Featured Profiles

The Proptech Revolution

Hamza Betraoui is the Managing Director of Land Sterling, a visionary who has come from humble beginnings. He has over 15 years of experience in the real estate industry. He is an active lecturer at the Dubai Real Estate Institute and believes in moulding and sharing his experience with the upcoming professionals. His vision and strategies have helped the company grow from three people in 2009 to over 100 dedicated employees in the UAE, KSA, and UK. Hamza remains true to his vision to modernize the real estate industry by providing the highest standard of service and developing new technologies that would help improve the industry as a whole. He spearheaded some of the best industry software, one of which the UAE’s largest banks have purchased to streamline its operations. Other innovations under his leadership include introducing Land Sterling Academy, where young talents are provided with structured training in valuations, building surveying and project management.


Hamza was born and raised in Algeria, North Africa and in the neighbouring country of Tunisia with a tight-knit family. His father was in the military, while his mother was a homemaker with the utmost compassion for her children. Being raised in a complex society, he had to always be aware of what was around him that shaped him to be a vigilant individual. As the second child, he also felt the need to make sure everyone was okay, a quality he still exercises daily to ensure his employee’s wellbeing, especially during the difficult time of the pandemic.


Hamza first discovered his passion for technology when he chanced upon computers at the age of 8. Captivated by the device, he began learning everything he could about computers, from software to hardware. Hamza always had a knack for entrepreneurship; by the age of 12, he had successfully created his own computer, thereby starting his entrepreneurial journey.


To pursue his passion for technology and with the given boom in real estate at the time, he pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Planning & Property Development at Nottingham Trent University. While in college, he continued his quest for entrepreneurship. During his final year, Hamza and his friend identified the students’ pain points in dealing with their dissertation and thesis submissions. He says, “Immediately, I saw a market in need of a product. And we started a printing business in our apartment that catered to students giving them a quicker and more affordable option.” This soon turned into the first of many successful business ventures to follow undertaken by the brilliant Hamza.


He graduated in 2007 when the UK was experiencing an economic crisis. He had a setback with the first company where before joining, the real estate arm of the firm was diluted and therefore the opportunity was lost.


Hamza then decided to fly to Dubai and join his brother Youcef. While he was there, he observed the shortage of qualified Arabic-speaking professionals. Due to his excellent command of the language and expertise in planning and property management, he was immediately approached by four international property companies, but Hamza decided to join JLL.


While working at JLL, being a curious learner, Hamza observed that most of the processes were still done manually. To combat this lag in operations, he studied and learned about financial modelling. This advanced excel sheet that he developed made it easier for the valuers to create a report, especially for complex assignments. In turn, this ignited his curiosity and made him seek answers to this question, ‘How do I develop a software that can be used to the same tasks in the shortest span of time?’


This led him to the discovery of Proptech and the vast benefits it offered to the industry. As he advanced in his knowledge and expertise, he started finding new ways to incorporate Proptech for the efficiency of processes. He says, “Proptech does not necessarily mean to remove the traditional method. Instead, it is an innovative way of shortening the distance between point A and point B and creating a higher accuracy rate.”


Land Sterling was established in 2009, which gave a voice to these rising technological advances in the industry. Hamza explains, “At Land Sterling, it is essential for us to put the customers first and this became our driving force in developing new technologies to create a better customer experience. Proptech was not only able to shorten the turnaround time of our reports but also helped in creating a more accurate outcome that met and exceeded client requirements.”


According to Hamza, the biggest challenge the real estate industry currently faces is liability, which places more emphasis on decision-making. He explains, “As consultants, it has become imperative to have accurate, clear and understandable reports. Because of this, fusing technology with real estate processes has made it easier to achieve high accuracy in a short period of time whilst adhering to the international best practices.”


Hamza explains the strategic vision he has for the company using Proptech as a revolutionary tool, “In line with Land Sterling’s strategic vision to be future-ready and play a key role in shaping the built environment in UAE & the larger Middle East market, Belsons Technologies has been set up, which will seek to explore, identify and develop innovative methods and turn-key solutions for the real estate industry.” 


Aside from that, Land Sterling has also entirely digitized their operations and are currently one of the leading companies in the region to go paperless as part of their sustainability plan.


The pandemic was another indicator that showed the resilience of the UAE market due to the advancement of technology in the region. He adds, “The pandemic has had a massive impact on the market but with the great support that the UAE government provided, UAE was able to recover in no time. Being pioneers of PropTech, Land Sterling was one step ahead of the needs that the pandemic created.”


Due to his innate ability to always stay ahead of the curve and his prowess in the industry, Hamza was listed as one of the top ten real estate personalities in 2020 for the MENA region and also made it to the finalist list in the SME Awards 2021 in the category, ‘Business Leader of The Year.’ He has also provided much-needed stability for his company and employees during the extremely challenging time of the pandemic. He adds, “Despite the trials of the pandemic, the Executive Board made the right decision to expand the organization to Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Leeds and London, thereby growing it by almost 70% from the previous year.”


In conclusion, his advice for budding leaders is, “Always be respectful regardless of who you are dealing with, be truthful in everything you do, have compassion and keep on learning and innovating.” And you are sure to excel in the corporate world.