmar’s portfolio is in the US, while about 20% is in the Middle East.

Imdaad will have offices throughout the United Arab Emirates, and will be headquartered in Jebel Ali. Besides Istithmar’s own assets, the operation will offer consulting and facilities management assistance to other Dubai World Group divisions, among them Nakheel, DP World, Dubai Waterfront and Jafza. No timetable has been set for farming out the capabilities on a third-party basis, but Imdaad Chairman Ahmed Butti Ahmed pledges that the company “will ensure the delivery of the best services to our clients and their customers in the most efficient manner possible.”

Jamal Abdullah Lootah has been named CEO of Imdaad after more than 15 years working in various management capacities on behalf of the Dubai World Group. “With our extensive experience in handling projects of such magnitude in the past, we are confident that we will have a major influence on improvements in service standards in the facilities management industry, both locally and across the region,” Lootah says.

In his new position, Lootah will manage Imdaad’s current activities, but will also oversee future projects and help to further define the group’s long-range strategic vision. One unanswered question will be the breadth of the global management program and whether it will try to keep pace with the hyperactive investment platform, one which could double in size this year in Asia alone in terms of value of real estate owned. Istithmar officials also recently said they were intent on growing their presence in London and Europe.

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