How Sheikh Abdullatif Alshelash Revolutionized Saudi Arabia’s Real Estate Industry

Sheikh Abdullatif Al Shelash says he understands what it takes to succeed in the real estate industry. The former managing director of Dar Al Arkan has been very involved in the promotion of the collaboration between the private and the public sector in the real estate industry. He says he often meets with many of the governmental companies that have been established in Saudi Arabia in the past four to five years to assist in future real estate collaborations.

A Graduate of Purdue University Sheikh Abdullatif Al Shelash describes himself as a “kinetic leader in touch with the people and the market.” He says he loves real estate and its business development and continues to have a passion for financial modeling for real estate projects.

How Abdullatif Al Shelash Leveraged his Real Estate Expertise To Grow Dar Al Arkan

While advising at Dar Al Arkan, the premier property developer in Saudi Arabia, Abdullatif Al Shelash helped the company increase its capital by $1.4 billion through a private placement in the domestic market. He was previously a board member at the firm.

Dar Al Arkan is a brand headquartered in the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that’s synonymous with innovation and style, offering award-winning real estate options. Its portfolio includes W Residences Dubai, which offers waterfront apartments ranging from 5,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet. With more than 27 years of leaving its mark on the real estate industry, Dar Al Arkan has also partnered with some of the most sought-after designers in the world such as Italian fashion house Missoni, a favorite designer of Beyoncé and Cate Blanchett, and Roberto Cavalli, a designer whose fashions are frequently photographed on Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, and Kim Kardashian. 

The progressive real estate brand also introduced the first-ever 12 villas by Versace Home to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Shams Ar Riyadh project. From a cascading waterfall to panoramic views, the villas are a high-tech hybrid of fine design and modern luxury living. 

As managing director at Dar Al Arkan, Abdullatif Al Shelash says he worked closely with the CEO on strategic real estate decisions and business development activities before taking those decisions to the board for final approval. While the CEO would be the main person operating on the ground and working on the project, Abdullatif Al Shelash was a facilitator with many of the facets of the governmental organizations handling permits, zoning, traffic impact analysis, and other essential components.

Abdullatif Al Shelash adds the founding members of Dar Al Arkan became his mentors. 

Although Abdullatif Al Shelash hasn’t been active in Dar Al Arkan since 2012, he went on to establish his own business, Saudi Home Loans (SHL). “This is a company that was the first company established in Saudi to assist Saudi nationals in buying their home on a mortgage,” Abdullatif Al Shelash says. “It was one of the very first mortgage companies to be established in Saudi.”

Abdullatif Al Shelash is also a founding member and board member of SHL, which went public on the Saudi stock exchange two months ago. 

“It was among the first bank and finance companies that were also providing a complete solution,” he says. “This company was providing the financing at a time when in 2007, the concept of home finance was still not established in Saudi. Eventually, the market caught up with the concept of home finance, and it became now a very chic industry, but when it started in 2007, it was totally new.”

Abdullatif Al Shelash Shares Key Industry Lesson 

With more than 18 years of experience working in financial management, Abdullatif Al Shelash says he has learned some valuable lessons.

“The most important lesson that I have learned in managing banks, managing real estate companies, and managing mortgage-related companies is to watch your cash flow in business,” Abdullatif Al Shelash says. “Plus, this is what made so many companies disappear in 2008. “Plus, this is what made so many companies disappear in 2008.” [for] most of the companies that we had, but after that, our cash management in all of the companies is very conservative based on what we have learned through 1999, 2000, 2001, 2008, and who knows when the second crash is going to happen.”

How Saudi Home Loans Is a Real Estate Game Changer

As a leader in the Saudi real estate finance market, Saudi Home Loans specializes in Sharia-compliant residential mortgages and serves commercial customers with real estate transactions in compliance with laws and regulations in Saudi Arabia.

With a dominant presence in ​​the Saudi mortgage market since 2008, Saudi Home Loans is the most profitable company among nonbank mortgage companies, according to It’s also been exhibiting an annual growth rate of 40% in net profit.

“They were the first among the companies to promote home finance because the culture here was ‘I would save to have the full price of my house or I would save to buy a land and then I will save to build a house on that land,’” Abdullatif Al Shelash says. “So they came in with a totally different concept. This is not a requirement. We can give you a mortgage over 15, 20, or 25 years, and you can actually go and live in your home today.”

Abdullatif Al Shelash emphasizes how this transformed the art of buying a home, especially for first-time buyers. 

“So this changed the concept and the minds of people. [They realized] ‘I don’t need to wait,’” Abdullatif Al Shelash says. “This helped so many people to have their first home, get married, or some of them married people who were actually living with their parents to move into new homes.”

Abdullatif Al Shelash also points out that this aided urbanization. “Many people could not afford to think of buying a house to live in the city, they were living in the suburbs,” he concludes. “So they moved into the city because of that ability of home loans and mortgages.”


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Pamela is a television journalist, humor writer and novelist. Her first novel, Allegedly, was released in 2015 by St. Martin’s Press. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She and her husband, Daniel, have a 3-year-old son, Carter.

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