Hussain Sajwani Ushers DAMAC To Success With His Strong International Ties

DAMAC is probably UAE’s most glamorous property development company. With shocking marketing stunts ranging from giving a Bentley with every luxury apartment, to closing a deal with Donald Trump of building a fancy golf course.

But DAMAC’s founder and chairman, Hussain Sajwani, started from a very different line of business. Hussain Sajwani rose to international prominence from his accomplishments in the food industry.

Hussain Sajwani entered the food business in the 1980s, providing catering services to the workers in Abu Dhabi’s energy sector. Later his firm worked for Americans situated all over the world including the Gulf, Somalia, Bosnia and also worked for the United States Army during the Iraq war in 1991. For the latter, Hussain Sajwani received special mention from the US Government and his relations with the US have been pretty strong ever since. Despite the flourishing business, the food business was very small for Mr. Sajwani. He was making millions in catering, but making billions was not possible, he famously said.

In 2002, just when Dubai saw real estate boom, Hussain Sajwani decided to get into property development and established DAMAC. Earlier, his family had ventured into property development in Dubai, and he had also some experience building mid-market hotels in Deira which saw an influx of tourists from the Soviet Union after its collapse.

The food business has since been incorporated in the DAMAC Group operations, and CEO Hussain Sajwani’s strong ties with the US has helped him cultivate important friends on a global scale. Perhaps, his reputation helped DAMAC to enter initial public offering of shares, with one of the possible IPO avenues being the London Stock Exchange.

After the market crash in 2008, Mr. Sajwani (@HussainSajwaniOfficial) recalls DAMAC was one of the few companies to have predicted the downfall and averted the crisis by careful cost-cutting, strictly monitoring projects and buyers and preserving cash flow. When Dubai’s market showed signs of recovery, Hussain Sajwani was quick to seize the opportunity for expansion. He focused on Saudi Arabia, especially Riyadh and Jeddah, while also eyeing Turkey as another potential market.

Familial business always brings the question of succession, with some suggesting that this explains the IPO consideration. Although, Mr. Sajwani has pointed out that his company has a robust corporate structure and may transition smoothly in case of IPO offering.

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