MAKING HOMEWARE SUSTAINABLE WITH THE URBAN YOGI
SUPPORT FOR SMEs FIT FOR BUSINESS ON A MISSION TO PROVIDE VALUE
A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO COLOUR PSYCHOLOGY
How the founders of candle shop Hooof hope to set a shining example for the UAE's entrepreneurs EVERY ISSUE
The Socialite MAKING HASHTAGS WORK FOR YOU
An ITP Executive Publication
VOL. 2 ISSUE 02
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THE FOUNDERS OF HOOOF TALK ABOUT HOW THEY’RE CARRYING THE FLAME FOR THE UAE’S CANDLE MARKET
IN THIS ISSUE
VOL. 2 ISSUE 2 | NOVEMBER 2013
03 EDITOR’S LETTER 04 NEWS
06 LOCATION, LOCATION... Deira has many business opportunities, but is it the right place for you?
• New survey reveals the UAE’s views on entrepreneurship
08 SHOULD I?
• 81.5 percent of the UAE’s SMEs plan to recruit more staff in the coming months.
• Study shows UAE’s focus on exports
We examine some of the pros and cons of starting a family business. We pick five of the best networking opportunities across the UAE.
IN THIS ISSUE VOL. 2 ISSUE 2 | NOVEMBER 2013
24 HAYAT SINDI
Saudi Arabiaâ€™s prominent scientist, inventor and entrepreneur talks about how innovation can boom in the region.
Why big data is beoming more important to SMEs
32 THE URBAN YOGI
Nisha Varman Shetty reveals her journey to setting up a new homeware brand with sustainability at its core.
38 FIT FOR BUSINESS
Founder of Fit For Business, Liam Mooney, identifies the major issues facing SMEs and how to tackle them.
44 VENTURE CAPITAL
Shahram Safai of Afridi & Angell on how to retain control while accessing venture capital.
46 THE PIZZA GUYS
Itâ€™s hard standing out in the pizza market, but The Pizza Guys explain how they intend to achieve it.
We examine the psychology of colour and which hues are best suited to you brand.
54 QATAR START-UPS
As Qatarâ€™s stock rises, more and more businesses look to set up there. StartUp investigates what it takes to get going in the emirate.
How can hashtags benefit your business? You may be surpised at their advantages.
12 HOW TO
60 LUCY BRUCE
Communication is key to success, so we offer some top tips on how to communicate with your staff.
The founder of Harmony House talks about her plans to expand and develop her chairtable causes.
66 FASHION FORWARD
Yaser Abushaban of Emirates Investment Bank on the risk for entrepreneur investors.
We meet the founders of Hooof who plan to revolutionise the UAEâ€™s candle market.
We find out the behindthe-scenes story of Dubaiâ€™s premier fashion event, Fashion Forward.
72 HOW I DID IT
Thumbay Moideen on how he built a healthcare empire.
vol. 2 /november 2013
Editor’s letter Registered at Dubai Media City ITP Executive Publishing PO Box 500024, Dubai, United Arab Emirates tel +971 4 444 3000 fax +971 4 444 3030 ITP EXECUTIVE PUBLISHING CEO Walid Akawi MD, ITP PUBLISHING GROUP Neil Davies MANAGING DIRECTOR, ITP EXECUTIVE Karam Awad GENERAL MANAGER Peter Conmy EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Anil Bhoyrul EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Rob Corder, email email@example.com EDITOR Neil King tel +971 4 444 3142 email firstname.lastname@example.org SUB EDITOR Edward Liamzon tel +971 4 444 3474 email email@example.com ARABIANBUSINESS.COM GROUP EDITOR Will Milner tel +971 4 444 3184 email firstname.lastname@example.org DEPUTY EDITOR Daniel Shane tel +971 4 444 3316 email email@example.com STUDIO GROUP ART EDITOR Daniel Prescott SENIOR DESIGNER Adrian Luca DESIGNER Rey Delante CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER Jovana Obradovic SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHERS Isidora Bojovic, Efraim Evidor STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS Lester Ali, George Dipin, Juliet Dunne, Murrindie Frew, Lyubov Galushko, Verko Ignjatovic, Shruti Jagdesh, Stanislav Kuzmin, Mosh Lafuente, Ruel Pableo, Rajesh Raghav PRODUCTION & DISTRIBUTION GROUP PRODUCTION & DISTRIBUTION DIRECTOR Kyle Smith DEPUTY PRODUCTION MANAGER Basel Al Kassem PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Sonam Bhoneshwar MANAGING PICTURE EDITOR Patrick Littlejohn SENIOR IMAGE EDITOR Emmalyn Robles DISTRIBUTION EXECUTIVE Nada Al Alami CIRCULATION RETAIL DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Osama Baraka tel +971 4 444 3629 email firstname.lastname@example.org HEAD OF CIRCULATION & DATABASE Gaurav Gulati ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Wissam Younane tel +971 4 444 3592, email email@example.com GROUP SALES MANAGER Paul Williams, tel +971 4 444 3348, email firstname.lastname@example.org GENERAL MANAGER — SALES (KSA) Rabih Naderi tel Direct/Fax +966 1 206 8697 email email@example.com ONLINE ADVERTISING DIGITAL PUBLISHING DIRECTOR Ahmad Bashour, tel +971 4 444 3549, email firstname.lastname@example.org GROUP SALES MANAGER, ARABIANBUSINESS.COM Gemma Dickson, tel +971 4 444 3835 email email@example.com INTERNET APPS MANAGER Mohammed Affan OPERATIONS MANAGER Asad Azizi MARKETING HEAD OF MARKETING Daniel Fewtrell tel +971 4 444 3684, email firstname.lastname@example.org EVENTS MANAGER Michelle Meyrick tel +971 4 444 3328, email email@example.com ITP GROUP CHAIRMAN Andrew Neil MANAGING DIRECTOR Robert Serafin FINANCE DIRECTOR Toby Jay Spencer-Davies BOARD OF DIRECTORS KM Jamieson, Mike Bayman, Walid Akawi, Neil Davies, Rob Corder, Mary Serafin CORPORATE WEBSITE www.itp.com CIRCULATION CUSTOMER SERVICE tel: +971 4 4443000 WEB www.arabianbusiness.com NOTICE The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication, which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the readers’ particular circumstances. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publishers in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review. PRINTED by United Printing Press, Abu Dhabi CONTROLLED DISTRIBUTION by Blue Truck All photos used in this magazine are by Gallo Images/Getty Images/Shutterstock/ Bloomberg Images unless otherwise credited.
PUBLISHED BY AND ©2013 ITP EXECUTIVE PUBLISHING, A DIVISION OF THE ITP PUBLISHING GROUP LTD, REGISTERED IN THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS COMPANY NUMBER 1402846
NEVER GIVE UP
FROM SLOW STARTS, MANY SMES HAVE HAD TO BIDE THEIR TIME TO GET TO WHERE THEY WANT TO BE. PERSEVERANCE IS A SKILL which many businesses would benefit from acquiring. Playing the long game is not easy, especially within a competitive market which often demands immediate results, but there’s a lot to be said for hanging in there even when times are tough. The right mental attitude and willingness to keep going during adversity and lean periods is what kept many companies going during the difficult years immediately after the financial collapse in 2008. Indeed, it gave many businesses and individuals a grittier, tougher edge which subsequently gave them a competitive advantage. Take Talabat.com, for example. The online food ordering service was launched in 2004, only attracting twelve restaurants to its books in its first year. But through perseverance and self belief, the company slowly but surely grew and gained prominence. Now it has more than 700 restaurants and is approaching the four million order mark across six different countries. Another of our featured entrepreneurs, Hayat Sindi, also fought for her dreams. Facing obstacles at every stage of her early scientific career, she has risen to become one of the most renowned and respected innovators in her field. Anybody who has launched a start-up will know that success doesn’t come overnight, and that it takes time to build up your business. Perseverance is a key part of an entrepreneur’s skill-set, and if some of the features in this month’s magazine prove anything, it’s that keeping faith and working hard can eventually lead to the results you desire.
NEIL KING EDITOR 
News > E-COMMERCE
One-stop shop for start-ups
SURVEY SHOWS UAE’S ENTREPRENEURIAL TENDENCIES Entrepreneurship in the Middle East survey shows half of UAE’s workforce would prefer to be self-employed
survey by job site Bayt.com has revealed that 47 percent of people in the UAE would prefer to be self-employed, with 48 percent saying they would rather be employees. The Bayt.com Entrepreneurship in the Middle East survey, conducted with YouGov, reinforced the entrepreneurial nature of the UAE, with many respondents saying self-employment would lead to a better life. Of those who said they preferred an entrepreneurial path, 60 percent stated self-fulfillment as their number one reason, followed by freedom to choose their own work-life balance, and the chance to be their own boss. Some 53 percent of respondents currently employed in the public or private sector said they are thinking of starting their own business, while 20 percent have already tried to do so. About 42 percent said that the best time to start a business is mid-career, while 36 percent said ‘any time’ is good for starting up. The advice that most people (39 percent) would give to an entrepreneur is ‘don’t be afraid of failure’.
However, only ten percent of people surveyed said that ‘all’ and ‘almost all’ entrepreneurs they know are successful. The most popular start-up concerns were found to be procuring finances (62 percent), uncertainty of profit and income (44 percent), and the need to establish the right contacts (36 percent). VP of sales for Bayt.com, Suhail Masri, said: “It would seem there are issues standing in the way of people becoming self-employed. With finance being the number one problem across the Middle East, it suggests that the region needs more angel investors to step in and help local entrepreneurs. “It might also be of benefit for authorities to reconsider their policies, as less stringent regulations could encourage the creation of more start-ups.” Those who preferred to work for a company over self-employment cited the chance to learn new skills and techniques as the main reason (45 percent), closely followed by regular income (43 percent) and benefits such as medical insurance (34 percent).
Middle East start-ups will be able to more easily tap into the growing online retail sector with the launch of the first e-commerce platform dedicated to the region. The joint project between e-commerce giants Aramex, Google, PayPal and ShopGo is described as a “one-stop shop solution” with minimum risk. Francis Barel, MENA business development manager for PayPal, said EZStore.me was a “turn-key solution” to get start-ups into online trading, with certainty in payments and help in generating traffic and ultimately customers. Under the arrangement businesses pay $650 for a package by ShopGo, which includes all online solutions from the creation of a website, advertising of up to 100 products initially and payment and delivery of goods. Ongoing costs will be then be in line with the fees charges by the respective companies behind the new offering, with the exception of first-up promotional deals.
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JAFZA LAUNCHES MOBILE APP Jebel Ali Free Zone has released a new mobile application to help streamline its electronic services. The app will give non-existing customers access to information on services, investor guides to the UAE, enquiry forms to start a company within the free zone, and general information
about JAFA and Dubai. The free zone’s current customer base of more than 7,000 large, medium and small business will be able to use company and employee services, including visa applications, licence renewals, official letters, and making payments.
SMES LOOK TO RECRUIT
81.5% of UAE’s SMEs say they plan to hire within six months
survey of the 50 top SMEs in the UAE showed that an overwhelming majority plan to hire in the next six months. Some 81.5 percent of those surveyed say they would look to hire on the back of strong business results towards the last quarter of 2013, requiring extra manpower to support their growing operations. The remaining 18.5 percent are not planning to hire, but many of this group recruited earlier in the year. More than 60 percent also said that they harboured concerns over the costs of recruitment, citing visa expenses as the biggest challenge. HE Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME, said while hiring is
important to the growth of SMEs, many would benefit from implementing retention and development strategies for existing employees. “While many enlightened, willing and able SMEs realise the need to attract, retain and develop good employees, there is still a long way to go. “Through the Dubai SME100 initiative, we work to create more awareness
of human capital development, and showcase good SME role models for other SMEs to learn good practices of their SME peers.” The UAE has also been ranked 24 out of 122 countries by the World Economic Forum in terms of its ability to tap human capital. The Human Capital Index 2013 represents 90 percent of the world’s population, and aims to guide countries when formulating policies and making decision on the investment in people’s economic potential. The UAE ranked well in the Index’s four pillars: education, health and wellness, workforce and employment, and enabling environment.
UAE TOPS EXPORTER LIST: STUDY SMEs in the UAE are the most exportfocused in the world, according to a new study by insurance company, Zurich. The study surveyed more than 3,250 SMEs across twelve countries, including 250 businesses in the UAE. A quarter of the UAE respondents (26 percent) said they expanded their exporting activities during the past year – the highest figure across all surveyed countries and double the global average.
Domestic growth was also key for a lot of UAE SMEs, with 30 percent saying they expanded their activities to target new domestic customers, compared to the global average of 23 percent. SMEs in the Emirates also said they would look to an increase in exports in the next twelve months, with 28 percent saying expansion into international markets represented the biggest opportunity for their business.
Bahrain focuses on private sector A series of consultation workshops aimed at developing Bahrain’s private sector has drawn to a close with an event dedicated to the issues faced by business owners and individuals. The fourth and final session of the series was hosted by Tamkeen – an initiative funded by and for the private sector to help foster the creation of businesses, and provide support for their productivity and growth. The workshops, help in Manama, involved in-depth discussions about the challenges businesses in Bahrain face, followed by presentations recommending solutions.
WHATâ€™S IT LIKE? The historic commercial centre of Dubai, Deira is still a busy and bustling marketplace with vast numbers of small b businesses, independent shops, tourist attractions, office towers and malls.
WHERE IS IT? In the north of Dubai, Deira is the heart of old Dubai, bordered by the Gulf, the Creek, the airport, and Sharjah.
The Gold Souk is a popular part of Deira. 
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The Creek turned Deira into the trading hub of old Dubai.
WHERE’S THE BEST BIT? There are a few hotspots, including Business Village, Deira City Centre mall, the shore of the creek, and the spice market.
HOW DO I GET A SPOT?
It depends where you want to set up shop. For Business Village and Deira City Centre you can make an n enquiry through their website, and it’s worth trawling the internet forr private landlords with available units.
BEING SO CLOSE TO SHARJAH, IT’S WORTH TARGETING CUSTOMERS FROM THERE.
WHAT’S THE DOWNSIDE? D Tr Trade has been moving away from old dD Dubai b i to t new D Dubai, so Deira is less of a hub than it used to be.
W WHAT’S THE UPSIDE? U
WHAT SORT OF BUSINESSES ARE THERE? Anything and everything. There’s space for all sorts of businesses here, from the tiny to the huge.
RiumaLab / Shutterstock.com
T There is still a huge number of people e living here, m meaning there’s a lot of footfall. It’s also cheap, and th the history of the area gives it a lot of credence.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW? Deira City Centre is one of the area’s malls.
Deira can be a bit of a rabbit warren, so make sure people know where to find you. 
START A FAMILY BUSINESS? 3526
YOU KNOW EACH OTHER VERY WELL CAN BE PASSED ON TO FUTURE GENERATIONS MORE LIKELY TO TREAT EACH OTHER FAIRLY MIGHT MISS SOME EXPERTISE NO CLEAR EXIT STRATEGY FAMILY TIES COULD BECOME STRAINED
What’s the appeal of a family business?
It varies from family to family, but for a lot of people the opportunity to create a legacy and secure employment for future generations is the main appeal. Add to that the advantage of having the people you – theoretically – know and trust the most working with you, and you could have the basis of an open, honest, and mutually beneficial business.
So why don’t more people do it?
Well, not every family is blessed with business nous, good relationships, or consistent goals. For many people, when it comes to business they would rather work with somebody a bit more neutral – removing an emotional tie – and others will want to forge their own success away from their family. Also, a lot of family members have different interests and passions, making it almost impossible to run a happy, successful business.
Should I aim to be like the Al Futtaims, Al Habtoors or Al Ghurairs of the world?
It’s good to aim high, but don’t expect that level of success. The majority of family businesses are very 
small and don’t encompass numerous companies. It might be worth putting together a long-term plan with realistic targets, starting with one company doing one thing, and not looking too far beyond that too quickly.
So it’s likely the business will stay small?
Not necessarily – it depends on the quality of the idea and the family members. Lots of families have grown and diversified, but just make sure you take the right steps if you’re looking to expand.
So, what should I be careful about?
There’s a long list of things to be aware of. Check the legality of the set-up, possible exit strategies that won’t upset others, the knowledge gaps that need to be filled by non-family, the power structure, the pay structure, the professional boundaries, each person’s role and responsibility, succession issues, and others.
Will our family relationships suffer?
It’s a big issue within family businesses. Some relationships do suffer, which is why you have to be careful about drawing business and personal lines. You know your family well, and can probably communicate with them in a different way to non-family members, but you’re emotionally tied to them, which could lead to heightened passions and the inability to detach from work.
I’ve been put off.
Don’t disregard it so fast! There are loads of advantages. You can get things done more quickly, there could be greater solidarity, authenticity and trust, and there is lots more control in your hands as a collective unit. If you play it right, a family business can be a huge success. |
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Networking 3> IPM PM D Dubai b i 2013 WHEN: 17-19 November WHERE: Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: If your business requires green fingers, then the International Plants Expo Middle East could be the event for you. All things horticultural are on the agenda here, with industry professionals invited to visit or exhibit their wares. Plants, greenhouses, green technologies, new products, suppliers, and landscape designers will all be on show.
1> Dubai International Motor Show WHEN: 5-9 November WHERE: Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: More than 100,000 motor trade enthusiasts and trade professionals from across the globe are expected to attend the Dubai Motor Show, which has a track record of hosting prestigious product launches. New models, parts, accessories and more will be on display, with networking opportunities aplenty.
4> SIAL Middle East 2013 WHEN: 24-26 November WHERE: Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Centre WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Food, drink, hospitality and foodservice industries are at the centre of SIAL Middle East. This B2B event will feature more than 1,000 food, beverage and equipment companies from more than 40 countries around the world, with an eye on new trends and innovations for the region.
5> 1st Global Islamic Economy Summit 2>> Sweets 2 Sweetts and Snacks Middle East 2013
WHEN: 25-26 November WHERE: Madinat Jumeirah WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Policy makers, stakeholder and leading thinkers on the global Islamic economy will gather in Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah to discuss the $4tr industry. The summit will address the six pillars of an Islamic economy – halal travel, halal food, halal lifestyle, Islamic finance, SME development and Islamic economy infrastructure.
WHEN: 17-19 November WHERE: Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Various aspects of the sweets and snack industry are catered for at this event, from production through to consumption. This is a great place to source food and packaging options, as well as meet potential partners or collaborators. 
HASHTAGS IN BUSINESS: A how to guide HASHTAGS HAVE BECOME A CRITICAL WAY TO COMMUNICATE AND LINK INFORMATION EVERYWHERE FROM PINTEREST, TO FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. MILA ARAUJO DEMYSTIFIES HASHTAGS AND EXPLAINS HOW BUSINESS CAN BECOME MORE EFFICIENT BY USING THEM. ashtag explanation made easy Let’s face it, hashtags are throwing business people off. The best way I can explain a hashtag is that it is a critical way of grouping information together, almost like a file folder. If you opened your filing cabinet and wanted to find everything about dogs, you would click on #dogs. But the search results might be too large. So, you might then want to create a new hashtag or find one in use that specifies the type of dog, for example #JRT , #JackRussell, or even #Puppy. The cool thing about hashtags is that you can combine them, 
so if you put all of the above in one tweet, or post on Facebook, you will be indexed in with the related items in all three categories.
Look at the other hashtags being used as well. Create a list for yourself of hashtags that you would be a part of, and start using them.
How do you use a hashtag for business? First, you need to identify where your posts or subject fits in. Chances are there is already a hashtag being used for your area of communication. Find someone who is already active in your field, and then see what hashtags they are using. If you see one you like, click on it. A new list will open in your Twitter, or Facebook or Google+ that will only include all posts with the given hashtag.
Why are hashtags important? The beauty of a hashtag is that it brings you into the communication lines of people you don’t know. When you post without hashtags, you access the people you already know. But when you use hashtags, you get the following benefits: • You make your information searchable by anyone • You appear in the stream of the hashtag in question • You meet new people |
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Searching other hashtags will help you establish your own.
• You find new resources • You discover new opportunities • You help people keep track of your relevant posts • Build an audience and community • Cut through the clutter Hashtags also help people sort through a series of posts to zoom in on what is important to them. For example, if you go to my instagram page, you will find photos of soccer, food, scenery, and business. Let’s say you only care about pictures of my puppy. Well, you’ll click on the custom hashtag and you will just see the results from the photos I tagged with my custom hashtag. Custom hashtags make it easy for people to get through all the junk out there. Whether it be on one page, or throughout the social networks. In business for example, I can create a hashtag for insurance, but what will make it easier for people looking to save money on home
“Share the hashtage with valuable and relevant information.” insurance is if I tag a series of posts #Home #Insurance #savings or #homesavings combined with #insurance. Starting to see the possibilities? Number one rule for hashtags & brands: Be consistent Sometimes you can use a hashtag, and then no one else uses it. So you can get discouraged and think, I won’t use this anymore. Don’t do that. If your hashtag is well thought out, and you want it to stick, keep using it. Everything takes time. Be patient, keep posting items with your hashtag.
Introduce others to your hashtag by sharing their posts using your hashtag For example, let’s say you find an article that is hashtagged and it is in an area that your own readers (or prospective readers) would find interesting Share the post keeping the original hashhtags and originators identity (don’t delete the source – thats poor etiquette). And add on your hashtags. People who find the article interesting in the original group may also notice the additional hashtags added, and click through to see what’s going on there. They may not check out the other hashtags at first, but eventually if they see the hashtags often enough they will investigate. If they like what they find, or want to contribute to those “files”, then they may adopt the hashtags. Don’t give up, be consistent, share the hashtag with valuable and relevant information and people will start to join you in your “hashtag community”
About the author: Focused on leadership, branding, employee engagement, non-profit and social media policy, Mila Araujo is often cited and speaks at events and conferences. She contributes to a number of internet sites, including Social Media Today, Business 2 Community, 12 Most, Grow, The Online SafeHouse, and maintains her own blog, Perspectives. She is currently working on a book social on media policy. 
NO BUSINESS CAN THRIVE WITHOUT EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN ITS LEADERSHIP AND STAFF. WE LOOK AT HOW YOU CAN INTERACT WITH YOUR EMPLOYEES FOR THE BENEFIT OF YOUR COMPANY.
BE ACTIVE IN THE COMPANY To have good communication with your employees, you need to have a relationship. And to have a relationship, you need to have a presence. Whether its continual, or occasional, it’s important to be active in the company and be part of what’s happening on the floor. People will respect you more and you’ll respect them more, making it easier to speak openly and giving you both a better understanding of each other’s roles.
BE CLEAR AND CONCISE If you want people to understand you, don’t make
what you’re saying complex. Don’t risk them getting lost in a whirlpool of words, jargon, processes and technicalities. Quite often, keeping things short and sweet is the best way to communicate. Other instances might require longer, more in-depth explanations, but using simple language will mean that whoever you’re talking to will have a better chance of understanding you.
LISTEN Communication is a two way thing. It’s not just about telling people things, it’s also about listening. Good leaders don’t close their eyes and ears to others,
especially when their business is small and needs everybody to work well together and in the same direction. Listen to ideas, grievances, feedback, and create a dialogue with your team.
EXPLAIN DECISIONS You can make the best decisions known to the business world, but without explaining the ideas behind them, your employees won’t be able to carry them forward in the best way possible. Employees should be afforded the respect of knowing why you’re taking the company in a certain direction, or why you’ve introduced some new technology. |
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+RZWR COMMUNICATE WITH STAFF They are the guardians of your business, after all.
ESTABLISH A VISION If your team has a clear vision to work towards, life will be much easier for everybody. Communicating this vision to them will allow them to understand their role and how it contributes to the business’s success. Be sure to always tell them if the vision changes – that way they can adapt to the new situation, and will feel respected in the process.
UNDERSTAND THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO SPEAK TO ABOUT SPECIFIC THINGS Your employees have been hired for certain purposes. It’s important you know who does what. It’s also important to know each person’s character and – to a certain degree, at least – their personal circumstances. That way you can approach them in the most effective, sympathetic and productive way.
CREATE A CULTURE Employee engagement is a key aspect of building a strong business, and the best way to engage your team is to establish a positive and supportive culture. Freedom to express themselves
Giving a clear message is vital if you want your employees to understand you.
within established boundaries will encourage them to feel connected to the company, take ownership of their roles, and communicate what they believe to be the best way forward.
ENSURE YOUR MESSAGE IS HEARD Feedback is an important part of the communication process.
Don't be afraid to commend people when they do something right
If people aren’t understanding the message you’re trying to put across, then you need to know about it. Whether you’re speaking, emailing, or even advertising, try to find out whether or not you’re hitting the mark. For long-term messages, staff surveys might be one way to establish whether you’re being heard loud and clear, while an open forum every week could be useful to ensure everybody is clear on what you’re trying to say or do.
RECOGNISE GOOD WORK It’s obviously important to communicate with staff when their work is not up to scratch, but it’s equally important to recognise the good work they do. Start-ups and SMEs need encouragement from outside the company, but encouragement inside the company fuels its employees. Don’t be afraid to commend people when they do something right – a positive and happy environment can work wonders.
Listening is as important a part of communication as talking.
UNDERSTAND BODY LANGUAGE The majority of what’s communicated isn’t verbal. There are studies which suggest only seven percent of communication involves words – the remaining 93 percent is visual. Eyes, arms, legs, feet, unintentional gestures, expressions – they can all tell you something about others, and tell others about you. If you can read people without talking to them, you will be able to understand whether they are unhappy, discontented, or absolutely delighted. 
YASER ABUSHABAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ASSET MANAGEMENT AT EMIRATES INVESTMENT BANK, EXAMINES THE RISKS FOR ENTREPRENEURS WHEN INVESTING THEIR WEALTH
aking an investment is like deciding to go on a road trip- you can choose your destination but often cannot choose which road will get you there. The short scenic route with few twists and turns does not always work; sometimes you have to take the long and winding road with more risk along the way. For most, making the safer investment, or taking the less winding road, is the preferred option. The entrepreneur forges his own path, however, taking on a
great deal of risk during his journey towards wealth creation. As an entrepreneur you have much more flexibility in choosing your own path, but more choices also imply more chances to make mistakes, hence the greater risk associated with entrepreneurship. A typical entrepreneur is a self-starter who has expertise in one particular field and will, therefore, concentrate his wealth into the business he’s building – it’s what he knows. The savvy entrepreneur builds wealth by taking chances but also knows that there are few ‘sure
things’ in life. Once successful at accumulating wealth, the smart entrepreneur recognises that, while his businesses remains the main sources of his wealth, prudence dictates that he not reinvest all of his wealth back into his business. Going from wealth creation to wealth preservation requires a more diversified approach to investing by the savvy entrepreneur, where he purposefully reinvests some of his wealth in areas not related to his business. Those building businesses typically engender that entrepre|
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YOUR WEALTH JOURNEY
neurial spirit often synonymous with risk. We see this spirit all over in the UAE, a country populated with entrepreneurs. They build their wealth by taking chances, and when the right times comes these entrepreneurs should seek professional advice on how to manage and preserve their wealth, and eventually transfer it to their children. RISK AND THE ENTREPRENEUR Wealth is created in the real economy, not in the financial markets, by entrepreneurs who build real businesses and find ways to add value to people’s lives. The UAE has a vibrant entrepreneurship landscape with huge potential for SMEs to participate in the growth of the nation’s economy. We believe that, once these entrepreneurs have accumulated some wealth, they are well advised to broaden their horizons towards other financial assets and not rely solely on their chosen business field. What we often see however is that entrepreneurs are quite comfortable at concentrating on their own businesses or business area because they believe that they have a deep understanding of the business and risks involved better than outsiders. Their level of familiarity and comfort with their businesses could lead to understating the risks involved with concentrating their wealth into a single business or business area. That is a bias that we try to protect investors against by urging them to diversify their accumulated wealth across asset classes. By using risk as a starting point to the investment process, an investor can allocate this risk budget among the best available opportunities. By doing so the investor can avoid many pitfalls of investing, or at the very least understand where the pitfalls come from, if they do occur. This process of identifying risk appetite and tailoring assets accordingly results in a diversified portfolio of investments that minimises the impact of negative shocks on the value of a portfolio. RISK AND THE MARKETS We have seen major swings in the willingness of high net worth individuals to take financial risks
Investors take different routes and look for different places to put their money.
"It became clear that risktaking behaviour is contagious." over the past five years. From the heydays of 2007 and early 2008 to post crisis downfall, it became apparent that risk-taking behaviour is contagious. This herd-like mentality dominated on both side of the risk taking spectrum – low and high. When risk-appetite was high precrisis, taking risk was made easier by seeing many others around you engaging is risky behaviour – as if an activity becomes less risky because more people engage in it. You and I know this does not make sense financially, however from a psychological standpoint, engaging in risky behaviour tends to be more acceptable when it is more common. On the other hand, those who got burned during the crisis sought refuge in safe assets and shunned risk - risk-taking was decried because others were less inclined. An objective non-emotional assessment of risk would have led a smart investor to take less risk when everyone else was rather
cavalier, and to take more risk when the majority were rather cautious. What we have seen around the world, and in Dubai specifically, demonstrates this mentality. In Dubai we saw how disregarding risk led to a speculative property bubble followed by economic and stock market recessions; a time when erstwhile cavalier investors shunned equity and real estate investments for the safety of cash deposited in banks, eventually missing the rebound in the equity and real estate markets that occurred in 2012 and 2013. INNOVATION AND DIVERSIFICATION Entrepreneurs understand how to innovate, create and build. They also understand taking risks. We intimately understand the role which risk plays in constructing an investment portfolio and that predicting the future is much less of a science and much more of an art. The worlds of economics and politics are intertwined, and markets are the collective sum of investors’ action - too big to predict with any level of consistent accuracy. Hence to manage the markets’ volatility and indeed our own human fallibility at predicting the future, investors need to adopt a diversified investment approach. 
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DESPITE THE NUMBER OF BUSINESSES ALREADY ON THE MARKET, THE UAE STILL OFFERS MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS. THE FOUNDERS OF NEW CANDLE SHOP, HOOOF, EXPLAIN HOW THEY PLAN TO EXPLOIT A NICHE OPPORTUNITY, AND WHY CANDLES CAN BECOME BIG BUSINESS. > By Neil King 
Hooof’s candles come in all shapes and sizes, and are made at a factory in Egypt before arriving in Dubai.
andles are big business, and they have been for thousands of years. Less a necessity now than they were in pre-electricity eras, the global market is still worth billions, with America alone selling $2.3bn of products every year. Yet despite the figures showing clear demand, the candle market is remarkably underdeveloped in the region. Often relegated to the corner of a homeware shop, candles in the UAE aren’t given the prominence they are in other parts of the world. But the tide is turning. A new showroom in Jumeriah, Dubai, has opened which elevates candles to luxury status. Hooof – so named to replicate the sound of blowing out a candle – was launched by Emirati entrepreneur duo Mohammed Al Marzouqi and Saeed Al Hinaai, young partners who have already established two other companies in Dubai and are always on the look-out for new opportunities. 
“We had already started two companies when the opportunity to work with candles came to us,” says Al Marzouqi. “We launched Lifeway Training, which does corporate training for government and individuals, and after that we started a character design cartoon company. My sister is very good with character design, so we wanted to support her talent as a different type of entrepreneur. “The candles idea came from a factory in Egypt which has been making candles for 35 years. Because of the political situation
“People had heard through word of mouth that we were opening, and were amazed by what they saw.”
there, their candles wouldn’t really do well there, so they were looking to establish a branch outside of Egypt. “When we heard about it, and the quality of the candles they make, it took us less than 24 hours to decide to go for it. Their candles are awesome, and the idea is unique for the area.” The duo reveal they faced stiff competition in securing a contract with the factory in Egypt, explaining that a Saudi prince also bid for the rights to sell the candles. But geography won the day. “They chose us because of Dubai, because it’s a brand in itself,” says Al Marzouqi.” Once they had secured the candles, Al Hinaai and Al Marzouqi set about building their company. They decided that it was vital to get the visual side of the business right, giving the brand an exclusive allure. “We had thought of different names before Hooof, but chose this one for two reasons,” says Al Marzouqi. |
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Designs can be elaborate.
“Firstly, it’s the sound you make when you blow out a candle, and secondly it’s a short name which is easy to brand. We thought that was a really important part of choosing the name, so we decided to go for it. “We have a designer who works with us to help with the store, and designing the candles as well. He always looks to do something different. He didn’t want the store to look like a shop, not like a house or a villa, or a company. He wanted the space to reflect the beauty of our candles. “He has been working on it and improving it constantly. We opened in August, but were actually supposed to open much sooner. The worth of the We delayed the opening candle market in because our designer was America alone. altering things and making it look just right. Even on the morning of the opening things were being changed! “Now people love the look of the shop. On our opening day lots of people came to see it. I was quite surprised, but it was really great. People had heard through word of mouth that we were opening, and were amazed by what they saw. The brand really has to work for us this way, so that people will talk about it.” The absence of a strong candle market has been a double-edged sword for Hooof. Having little competition gives them an immediate and distinct advantage, but it also means they need to Mohammed Al Marzouqi, co-founder of Hooof.
CANDLES educate people on the goods. “There is almost no candle market here,” says Al Marzouqi. “You mostly see them when you go to shops where the candles are a secondary thing – pushed to the side. There aren’t really candle shops in Dubai. “But this is a place for new ideas. People here are open to different concepts, especially when it comes to luxury items. The number of “When you talk about businesses the candles, there are so many partners different varieties, so many different styles and already own types. All of our candles are handmade, and we can do any design, any shape – it’s really up to the customer. We have lots of ways of making them – one technique means you can have a candle which melts on the inside but not the outside; another lets the candle last for a certain amount of time; another allows you to pick the scents. If you want to have a strawberry smell for the first ten days, and then coffee for the next ten days, then we can do that. “Any shape, size, smell, we can do it. People are starting understand the amount we can do.” The designs on display in the showroom are inspired by the global candle market, with traditional Spanish and French candles sitting alongside those designed in-house. Al Marzouqui explains that special occasions will also be catered for, with Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and UAE National Day allowing for specially crafted candles to go on sale. Plus, there’s an extra edge to the business. “We don’t just sell candles. We do event management and inte-
“All of our candles are handmade, and we can do any design, any shape it’s really up to the customer.” Saaed Al Hinaai, co-founder of Hooof. 
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Al Marzouqi and Al Hinnai spent a lot of time with their designer to ensure the showroom looked as good as possible.
rior design. We don’t just recommend the candles but also work with them to do the whole design. We want to deliver a full service to customers, not just for them to buy candles from us.” As Emirati entrepreneurs, the duo are quick to express their gratitude for the support they have received in establishing their businesses. “We’re from the UAE and we’ve had great support from everybody. It’s been a real benefit for us, and we’re thankful for it. “Saeed is a manager at du and I’m a pilot for Etihad Airways, but we’ve both always thought of other ideas that we found interesting. We’re friends from high school, and we have ideas from a lot of different fields. Most of all we shared a desire to start something new. “Our friends gave us the idea for Lifeway, which started things off for us. Dubai is developing very fast and training is a very important field to develop the country. It’s been especially good for us as it’s helped us grow, as well as helping people around us and across
Customers can be as creative as they like with their design requests.
the UAE. “It’s a challenge to balance everything. It’s definitely not easy. We’re not leading a normal life. Our jobs need a lot of attention and effort, and we’ve had to sacrifice a few things, but we never regret it.
Starting Lifeways with their own savings, Al Marzouqi and Al Hinaai risked a lot to follow their business dreams, and they believe more people need to take the leap and do the same. Al Marzouqui says: “A lot of people want to do something 
“My father doesn’t know how to work a computer, yet his son is flying planes.” different. They have the feeling but they don’t find a way to do it. It is hard, but there are a lot of opportunities to be taken and people need to take their chance. “Starting Lifeways with our savings was very risky because we put everything we had into it, but we are young and this is the perfect time to take a risk. We are positive people and we believe we can succeed. “We want to make Hooof a successful brand and grow it across the region. The Middle East is our target – Dubai is just the start. Three companies is just The factory in Egypt the beginning for us and has made candles we’re only on step one.” for 35 years. Their confidence echoes that of the UAE in general, where the number of companies continues to increase and diversify. Al Marzouqi says he can be positive in the future of Hooof because of the rate of change the UAE has experienced in recent years. “We are 42 years old as a country. When you compare that we places like Egypt, the UK and America, where they have had hundreds of years of history, we are doing very well. “We’ve had less time to develop, but even so what the UAE has achieved in that time is incredible. Things have changed in just a generation. My father doesn’t know how to use a computer, yet his son is flying planes and opening companies using technology. It’s such a big change in a short space of time, which is really hard for a country to absorb. “But if a country to do it, then we as individuals can do it. So I’m hopeful that we can succeed.” The duo plan to launch more businesses in the coming years.
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INVENTOR, SCIENTIST, ENTREPRENEUR, UNESCO GOODWILL AMBASSADOR AND SHURA COUNCIL MEMBER HAYAT SINDI IS A ROLE MODEL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE GULF. THE SAUDI NATIONAL SPEAKS EXCLUSIVELY TO ARABIAN BUSINESS ABOUT THE FEAR OF FAILURE AND HOW HER PASSION TO SUCCEED KEEPS DRIVING HER FORWARD. ayat Sindi has made a habit of breaking new ground in whatever endeavour she puts her mind to. The Saudi-born medical scientist has been trailblazing since she embarked on her first quest, as an ambitious teenager speaking no English but with a passion for science, to study in the UK. Her career has been marked by a succession of accolades as her research into diagnostics and biotechnology, and her inventions, have been heralded internationally. The first Saudi and female scientist to become a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for sciences, this year Sindi added to her achievements an historic selection as one of the first tranche of 30 women to be appointed to Saudi Arabia’s Consultative Assembly, or Shura Council, which is the formal advisory body to King Abdullah. But for the woman named by influential US magazine Newsweek as one of 150 Women Who Shook the World last year, her focus these days is on mentoring the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs through her fellowship programme, the i2 Institute.
“In the Middle East people are tired from hearing that we don’t have inventors,” Sindi, who has taken time out of a three-day training workshop at PwC in Dubai, says. “We have lots of TV shows about Arab Idol and music and things, but we need to celebrate something else, we need to celebrate the brains.” Sindi says scientific entrepreneurship as a concept in the Middle East is quite new. “What is based on science and technology is frightening, because people don’t want to touch that investment, they want to touch something they understand,” she says. “It’s understandable and logical — if you have money you want to put it where you know best and science and technology was for so long far away from us. However, she bemoans that what was once a great pioneering region now suffers from a “fear” of starting companies. Sindi points to recent research, which said that 51 percent of respondents to a survey cited fear as their major reason for not launching their own firms. “First we don’t have the business skills in starting business in science and technology,” Sindi says, frankly. “Second: the venture capital culture is
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SCIENCE quite new, and third: there is no encouragement from the social [side]. “If you fail, if you want advice… it’s something new. Nobody can give you support. So, we need something like this to exist.” Through i2, which stands for ImaginaThe age at which tion and Ingenuity, Sindi left Saudi Sindi says that six Arabia to study inaugural fellows in the UK chosen from around the Middle East have been offered a “platform” to turn their inventions into potential commercial successes through an intense training and development programme. Offering them business skills, and perhaps more importantly, confidence, Sindi says the aim is to customise their product as well as “build the bridge” between investors and what is essentially raw inventing talent. At the PwC workshop, for example, the focus is on areas such as developing a business plan, idea commercialisation, financial modelling and strategy development. At the end of the programme is a chance to present their ideas to investors at a conference. “If people want to start something they can have a quick, successful story,” Sindi explains. “For us the success is how, like Sindi believe scietific developments suffers in the region due to lack of investment. you, the whole region understands the need for entrepreneurship in “What happens if their invention science and technology. didn’t get any investors? Would they “The goal is not a start-up go cry in a corner? No. We need company. The goal is how are them to breed more [ideas] and we going to educate and give the need them to understand this is the people the chance to be in that world.” role, a chance for creativity.” A successful inventor in her own However, the eagerness to right, Sindi’s first venture came succeed is key and the selection when she founded the company criteria is tough. From a possible Synoptix and developed, with 12 available positions, only six Saudi seed funding, a diagnostic applicants — from Saudi Arabia, tool used for the early detection of Palestine, Syria and Egypt — made breast cancer. the cut. Her next start-up, another diagDuring the interview process nostic tool used to detect certain she looked for a combination of illnesses and medical problems health, water and environment. “passion, creativity and determinasuch as liver failure, was devel“You can get people to be tion”. oped with a group of scientists at educated at the best universities In addition, they needed to have in the world. But how many of Harvard University through the sound, patentable ideas that fit into them then aspire to change the self-funded, not-for-profit organithe four categories represented by world?” Sindi asks. “You need that sation: Diagnostics For All (DFA). investors in i2 Institute — energy, mentality.” More recently, Sindi has contin-
“What happens if their invention didn’t get any investors? Would they go cry in a corner? No.”
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Technology is ripe for advancement in the Middle East, according to Sindi.
ued to work on the patent for a portable MRI scanner while working to roll out DFA in Africa soon. However, while Sindi’s science ability is enviable she admits her business acumen in those early days fell short. “It was really hard,” she says of starting Synoptix after completing a PhD in biotechnology at the University of Cambridge — another first for a female in the Gulf region. “This is a great invention for the early detection of breast cancer. [But] biotechnology is very risky, though the reward is high. “So it was really hard to find the right seed money to get the right incubator in England, to find the team, because it was quite a lot of money. “I also didn’t have the business skills before, so I didn’t know how to get the team, I didn’t know how I can get the business model.” On the urging of a respected professor, Sindi went on to complete a two-year degree in the Commercialisation of Science and Technology at Harvard Business School.
The i2 Institute aims to give people a platform to achieve their dreams.
Through her company Synoptix, Sindi has aided early detection of breast cancer. 
SCIENCE But it was those tough early days with Synoptix that inspired the i2 Institute. “That’s why I started it,” she explains. “When I started to invent things, people won’t believe you here, because it’s something new for them. And also, when you are abroad, they won’t invest in you, they will invest in their own people they know. “So, you’re in the middle of the road and you don’t know where to go and it’s very hard to keep going, except that you really have a huge, huge passion and drive. “From my experience I understand, you know, what do they need to be able to see their dream come true, to be able to give them the right access, the connections, the business skills, the platform and then it’s up to them how they make use of all these resources.” But she also knows there are no guarantees or easy routes to success. Sindi recalls having “one thousand or two thousand meetings” with a slew of investors over the course of her long scientific career. And, like any major company which is continually evolving, she says she is still having to convince people of her ideas. However, it is the approach to failure in science entrepreneurship which needed to change in the Middle East and be viewed, not as a negative, but as a learning curve. It’s a lesson she learnt when,
One of Sindi’s start-ups is a diagnostic tool to detect illnesses such as liver failure.
“I want them to be humble, I want them to be accessible and to grasp the chance of being with experts.” as part of the DFA team, she was asked by a funding panel to detail how many companies she had started and failed. Initially taken aback by the question, she answered honestly. She had failed twice. The first time was an Arabic teaching programme in the UK that didn’t work out, and the second was an electronics business that failed. Sindi, who took away the first
Sindi has been appointed to Saudi Arabia’s consultative assembly, the Shura Council. 
prize, says she later quizzed the panel member about that question. But his response was simple. “Straight away he said to me: ‘If you don’t fail there’s something wrong with you. I won’t trust you with the money, because if it’s the first time you’re handed cash, what will happen?’” With a self-described passion to make science affordable and accessible to everyone, Sindi is also teaching the fellows through a social science component of the course, how their talents can impact “every single human being”. “I want them to be humble, I want them to be accessible and also to grasp the chance of being with experts,” she says. To that end Sindi is relishing the role she took up last year as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, where she encourages young girls and women around the world to embrace science. “People want to see a role model,” she says. “When you ask them who is your hero as a scientist it’s always dead people like Einstein, like Newton. But we have wonderful people around us who do amazing work.” In another role, the pioneering scientist also describes her historic appointment to Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council as humbling, though a shock at first. “I was asleep, early morning they called me,” she recalls of how the Palace relayed the news. “I said ‘how can I help you’. [The Palace official] said ‘the king sends his regards and he has chosen you to be one of the 30 first women in the Shura ’. “So, I said to him ‘great news, thank you very much. So, what should I do’?” |
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Hayat Sindi “He laughed and he said ‘be who you are’.” Since January, when Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah announced the landmark move, Sindi says the position has given her a newfound appreciation for and perspective on the role of government and how the kingdom works. The percentage of “When I was appointed I had two types of friends: I women mandated had people from the west, to sit on the 150they think that’s great, I’m member Shura going to solve the world, Council women are going to solve the world, that’s great, go for it,” she says. “And people in Saudi Arabia think that being a woman in the Shura you’re going to solve all the problems for women. “But actually, you need to solve the problems for the whole nation. So, it’s very interesting how the west looks at it and how the east looks at it.” Sindi points out that with a mandated quota of 20 percent women on the 150-member Shura Council it is higher than even the US, which has 17 percent. “It was actually a new experi-
“You go back and advise what you’ve learnt, what your expertise is and how you see the whole world is going.”
Sindi revealed she has a newfound appreciation for the government.
ence for the king himself, for Saudi Arabia, for the world,” she says. “We didn’t know what to expect and that was a mixed feeling. But, now things have settled and more people understand your role.” Sindi , who is based between Saudi Arabia, the US and the UK, says the Shura Council meets two to three times a week where poli-
The i2 Institute encourages people to think outside the box.
cies are discussed and “everything is debated” before a vote. The Shura Council is permitted to propose draft laws, then the king has the power to pass or enforce them. “In the government, everything is important,” says Sindi. “You need to live, you need to have food, you need to have medical care, you need to have education, you need to have good roads.” Her time in the west, she says, has not diminished her connection to Saudi Arabia, and if anything now better informs her decisionmaking. “I’m very much in touch with, especially, the youth and the issues in my own country,” she says. “Living abroad, most of us have been educated abroad; you learn and then you go back and advise what you’ve learnt, what your expertise is and how you see the whole world is going, with deep understanding and the respect of your culture.” 
BIG DATA IS BIG NEWS. PREVIOUSLY THE PRESERVE OF LARGE ORGANISATIONS, SMES AND STARTUPS ARE BECOMING MORE ADEPT AT ANALYSING HUGE AMOUNTS OF DATA TO HELP GAIN AN ADVANTAGE IN BUSINESS. 
ata has grown exponentially in recent years. So much so that some commentators claim it could soon be as important to business as the internet has become. More data means more accurate analyses, meaning more confident decision making, cost effectiveness, reduced risk, and a better chance of success. Big data is essentially a collection of data sets so large and complex that traditional database management tools or processing applications struggle under their weight. The amount of data created in the past ten years is estimated to be 500 times the amount created throughout the rest of human history. And itâ€™s is getting faster, with the rate of data creation
expected to triple over the coming year. More than 500 million tweets are sent every day, five billion people are using mobile devices, VISA is processing more than 172 million card transactions daily, and Facebook has more than 1.15 billion active users. And it all contributes to big data. With so much data out there, the potential for improving business performance is huge. Research by Gartner found that businesses using big data outperform their competitors by about 20 percent, but at present only ten to fifteen percent of organisations are using it. Humans create about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, and until very recently it was only big companies who were able to use it. That changed in 2010 when Google BigQuery was |
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Big data allows you to access huge amounts of information which could help your business in various different ways.
launched, allowing companies to conduct analysis of massive datasets, giving them more defined and detailed targets of customers, and helping them create an effective marketing strategy. Among the benefits the analysis of big data can bring are the determination of root causes of failures, issues and defects in near-real time, calculation of risk portfolios within minutes, sending tailored recommendations to mobile devices while customers are in the right area so they can take advantage of offers, and much more. From little things such as the average size of an order, to big issues such as the detection of fraudulent behavior, big data can provide the information you need. With increasingly sophisticated and a higher numbers of ways to mine the information, big data is likely to snowball very quickly, but there are challenges. Firstly, it may be costly to access the information you need. Then where do you store it? How do you analyse it all? How
''Companies who are shying away from big data could quickly be left behind.'' do you establish which data points are most important to you, and how do you optimise its use? Thereâ€™s also the question of resistance. As it grows, will people rebel against providing data? Perhaps people will object to providing every last scrap of their personal information, or perhaps the public will look to sell it rather than provide it for free, knowing how valuable it can be to companies. With data collected from mouse-clicks, purchases, location, movement, and just about every other move we make, the time may come when people say enough is
enough. But until that point, there is a lot for SMEs to gain from tracking peopleâ€™s behavior. Practical steps that SMEs can take to gather information are unlikely to include finding and analysing the data themselves. The processes can be complex, so it may be better to outsource the job, giving detailed explanations of what you want to find from the data. The three Vs of volume, variety and veracity make it difficult for the layman to make sense of big data, so itâ€™s usually best to leave it to the experts. What is becoming clear is that companies who are shying away from big data could quickly be left behind. Those SMEs and startups with loose structures, vague customer profiles, and generalised marketing campaigns are bound to lose out to opponents who can pinpoint their targets and move confidently with the statistics to back them up. Big data is big news, and it keeps getting bigger. 
THE URBAN YOGI RETAIL
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WITH DREAMS OF FOLLOWING HER PASSION FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND INTERIOR DESIGN, NISHA VARMAN SHETTY LAUNCHED HOMEWARE STORE THE URBAN YOGI. SHE DISCUSSES THE CHALLENGES SHE FACED IN BRINGING A NEW BRAND TO THE MARKET, AND HOW SHE PLANS TO DIVERSIFY HER BUSINESS. > By Neil King
“The sustainability market is still very new and very young here, so there needs to be more education.” 
THE URBAN YOGI
f you’ve been to Mercato Mall in Dubai during the past year, you may have noticed a colourful new addition The Urban Yogi’s pop-up store has been there since October 2012, giving entrepreneur Nisha Varman Shetty her first physical presence as she looks to bring something different to the region’s homeware market. With a focus on design and sustainability, The Urban Yogi aims to provide an alternative for customers who - as Shetty says - want to “look good and do good”. Shetty, who co-founded digital media company Clique Media with her husband, explains that moving house with her young family drove her to look for new options when it came to decorating in the style that she wanted. She says: “We started Clique Media, but I wanted to pursue something more creative by myself. I didn’t know what initially, and the name actually came to me first, back in 2009. I wasn’t sure what the concept would be, so I left it for a while. “Then, when I was going to give birth to our first child, we moved to a bigger house. I loved doing decor,
but I just couldn’t find the things I wanted to use. There was a certain style that was missing in the UAE. “There are lots of branded shops, but they don’t appeal, so I thought this was an opportunity to do something about it. It was a chance to bring brands to the Middle East from other parts of the world.” With an initial budget of AED40k, Shetty set about making her dream come true. Inspired by shops such as Anthropologie in Australia, she went on her first sourcing expedition. “Everybody had to start somewhere, and I brought some brands from India that are really sought after. We had a stall for four days at the Ramadan market at the Dubai Ladies Club and we had a great response, so we decided to take it further and make a real go of it. “I look for really great brands that you just can’t get here, such as Goodearth in India. We cast our net really wide to find the best items from various parts of the world.” Initially setting up online, through e-commerce sites Tejuri.com and Wysada.com, Shetty wanted to ensure her prospective customers could not only view The Urban Yogi’s ever-growing range at its e-store, but also get up close and personal to the pieces too.
She identified a number of malls in Dubai which she hoped would welcome her concept, but before long got a harsh lesson in retail. “When I went to pitch the idea to the malls, it quickly become evident that the bigger malls only wanted bigger names and established brands. They just weren’t interested. They would often say that if you’re not already in another mall and well established, then we won’t let you in. It was a serious wake-up call about the way things work here. “So we looked at smaller malls that we really liked, and talked to Mercato. It’s not part of a bigger chain, so the people we spoke to were much more supportive. “They’ve been really great to us from the very beginning.” The pop-up store was initially granted a one-month trial at Mercato Mall in October last year, and the company’s reach grew two months later, as Marina Mall invited her to open a pop-up store from December to March this year. “That opened up a lot of opportunities for us,” explains Shetty. “There are different people in different parts of Dubai, so it was great to have exposure in different parts of town. “Both of these environments work very well for The Urban Yogi. They |
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Nisha Varman Shetty may be different, but they are both our target market - women in their late twenties to fourties who are educated and well traveled.” Selling desirable pieces to an eager market is only part of the idea behind the business, however. To Shetty, sustainability is key She explains: “The Middle East does very well in luxury, but a lot of the big brands don’t give anything back. From the very beginning I wanted a philosophy that had sustainability at the core. I wanted The Urban Yogi to give something back to the artisans who make the pieces we sell. “We want to be a platform for the unsung heroes who don’t get the appreciation they deserve.” The items Shetty finds come from destinations as diverse as India, Australia, Bali, the US, and - soon Lebanon. With a sourcing trip every quarter, lasting two to three weeks at a time, she aims to talk to the people who provide the stock, ensuring sustainability is truly in place. “I try to do all my research and leg work long before going away, so that I can spend my time actually getting what I need while I’m there as well as building relationships,” she says. There’s also an educational aspect to the business, attempting to make people more aware of sustainability. She adds: “We try to give a lot of information on our Facebook page, and when I’m at the store I try to explain the difference between handcrafted and mass produced.” But despite her best efforts, she comes up against a lot of resistance. “I struggle with customers who have branded bags on their arm but then complain about the price of something handcrafted. They wouldn’t question it if it was a big brand, or worn by a celebrity. “People say ‘shouldn’t it be cheaper if it’s been made in India?’ Which I find unbelievable and totally wrong. They don’t see the artistic skill that’s been painstakingly put into it. It takes so much more time and effort to do what these artisans do. “The sustainability market is still very new and very young here, so there needs to be more education. The expats here are more educated about these things, so it is spreading, but I think it might still take a quiet little revolution.” That said, customer numbers have grown, despite the summer months and Ramadan provided Shetty 
THE URBAN YOGI
with a steep learning curve. “We’re really happy to have had a lot of support and some busy months, but Ramadan was really hard. It was an eye opener. We need to figure out how to sustain ourselves through these periods - we can’t just choose which months we work in, and take a back seat in the others. That’s not how a brand is built.” Being from a media background, the knowhow of building a brand was something Shetty was confident she could implement well. “My background definitely helps. Knowing how to get feedback and spread the word has given us a good start. We do all the content on Facebook ourselves, and all of our ‘likes’ are organically built. We talk to the customers as much as we can - we want that connection. “When people visit The Urban Yogi, we want them to connect with it. They should feel optimistic and hopeful - that’s very important to me. And the support we’ve had so far shows that it’s working.” For all the positive aspects of Shetty’s journey so far, there have been plenty of difficulties too. With a wry smile, she admits that “everybody dreams of opening a decoration store, or a cafe, but when you actually start the business all the little nuances come out of the woodwork”. Listing a few examples, she says: “First of all, retail is all about long hours, especially when you start and don’t have a team around you. When the pop-up was launched, I was 
standing at the mall for ten to twelve hours. That was a rude awakening. “The second thing is logistics. All of a sudden we were dealing with 20 foot containers. We didn’t have a warehouse at that point, so everything arrived at our home. “Boxes needed to be opened, unpacked, organised, risk managed, stored, and so on. For somebody with no background in retail or logistics, this was a big learning curve. “Then there are numerous things such as the hiring process, registering the company, finding a good local partner, and more.” But according to Shetty, the pros of entrepreneurship outweigh the cons. “There are lots of challenges that come your way, but overall it’s not bad. Things are made much easier if you have a good local partner, which we do, because you can get things done more quickly. Life can be good for entrepreneurs here, and Dubai seems is very accommodating.” Having had such a strong first year, Shetty is clear about her plans
“When you actually start a business all the little nuances come out of the woodwork.”
for the next few years, aiming to diversify The Urban Yogi to be more than just interior design. She says: “I want it to grow into a bigger lifestyle brand. There will be a yoga studio, a cafe, and maybe more. But all in good time. “2013 was the year of having constant presence. We’ve achieve that by being in Mercato, and by being online for so long now. “2014 will be the year of the flagship store. We want a bigger space to showcase everything we have, which is currently in a warehouse. Our virtual space is something we’ve invested in, but we’ve got so many pieces what we want to get out there for people to see. We’re looking again at Mercato or Marina Mall - that would be great for us. “Then in 2015 we’re looking at regional expansion. There’s a possibility of Qatar and Abu Dhabi. Growing across the region is something we’re definitely looking to do.” Talking with Shetty it’s evident she is a clear thinker who has identified her aims and goals. So what advice would she give to others who are looking to make their mark? “Just start,” is the simple answer. “A lot of people have great ideas but don’t take themselves seriously enough. Start-ups have to start somewhere, and I firmly believe that if people have a good idea then they should just do it. If you have to learn a lot along the way, then so be it, but if you don’t start, you’ll never do what you dream of doing.” |
vol. 2 /november 2013
FIT FOR BUSINESS SMES
FIGHTING FIT WITH THE SME SECTOR SO VITAL TO THE ECONOMY OF THE UAE, IT’S IMPORTANT BUSINESSES HAVE THE RIGHT KIND OF SUPPORT. STARTUP SAT DOWN WITH LIAM MOONEY, FOUNDER OF PRIVATE MEMBERS BUSINESS CLUB, FIT FOR BUSINESS, TO TALK ABOUT HOW THE GROUP AIMS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO THE COUNTRY’S SMES, AND WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE FOR THE SECTOR TO TRULY THRIVE. By Neil King
vol. 2 /november 2013
FIT FOR BUSINESS
‘No man is an island’, reads the famous phrase by the poet John Donne. And the same can be said for SMEs. It might only take an individual to develop a good idea, but without the support of mentors, experts or peers, their chances of success are dramatically reduced. One network group offering such support is Fit For Business - an organisation established to provide corporates with guidance, community and networking opportunities, built on the best practices of sport and the military. The private members business club was founded by Dubai-based businessman Liam Mooney, the man who is also behind prominent legal recruitment company Blue Pencil, as well as the Dubai Rugby Business Network. It was the rugby connection which led Mooney to explore the possibility of setting up a network for the UAE’s SME community. He explains: “I could see that the common theme from this group was that SMEs needed support and guidance by consensus. I wanted to do something to help the SME forum, and hence formed Fit For Business. “There was a lot of camaraderie between people in the group, and a real passion for support, and I felt there was more that could be done. “We already had contacts with Blue Pencil to start up a network, but that was only in the legal industry. Fit for business was for the whole SME sector, so it was a bit more of a challenge.” Aimed at getting corporates fit by using the best practices of sport and the military, Mooney explains the organisation serves as a support function, with members signing up to take advantage of its benefits. “When you become part of the network and part of the website, your details go online and you can see each other and what everybody can SMEs account for offer everybody else,” 60 percent of the he says. UAE’s economy “People have questions such as ‘who is a good website developer?’ and ‘how do you get a bank loan’, and there are people in the network who can help with practical advice. Every
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Liam Mooney single member is vetted and can only come on board if they are of value to the group.” The support system doesn’t stop at connecting individuals. There are also regular talks on relevant topics to the SME sector, as well as networking events where members can share contacts, businesses ideas, and areas in which they need support. There is also a business concierge service, and a series of modules run by industry leaders, on areas such as legal advice, social media, recruitment, and management. Fit For Business also has an array of global ambassadors, including Welsh rugby star Dafydd James, former CEO and COO of Rangers Football Club, Craig Mather, and Mark Ormrod - the former Royal Marine Commando who lost three limbs while serving in Afghanistan in 2007, and has completed a number of charity runs in the US and UK, despite being told he would never walk again. “We wanted to get inspirational figures on board,” says Mooney. “People that SMEs can really learn something from. “Fit For Business is completely non-profit - we just want to offer support, recommendations, inspiration, and share ideas. There’s real value in connecting people, and that’s at the core of what we do.” Having been part of the SME landscape since arriving in the UAE with Blue Pencil in 2005, Mooney has seen the highs and lows of business in the Emirates. His experiences have given him a clear understanding of the challenges SMEs face not only when that are set up, but also as they look to survive and grow. “I have fifteen years of experience as an SME, and about eight years experience of the UAE, and I believe that the SME sector really suffers from lack of information. Certainly a lack of correct information and knowledge. “There are so many mixed messages coming out from people that we want to unify the messages and provide more clarity and support. We feel there is an element of exploitation of SMEs and many good ideas are being killed before they get off the ground. “There isn’t much in the way of support and you can end up chas-
Members who join Fit For Business have access to all other members’ information.
ing your tail for simple things. “Banks have a major role in this. It’s so difficult for an SME to open an account here. Why do they have minimum turnover levels, for example? It’s not like corporates are asking for a loan. “Banks need to be more supportive and one of our aims is to put more collective pressure on them to see the huge opportunity they are missing.” Mooney reveals that the “biggest headaches” Fit For Business hears about from its members are connected to recruitment and management. “Both of these areas can learn from the sporting world,” he says. “I.e. how do the best teams recruit successfully and how do their leaders motivate the people within the team. “Leadership is very poor in this part of the world. To be honest it’s not just the GCC, it’s a global thing. “Good management requires vision, good decision making, clarity in terms of development, respect and empathy towards the team, and creating the best environment - all set within clear and transparent boundaries so if any member falls outside these rules there is a discipline mechanism. “Ideally it should be the goal of every company to create an environment where no one wants
“It’s the nature of SMEs to look at where the opportunities are and move on them .” to leave you and everyone wants to join. Staff turnover is a very common complaint in the UAE and in my opinion that’s because the management of staff falls well short of the standards we should see. “A happy, healthy motivated team is a very productive and profitable one!” In terms of recruitment, Mooney draws on his own experience with Blue Pencil. “We are like anyone else in the network and seek support, contacts and people that want to utilise our services. If you get recruitment wrong it has been shown statistically that the average overall cost is more than $50,000.” With so many entrepreneurial initiatives across the UAE, Mooney believes the government does a good job in trying to offer support, but maintains that there is a lack of leadership for the sector. 
FIT FOR BUSINESS “The government tries to take responsibility, but there’s no real leadership there,” he says. “At least not enough. “If they took it on a bit more, it would really benefit them. People don’t just need advice - they need practical advice and guidance. They need to be linked up to people with experience. It’s not cheap setting up a company in the UAE and you could lose a lot of money if you’re not talking to the right people. “That’s the gap that we’re trying to bridge. We’re trying to give people these things and build a stronger, more informed sector.” While Mooney can identify the numerous issues and challenges facing SMEs in the UAE, he is adamant that their position in the economy will get stronger and stronger. “The future for SMEs is really bright,” he says. “There are huge opportunities, and more people should take the leap and start an SME, however scared they might be to do it. “SMEs are the future of the UAE economy. They have the freedom to think, can move a lot more quickly on an idea, and can take decisions more quickly. “It’s the nature of SMEs to look at where the opportunities are and move on them. Huge companies don’t have the ability to do this so quickly.” His own experience with Blue Pencil confirms his assertion that smaller businesses can maneuver more swiftly at crucial times, having successfully guided it through the worst years of the recession. He continues: “It happened to us in recruitment. Look at Hayes. They are a huge company, and they got hit really hard by the recession. They are a big company and couldn’t steer the ship out of troubled waters very quickly. “We could turn around and get ourselves sorted in just a few months. We had the ability to move quickly, which was a massive advantage.” More than anything else, Mooney believes SMEs will give the UAE the edge it’s looking for in years to come. He adds: “SMEs contributes more than 60 percent of the UAE’s economy. It’s huge. To maintain its comparative advantage it’s 
Mooney believe leadership and recruitment are areas which need to be improved.
important that the UAE continues to improve through education, innovation, research and high level service. “This drive will come from the SME sector.” A UK qualified solicitor, Cambridge University graduate and former professional rugby player, representing London Irish, Exeter, Cambridge University, Ireland A and the Barbarians, Mooney is no stranger to high achievement and providing value. Entering the business world in 2001, he has founded not only Fit For Business and Blue Pencil, but is also owner or part-owner of education consultancy Tamesis, and Anglo-Chinese politics and business consultancy CBI Portae, which is heavily involved with the new Shanghai Free Zone.
It sounds like a difficult balancing act, but Mooney certainly doesn’t see it that way. “I always played sport to a relatively high level while continuing my education, and could always prioritise. I love business and making new connects, so I don’t really see what I do as a job, or juggling. “Every day I wake up feeling excited about what the day can bring, so there’s no juggling at all. “I like being busy, and if I can do something to help others, then I’m happy. Money doesn’t motivate me at all really - I just want to contribute in a way that gives people value.” Membership details and benefits can be found at www.fit4businessclub.com |
vol. 2 /november 2013
SHAHRAM SAFAI, PARTNER AT AFRIDI & ANGELL, EXAMINES HOW TO MAINTAIN A GOOD BALANCE BETWEEN FOUNDER CONTROL IN THE WAKE OF INVESTMENT FROM VENTURE CAPITALISTS.
t some stage in the growth of a start-up, the founder entrepreneurs of a company will realise their need for venture capital money in order to grow the company. The task will be to attract such money while still maintaining a certain level of founder control and protection. Achieving such a balance necessitates understanding the terms that venture capitalists will try to negotiate to wrestle control of the Company.
First, and foremost, a venture capitalist will attempt to obtain more control by negotiating the valuation of the start-up company. In essence, this is a discussion of price: how much will the venture capitalist pay for what percentage of the company? Negotiations will ensue on the price. A venture capitalist may ask what valuation the company is seeking or may volunteer a ballpark figure for pricing. The lower the valuation, the more shares (and hence more control) |
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the venture capitalist gets for his investment. Venture capitalists will often base their valuation on other deals done which are favourable in valuation to them. As a founder entrepreneur, obtaining information on comparable companies that have received venture capital financing will be critical in negotiating. At the end of the day, a fair, reasonable valuation needs to be negotiated.
Once the valuation is agreed, venture capitalists will likely focus on the rights attached to the shares that he or she is to receive. The more the rights, the more control the venture capitalist has over the company. Some of the super rights that venture capitalists desire in order to exert greater control over a company are protective voting rights, liquidation preference and board seats.
ers, the higher the payout negotiated by a venture capitalist on a liquidation event, the more control the venture capitalist may attempt to exert to treat the company as a speculative investment to be sold quickly to realise a short term return, with less consideration for longer term growth prospects and opportunities. As a result, founders should carefully negotiate the liquidation preference.
PROTECTIVE VOTING RIGHTS In many cases, protective voting rights mean that the venture capitalists has a veto over (i.e. can prevent): issuance of any better shares than those issued to the venture capitalist; changes in the number of directors; incurring a certain level of debt; exceeding certain level of expenditures; or investing in other businesses. Generally, founders should vigorously resist many of such protective voting rights. Instead, a founder should argue that the company should rely on the board of directors to do what is prudent, rather than forcing such matters to be delayed by a shareholder vote.
BOARD SEATS Generally, venture capitalists will expect an increasing number of board seats with subsequent financings in order to exert more control over board decisions and processes. To counter this, an entrepreneur may wish to establish at the outset that he wants to be able to look to the board as a repository of business experience and advice. To this end, the founder entrepreneur group may decide to limit itself to just two founders on the board, with one or two seats reserved for venture investors, and two or three seats reserved for industry leaders. With this type of board, no one group controls the board and the board can focus on the best interests of the company, as opposed to those of a specific group.
LIQUIDATION PREFERENCE Simply put, the liquidation preference provides that upon liquidation or dissolution of the company, the venture capitalistsâ€™ shares must be paid some amount of money (i.e. payout on an exit event) before the other shareholders are paid anything. The definition of liquidation is generally broad enough to include any sale of the business or sale of substantially all of the companyâ€™s assets. In addition to the prejudicial financial implications for found-
Venture capitalists bring smart money to the table for founders and their companies. However, the demands of venture capitalists for company control must be balanced against founder control (and the companyâ€™s best interests) to increase the chances of business success. Shahram Safai practices venture capital law and represents venture capitalists, investors and entrepreneurs. Shahram is also a professional engineer and has previously worked in Silicon Valley, California, practicing venture capital law, mergers, and acquisitions. He is a partner at law firm Afridi & Angell. 
vol. 2 /november 2013
A LIFELONG OBSESSION WITH NEW YORK-STYLE PIZZA MIXED WITH A DOLLOP OF EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE IS PAYING OFF FOR THE PIZZA GUYS, WHICH OPENED IN DUBAI THIS YEAR. > By Ed Attwood
short chat with The Pizza Guys – aka Amber Haque and Rami Badawi – feels a bit like a lesson in the entrepreneurial arts. The husband-andwife team, who set up their New York-style pizzeria in Business Bay in March, seem to tick all the ‘must-have’ boxes when
it comes to starting your own business: product obsession, a focus on customer service, excellent relationships with both suppliers and investors and - last but not least - luck in spades. Above all, they are clearly having the time of their lives. The idea for a neighbourhood joint that served great Neapolitan pizza, where the clientele knew the owners and
felt comfortable hanging out, had been in Rami’s thoughts for at least a decade. Although raised in Abu Dhabi, he had spent a decade working in the US for Ritz-Carlton, and would often end up in the local pizzerias after lengthy night shifts. “They were really the only places open at the time – people would go there to grab a slice or a calzone on the way home,” Rami recalls. “I
FOOD noticed they had a cult following, and I remember thinking, wow, I bet these guys make a lot of money.” Although the couple first met at high school in Abu Dhabi, Amber took a different career path, gaining a masters in human rights law before moving to Dubai in 2008 to work as a sales and marketing director for a local firm. But the obsession to create the perfect slice of pizza eventually saw them team up at the beginning of 2011 to set up their own business. “Rami is a pizza fanatic, and he has been ever since I’ve known him,” says Amber. “Because of his background in the hospitality industry, he’s been exposed to a lot of food, so the idea to include ingredients like stracciatella cheese and wagyu beef came from him. “He’s pretty militant about the oven temperature – we have a lasercontrolled thermometer. He knows exactly what he wants and he’s thrown away pizzas that have come out of the oven in front of customers because they weren’t up to scratch. “We’ve even had to turn away people because the oven wasn’t hot enough. He’s a little bit extreme, but that’s because this is something he’s been thinking about for a long time,” she adds. Rami doesn’t immediately strike the casual observer as a “militant obsessive” but the softly spoken Palestinian soon reveals the depths of his passion for pizza. “If somebody doesn’t like my product, it hurts my feelings,” he says. “I take it so personally that every time something goes wrong, it really hurts. But I don’t think you can be like that every time something goes wrong, because you can’t win every single battle – but we do really try to.” Luckily for Rami, the feedback seems to have been almost universally positive. Much of the credit for
“If somebody doesn’t like my product, it hurts my feelings. I take it so personally.”
that must stem from the preparation that the Pizza Guys put into their product. Building on Rami’s encyclopaedic knowledge of New York pizza and hospitality background, Amber took on a course at the US chapter of the Association of True Neapolitan Pizza, which has trademark protected the Italian city’s original methods for pizzamaking. After that, it took the Pizza Guys 14 The temperature months to set up at which The Pizza the company, with Guys’ oven a series of trips to New York, planning operates the menu, finding a contractor and testing the product countless times. The final piece of the puzzle was completed when the team located a local investor. “I consider myself to be quite a lucky guy,” says Rami. “I’ve been in this town for quite a while and through my network I was able to fairly easily raise the funds for this. We faced many other challenges but this was not one. “We approached somebody and he had one question – was the pizza good? ‘Prove it and make it for me’, he told us. I said ‘I can, but we don’t have the oven’. He managed to get access to an oven – at Cipriani in Abu Dhabi. Their chef wasn’t very happy, but we went anyway. We made the pizza, our investor brought a whole group of friends, and it was a great experience – they loved it.” “But I would say that you shouldn’t just look for money, look for people who are aligned with your way of thinking. We are so fortunate that we had our choice of investor; we didn’t go with one particular party because we knew it wasn’t going to fit in with my style. I have to be in the driving seat. You have to find somebody who’s aligned with you long and short term, who will let you do your thing. With the funding in place, Amber and Rami then went to work on finding the right suppliers. They shipped in their oven (which operates at a frightening 900 degrees Celsius, cooking pizzas in just two minutes) from Valoriani, an Italian firm that has been building purpose-built wood-fired ovens since 1890. Their coffee and
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The Pizza Guys
“Ramzi is a pizza fanatic and he has been ever since I’ve known him.” 
FOOD flour come from two other family firms that have been making the products for six generations. Even the grain that is fed to the cows on a handpicked Australian farm that provide the pizzeria’s wagyu beef is genetically modified organism free. “Right from the beginning, we tried our best to create good relationships with our suppliers and contractors,” says Rami. “We negotiated some ridiculous payment terms; everyone is flexible, you just need to know how to negotiate that. “One of our contractors got paid almost eight months after we got started and it wasn’t because we weren’t paying – it’s what we agreed. So that’s something I would encourage everyone to do; always give your suppliers a little bit now and again, because people not paying is a problem in Dubai, so if you can find a way to stagger it out for as long as you can, that helps you keep going.” The Pizza Guys have also placed a premium on customer service, another area where Dubai doesn’t exactly have a sparkling reputation. “We take out all the checks if something happens, like a delay,” says Amber. “First of all, we don’t charge them, but then the next morning, you have to follow up. What you find is that people are very forgiving, a lot more forgiving than you’d think. Every one of those people is potentially a hundred new customers.” Business so far has been brisk but already the Pizza Guys believe they’ve learnt a couple of lessons about setting up a firm. “We didn’t hire any external help, like consultants, which is unusual,” says Rami. “And in doing that, it’s very easy to overlook things. If I had one piece of advice for anybody, it would be to be as absolutely pessimistic as you can possibly be when putting together your business plan. “And when you’ve reached the ultimate The duo hope to point of pessimism, then just add another open their second 50 percent and you outlet by the end might be ok. Because of 2014 there will be delays in construction – it happens everywhere, not just in Dubai - and we didn’t
vol. 2 /november 2013
The Pizza Guys
“Luck comes to all of us, but you have to stay around long enough for that to happen.” anticipate some of the approvals would take so long from the ministry. “You can just simply forget about things. Why is it so important? Because of the budget. If you don’t have someone with you who’s done it before, I think it’s more fun, but there’s also a lot of room for error.” They may only be ten months into the restaurant game but already the team is looking to open another outlet in Dubai by the end of 2014. Given their policy of limiting deliveries to only a few nearby neighbourhoods in order to make sure the pizzas are still piping hot by the time they reach the customer (there’s that focus on product again), it looks like there is plenty of room for growth. Rami says that their business partner is keen to expand outside of Dubai, but he’s also keen not to jump too soon. A nearer target is that of balancing the books; the couple say they are likely to make an operating profit in January next year, with the aim of breaking even at some point towards the end of 2014. In the meantime, they are trying to get the message out via word of mouth,
via social media and via more traditional marketing tools. “Loads of people will just come and hang out,” says Amber. “It’s men, overwhelmingly; they love pizza. But we’re going to start going after women. They tend to worry more about low fat foods and calorie counting – but we don’t put any fat in our dough, it’s all handmade. Some of the cheeses are handmade – so it’s good stuff, it’s just about getting the word out there.” “To me, success is about staying in the game,” Rami says. “Luck comes to all of us, but you have to stay around long enough for that to happen. Be prepared, when an opportunity comes, and make sure you’re still around to take it. “Don’t go into business if you have a bad product; I think,
unfortunately, that there are a lot of people who look at somebody else and think ‘I can do that’, and then open a business. I think if you have your heart behind it and really put your time and effort into it, and be responsive, it will work out. “But if you can’t stay in the game, you’re not going to get lucky.” So in the spirit of investigative journalism – it’s a tough gig working for StartUp – I headed down to The Pizza Guys outlet in Business Bay a few days after the interview. I’m no pizza expert, so I also brought along an American foodie with a particular penchant for New Yorkstyle pizza. And the verdict? “Best I’ve ever had outside the Big Apple,” came back the answer, through a large mouthful of dough, tomato sauce, and melted cheese. 
vol. 2 /november 2013
WHEN IT COMES TO DESIGNING A WEBSITE OR BRANDING MATERIAL, IT’S IMPORTANT TO STRIKE THE RIGHT CHORD WITH COLOUR. DIFFERENT COLOURS HAVE DIFFERENT MEANINGS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACTS, ON BOTH THE CONSCIOUS AND SUBCONSCIOUS MIND. BY IMPLEMENTING THE RIGHT COLOUR SCHEME YOU COULD ATTRACT MORE PEOPLE TO YOUR COMPANY, WHILE POOR PALATE CHOICES COULD DRIVE THEM AWAY. WE LOOK AT WHICH COLOURS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH WHICH FEELINGS, AND HOW YOU CAN MAKE THEM WORK FOR YOUR BUSINESS. RED
Full of passion and power, red is a stimulating colour with a focus on excitement, strength, determination and boldness. But beware, it can also represent danger. Choosing a warmer tone could offer a sense of comfort and security, while energy and youthful exuberance comes with more vibrant reds. If you want to get noticed or reflect intense emotion, red could be perfect for your business.
Pink has strong tones of youth and femininity, as well as pop culture and sweetness. It’s perhaps obvious to say it’s a popular colour for businesses with a female audience, but the nuances of pink can make a big difference to who you attract to your website, product or service. Brash pinks appeal more to younger, vivacious women, for example, while pastels and pale pinks have a more mature feel.
Full of energising qualities due to its link to the sun, there is a sense of warmth and happiness to yellow. Bright and youthful, children will be attracted to this colour, while more grainy, darker shades could evoke history, the wilderness, concentration or wisdom. You can have too much of a good thing, however, as an excess of yellow is overpowering and harsh on the eyes.
Blues ooze with feelings of calmness. Dependable and trustworthy, there’s a suggestion that businesses with blue at its core carry experience and success. Blue also reflects openness and oceans of possibilities, something Facebook puts to good use on its site. Tranquility abounds with blue brands, but don’t let it become cold, unwelcoming or boring.
As the most natural colour, green’s connections to plants, leaves and grass means there is a lot of positivity and optimism. Life, rejuvenation, the environment and abundance go hand in hand with lush greens, while darker shades may bring financial themes to people’s minds. With that comes notions of affluence. Paler, lighter shades offer honesty and purity, but be careful not to let it make you look young and naïve.
Be careful how you use brown, as it can look dated, dull or dirty. Implemented the right way, however, it can give richness and cosiness to your brand, as well as reassurance and earthy wholesomeness. Be careful which colours you use alongside brown, and it can change how various hues look. If you want to appear solid, genuine and honest, brown is a good option.
Calmer than red, and livelier than yellow, orange can offer your brand a lot of energy and movement. As a creative colour, many website designers like to implement hints of orange, especially as it offers warmth, intelligence and friendliness.
Purple has passionate connotations, as well as luxury, and nobility. A sense of wealth comes with rich, darker shades, while lighter colours stimulate the senses, suggesting aromas of lavender. If you’re aiming to exude elegance or mystery, purple could be the colour for you. If you want to appear natural, however, try to steer clear of purple as it has a more artificial feel than many other colours.
BLACK AND WHITE
The eternal favourites, black and white are often used as a background in order to let other colours do the talking. On their own, they give great authority and can bring to mind purity, power, simplicity and innocence. Their clean lines make them ideal for design-driven websites, but be careful not to make your brand look empty or unfinished. Don’t forget the classic imagery of good versus evil, and openness versus esotericism.
SETTING UP OPPORTUNITIES
vol. 2 /november 2013
SETTING UP A BUSINESS IN QATAR QATAR’S ABUNDANCE OF NATURAL GAS RESERVES AND BURGEONING ECONOMY MEANS THAT THERE ARE PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITIES TO ATTRACT FOREIGN INVESTMENT. ARABIAN BUSINESS STARTUP INVESTIGATES THE CHALLENGES AND REQUIREMENTS NEEDED TO ESTABLISH A BUSINESS PRESENCE IN THE TINY EMIRATE. > By Erika Widen
SETTING UP ast year, Qatar was confirmed as being one of the richest countries in the world due mainly to the presence of the planet’s third-largest reserves of natural gas. In addition to hosting the upcoming World Cup in 2022, it is clear that the opportunities for foreign investors within the region and beyond are greater than ever. Already Doha is undergoing an infrastructure boom worth more than $140bn (QR509bn), including new roads and a metro system to accommodate the expected influx of residents in the near future. The oil and gas sectors, including the production of natural gas and crude oil, steel, cement manufacturing and fertilisers, contribute a high percentage of Qatar’s gross domestic product. However, Doha’s key strategy is to move away from energy towards major non-oil growth sectors such as construction, real estate, communication, agriculture, fishing, water and electricity, tourism and banking. On the other hand, despite Qatar’s strong economy, there are only a few ways in which foreign entities such as individuals and companies can seek to establish a business presence in Doha. Indeed, foreign capital is attracted to the various incentives available such as exemptions from customs duty and tax breaks.
However, the general rule is that potential businesses are required to have a Qatari sponsor. Foreigners are entitled to invest only via the medium of a joint venture company incorporated in Qatar in which one or more Qataris, or 100 percent Qatari-owned entities, hold 51 percent of the share capital. All joint venture companies in all business sectors are allowed with the exception of commercial and real estate. Banking and insurance activities also fall under this category unless by ministerial resolution or if such activities fall under an applicable free zone in accordance to Qatar’s foreign investment law. There are, however, according to the Qatar Chamber, certain exceptions with respect to real estate, which allows for the provision of land necessary for governmentapproved investment projects. John Martin St Valery, founding partner of Links Group of Companies, which specialises in assisting
“Foreign capital is attracted to the various incentives available such as exemptions from customs duty.”
Setting up a LLC • Minimum capital of QR200, 000 ($54,937), which must be fully paid up. • Must have at least 51% Qatari ownership unless an exemption has been obtained. • The parties’ profits shares do not necessarily have to reflect their equity shareholdings. • Ten percent of each year’s net profits must be kept within the company until the legal reserve stands at 50% of the share capital. • May not raise capital by public subscription and may not issue freely transferable shares or bonds. • Shares may only be transferred after they have first been offered to the other shareholders by way of pre-emption, unless the other shareholders have agreed to waive their right. • May not accept deposits, carry out banking or insurance business or provide investments services on behalf of third parties. Source: Simmons & Simmons
John Martin St Valery, founding partner of Links Group of Companies. 
individuals and providing solutions for easy business, says: “The companies’ law is clear. A local Qatari individual or 100 percent Qatari-owned company must hold the majority share in any Limited Liability Company (LLC), which is the most common form of company registration. With the correct contractual documentation from the outset a foreign company can retain full management, financial and operational control — along with effective beneficial ownership.”
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Qatar is expected to see an influx of businesses as the 2022 draws closer.
Moreover, a special consideration is made when the foreign ownership in the new venture is a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) national or entirely owned by a GCC legal entity. In other words, the GCC national or legal entity is entitled to own 50 percent of the share capital in the new Qatar venture with a Qatari counterpart. “The companies’ law differs for GCC nationals establishing a business in Qatar by way of equal equity participation. Different issues arise from case to case; again, professional advice from the outset can avoid any future pitfalls or uncertainty over ownership rights,” says St Valery. Subsequently, all businesses are obliged to pay a minimum of QR200,000 in share capital, whereas only a few businesses have a larger share capital, generally because it is required for the purpose of a specific contract. Once the share capital
“Professional advice from the outset can avoid any future pitfalls or uncertainty over ownership rights.”
Qatar Financial Centre.
the agriculture, health, education, is deposited into the company’s tourism, information technology, bank account, the amount cannot exploitation of natural resources be withdrawn until the company is and mining sectors. incorporated. “Each application is reviewed “There is high demand in on a case-by-case basis by all industries, especially the Ministry of Business where companies and Trade. It should supply a niche prodbe noted that only uct. The market is a small number of not always an easy Businesses are obliged foreign companies have market to break into to pay a minimum received the ministebut once you have rial approval to operate the rewards can be share capital of as 100 percent wholly worth the time and QR200,000 owned subsidiary,” says effort spent investing Ashford. in Qatar,” says Jane Consequently, among the Ashford, a director biggest challenges associated with at PRO-Partnership, a firm that facilitates business set-up solutions establishing any foreign business in Qatar is finding a trustworthy and, in the process, becomes a 51 local partner. percent shareholding local partner. “The ‘right’ local partner is Ashford explains to Arabian probably the most important Business Qatar that there was an decision any company will make absolute need to establish PROwhen establishing in Qatar. Far too Partnership in Qatar, since there is many companies will make a rash a huge demand for a local partner decision without doing the proper that can offer security, reliability due diligence as to who are they and flexibility. forming a partnership with,” says “PRO-Partnership local Qatari John Forde, also a director at PROpartners are influential and Partnership. prepared to go the extra mile for In the same way, Forde adds that their foreign partner,” she says. it is difficult to gain the information As of today, PRO-Partnership required to establish a company, offers its support to more than 50 in addition to the bureaucracy, the companies as a majority trusted vagaries of the Qatari legal system, partner. and the language barrier. According to Ashford, subject “Also the foreign company’s to an exemption from the Minisdocuments will need to be try of Business and Trade, the notarised, attested and legalised, foreign investment law allows total and all government forms are ownership to non-Qatari firms in
Qatar is keen to ensure the local culture is retained amid the growth of foreign investments and businesses,
written in Arabic and must be completed in Arabic,” Forde says. When asked about the disadvantages of the unequal percentage ratio of ownership, Forde explains that the share of profits does not need to reflect the shareholding and the profit share amount can be decided between the two partners. “Like any partnership there are always risks but there are also rewards. In Qatar, unlike the United Arab Emirates, the local partner can be held responsible for the foreign parties’ actions and therefore I would say the risk on both sides is equal,” says Forde. It is also important to be highly aware of the Qatari laws. For instance, for an LLC, foreign companies according to the proxy law cannot have a completely silent partner. The Qatar Chamber states that the proxy law prohibits non-Qatari nationals from exercising any commercial, economic or vocational business except in the sectors where they are permitted to do so in accordance with applicable laws. The proxy law also makes it unlawful for legal or natural Qatari persons to ‘cover up’ the business activities of any non-Qatari person, thus enabling the non-Qatari person to carry on any commercial, economic or vocational business in violation of the law. Covering up is deemed to include any assistance afforded to the non-Qatari by the Qatari party allowing the non-local to unlawfully use the name, licence, commercial registration or other
wise, of the Qatari for the benefit of the non-local, the Qatari or both. “The market is open to all businesses; if you have a good idea and the funds to support the establishment of a company, then a concept business can do just as well as a franchise,” says Forde. There is, however, a separate and distinct regime for establishing companies in the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), which allows 100 percent foreign ownership and has been put in place to attract
“The ‘right’ local partner is probably the most important decision any company will make.” international financial services. “The only free zones are the QFC and the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP). To enter QFC your business must be mostly financial based, and to enter the QSTP your company must be doing research,” explains Forde. Ashford also adds that the timescale for a business to be fully set up and legally operational depends mostly on PROPartnership’s clients. “Initially how long does it take to get the foreign document attested and
legalised? The foreign party can often be slow in signing a lease for commercial premises.” However, Ashford does have a rough guideline for those occasions when all parties are working together to complete the process. “I would give an estimate of one month to obtain the Commercial Registration and subsequently two to three months to obtain a trade licence, immigration card, labour quota and finally the general manager’s permit.” Philip Norman, partner at Simmons & Simmons, an international law firm, also says that the major challenge is related to finding an appropriate local partner. “You also need to negotiate and agree the terms of that relationship to ensure clear protection of the foreign investor’s rights,” continues Norman. “Other than this, the practical aspects of getting approvals from the different public entities can be time consuming and need to be carefully navigated, and negotiated where the authority exercises its discretionary powers.” Norman advises foreign investors to prepare beforehand clear business plans that meet the legislative and practical requirements, especially with regard to identifying the business activities the company will undertake. “Most importantly, it should ensure that the full suite of documents to support an application to incorporate are properly legalised and attested for submission to the authorities,” concludes Norman. |
vol. 2 /november 2013
vol. 2 /november 2013
LUCY BRUCE, THE FOUNDER OF HARMONY HOUSE, A DAY CENTRE FOR IMPOVERISHED CHILDREN IN INDIA, IS EYEING THE EXPANSION OF HER VENTURES IN BOTH THE UAE AND GURGAON. > By Beatrice Thomas ucy Bruce has always been one to take up a cause. The savvy businesswoman and co-founder of leading Dubai luxury brand marketing company, Insignia, readily admits that while her classmates were busy being kids she was already thinking of those less fortunate. “As a child I was always drawn to kind of the weaker child in the class, the one that was being bullied,” the 35-year-old explains. “If there was any charity campaigns going on I was always getting involved, I was always doing bake sales and whatever to try and raise money for various different causes. “I just always felt that if there was something that I could do then it was my job to do it and I had to do something.” And do something she has. Two decades after baking cakes for those in need, Bruce now runs Harmony House, a day centre for disadvantaged youth in India, and is one half of the team behind the UAE’s first and only ecological and socially responsible children’s
nursery, Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery. Her efforts ensure she is helping some 500 children better their lives — in the process earning wide praise for her charitable work. After graduating with a degree in education from Middlesex University fourteen years ago, Bruce, who describes her upbringing as middle class — “we never went without” — headed to the UAE and a primary school teaching job in Abu Dhabi. “It was literally a village fourteen years ago,” she recalls of the UAE capital back then. “And Dubai was maybe half the size it is now.” Bruce, who grew up near Cambridge, north of London, intended to stay a year, before moving on to her next adventure in Hong Kong or Japan. However, opportunities ensured she stayed in the UAE. After three years of teaching, Bruce says it was at her father’s urging that she started to look at what else she could do. “My father owns an alternative media agency in the UK and there were a number of products that he had, which obviously, I’ve grown up with,” she says.
CHARITY “I used to come down to Dubai on the weekends and say to my Dad ‘oh God, there’s so many events going on, you should just come and see what you can do’. “Of course, he wasn’t going to leave the UK, so he said: ‘why don’t you see if you can do some stuff’?” So, after finishing her work day Bruce would drive to Dubai, a sample box in hand, and knock on the doors of various agencies. Behind one door was an upcoming marketing executive by the name of Gaurav Sinha, who would later become her husband. Sinha convinced her after a couple of meetings to leave teaching and in 2003 the pair formed Insignia. “When we started it was just Gaurav and I working off one little desk in Media City,” Bruce recalls of their early days. “I was doing all the below-the-line work and he’d be doing all the abovethe-line work. When we started there was a boom in events and Dubai was taking off in terms of social events, media, corporate events.” With Sinha’s marketing expertise and ability to “capture clients’ imaginations” and Bruce’s sales skills, plus what she describes as a lot of networking and a quick turnaround for clients, the pair quickly gained a foothold in the industry. However, for Bruce the childhood passion to help others was also still lingering. “When I married my husband and I got pregnant with our first child I had a bit of time on bed rest and I had time away from Insignia and I just started thinking about, obviously, children,” she explains. “I’ve got a child inside of me, what is the life of my child going to be like versus all the other children that are out there in the world and I wondered what I could do to make a difference to other children.” Bruce collected money from friends, which she would send to a charity in her husband’s native India. However, she discovered, much to her disappointment, that the money was not being spent as intended. “After a lot of thought and a discussion with Gaurav we realised that the only way that we could completely control where money went to was if we started up our own charity,” she says. “To do something in India was just very natural to us because my husband was Indian and 
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Lucy Bruce we wanted to do something there.” w However, the reality initially fell slightly short of expectations. She sl h had wanted to start an orphanage for te ten underprivileged girls, who she would educate and create opportuw nities for via a global network. n “But, quite rightly, the Indian Government said to me: ‘do you G think we’re just going to give you ten th children?’,” she says. ch “There was a lot of naivety that I had h and I hadn’t really thought things through properly. They said to th me: ‘you need to prove for three years m that you can run a sustainable charth ity and help children. But, we are not it going to allow you to have children g living with you’. That’s where the idea liv of Harmony House came.” o After starting with twelve children in 2009, today the charity comprises two separate houses in Gurgaon, just tw outside of Delhi, with the second o opening earlier this year. Catering for o 335 children aged from six months to sixteen years, it hopes to reach its full capacity of 450 children by 2014. Bruce says that as a day centre, the children, most of whom live in neighbouring slums, are provided with breakfast before school, which operates out of the centre in both English and Hindi. In addition, wash facilities are provided as well as clean clothes and medical care. Vocational training is also offered to local women. Bruce, who rightly is proud of the operation, says the services provided to the children can mask the actual extent of their poverty. “If anybody ever visits Harmony House we always take them to the slums because they come to Harmony House and say ‘hang on a minute, these kids, they look well fed, they’re well clothed, they’re happy, they don’t look like they’re from a deprived area’,” she says. “But, just a stone’s throw away is where they live. They’re living
“I was always drawn to kind of the weaker child in the class. The one that was being bullied.”
CHARITY in sort of shacks, if you like, pre-fabricated shacks in shanty towns which are run down with no fresh running water. “Very little of the community houses have electricity. No wash facilities, they’re living amongst animals. It’s quite distressing the first time you go there.” The children at Harmony House are also paired up with others at the Home Grown Children’s Eco Nursery, Bruce’s most recent project in Dubai. Set up in 2011 with her friend, Beverley Jatwani, Bruce says much of the philosophy behind the nursery was to educate children who have everything about those who go without. The paired children exchange letters and cards with a portion of each child’s nursery fees in Dubai used to pay for their paired child’s education in India. “I had a lot of people come and say to me ‘oh, my children are so spoilt, what can I do to make them realise that there are other children out there who have real, sincere needs not just mummy, please, please, I want an iPad’, but have actual daily struggles,” Bruce says. The nursery taught basic preschool education but also “some values and morals to become sort of unique little individuals who care about the planet”. Under its “green” curriculum, which she and Jatwani developed alongside the UK Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, topics included the earth, culture and society, as well as gardening, green transport and endangered animals. “It is a business and obviously there is a profit, but as a social business we do give back,” she says, adding that it was at capacity with 160 children and long waiting lists. While the nursery operates under a business model, Harmony House is registered as a charity, operating via a trust, in both India and the UK. Bruce says each Harmony House centre costs $108,000 (AED400,000) annually to run and most of the charity’s donations come from individual contributions. Many of the donations are from the UAE, but under Dubai law an 
causes and is constantly amazed by organisation can only fundraise in acts of generosity. the emirate if it is licensed through Bruce also believes Dubai is the Department of Islamic Affairs gradually becoming more “green” and Charitable Activities. in its approach to development The department has 20 licensed and living as the UAE became more charitable associations and founenvironmentally conscious. dations listed on its website with “There is a group here called eco extensive operational guidelines. schools, which came from Bruce says the licences are the UK, and there are difficult to obtain, though a number of schools she understands the which have achieved public must be protected their green flag from unscrupulous status through the operators. eco schools. “There’s some amazThe annual cost to “We’re really ing charities in Dubai run each Harmony trying to push for that don’t necessarily House centre them to do nurseries collect money,” she says. here, so we’re trying She gives as examto get involved with that ples, Lola Lopez’s and make it so that all nursVolunteer in Dubai, and eries can achieve the green flag.” Adopt-a-Camp where people can With plans to open a second donate to those in labour camps. nursery, Bruce talks of growing “But, if you are an independent to 1,000 children at Harmony charity registered outside the UAE House next year and, possibly, new then it is slightly more difficult for projects across MENA. you to do normal fundraising,” she So, does that young girl from the says. “But it’s there for a reason.” UK with a penchant for causes still Bruce says she believes there is have much to achieve? genuine support in the business “In terms of Harmony House, community towards charitable there is so much more that we can do,” she says. “I mean, we haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg. What we’re doing is small in terms of numbers and how many children need help. But you have to start somewhere — that’s what I always tell myself. “It’s better to do something and help one person than not do anything at all.”
vol. 2 /november 2013
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THE BRAINS BEHIND THE DUBAI-BASED FASHION FORWARD SERIES OF EVENTS REVEAL THE OPPORTUNITIES AND PITFALLS THAT LIE AHEAD FOR THE REGION’S NASCENT FASHION INDUSTRY. > By Beatrice Thomas here can be no denying fashion is big business in the Middle East. From the $8bn spent annually on luxury goods, to the region’s expansive shopping malls and the multi-billion-dollar Qatari acquisitions of brand giants, its love affair with fashion is truly unwavering. “It’s huge, the highest consumers of fashion are from this region,” says Bong Guerrero, one half of the team behind Dubai fashion showcase, Fashion Forward. “A lot of your fashion objects are designed and marketed for the consumers of this region, so it’s very, very important.” However, for all the big numbers, he says, they repre
sented investment mostly on the “buying end”. According to Deloitte, of the $6.47bn in retail revenue recorded in the Middle East by the world’s top 250 companies in 2011, 26.9 percent was derived from foreign-based operations. And of the ten top 250 retailers that entered a Middle Eastern country for the first time in 2011, all of them used a franchising model. “I think it’s about time that we also produced our own brands,” Guerrero says. “Almost all the big brands are looking into this region, so it’s about time the region starting thinking about nourishing its own talent.” Fashion Forward is both metaphorical and literal in its meaning. As well as representing the traditional avant-garde element of the fashion scene, it’s
just as much about moving the region into a new phase. Created by Guerrero and Ramzi Nakad, who are also behind successful event and management company Brag, the event is in its second season of its inaugural year. While Rakad, whose background is in advertising, says it was a “natural evolution” for Brag to create its own event, Bong, whose background is in fashion and events, also talks of an obvious void in the Dubai fashion scene. “For any investor to come and invest in a Middle Eastern brand, you have to show the edge against any Parisian or American brand,” says Rakad. “Right now, while we have a lot of great potential, that unique identity is yet to be identified. “[Fashion Forward] was |
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Fashion Forward aims to become the jewel in the crown of the region’s fashion calendar.
a two or three-year business endeavour of analysing the market, understanding where we’re at, talking to a lot of the designers, talking to editors, getting feedback.” However, the pair also had friends who were designers and, as Rakad puts it, “lost and looking for a platform that will project them and give them that visibility and give them that launch pad”. Rakad says they put their heads together to work out the concept, paying attention to what other countries, including key fashion markets such as Paris and New York, were doing in this space. Among the questions they asked were: where is the Middle East? Where is Middle Eastern fashion? What are the various attempts at this? What was good, what was bad? After its inaugural event in April with eighteen designers, Fashion Forward Season Two, in October was been bolstered to 21 catwalk shows, as well as a Fashion Assembly of high-profile industry names and a new space, The Garden, for non-apparel designers. 
In a nod to Guerrero’s pulling power – as well as his start in Dubai two decades ago working for a fashion house he is widely seen as a pioneer of the city’s nightclub scene - the Fashion Assembly featured fourteen talks presented by some of the world’s most respected “fashion academia” from the Domus Academy in Milan, the London College of Fashion and Parsons in New York. Also onboard was the creative director and chairman for Halston Heritage, online retailers Moda Operandi, who also viewed the
“You’ve got bigwigs of the fashion scene coming to us and sharing their experience and knowledge.”
shows, as well as Not Just A Label and Refinery29 from New York. “You’ve got bigwigs of the fashion scene coming to us and sharing their experience and knowledge and hopefully inspiring us to get on with it,” Guerrero says. “There is the very tangible presentation of collections from established and emerging designers and that’s through catwalk shows, which is typical for any platform anywhere in the world. “But, we also have an educational angle to Fashion Forward where we say we want to foster development and education and learning.” As for the designers, Guerrero says there was one criteria for participation: they needed to be either from the Middle East or based in the region. They also needed to demonstrate a desire to be “a global player”, Rakad adds. As a result they are a combination of what Guerrero calls the “celebrated and fast-emerging”. On the celebrated side are names such |
vol. 2 /november 2013
“We want to foster development and education and learning.” as Firm Ona, Essa, Zayan, Toujouri, who were already making leaps on the international scene, with some showing in London and New York. Others have dressed celebrities. The Emperor 1688, says Guerrero, was another great Dubai export. But, there were also strong newcomers from Saudi, he says, such as Aziz Humaid and there was the Italian-Argentinean duo of Taller Marmo. Rakad says in finding that allimportant unique product, Asian designers had managed to differentiate themselves and create a profile where people could “automatically identify an Asian designer, whether Japanese or Chinese”. “Middle Eastern [designers] are still trying to be either Parisian or American, but a lot of them are trying to say ‘how can we go above and beyond that’?” There is no doubt the Middle East has an affinity for established markets, if recent investments are any indication. Under the auspices of Qatar’s Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser, the wife of former Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar Luxury Group now has an 85.7 percent majority stake in French leather goods company Le Tanneur & CIE, a 38 percent stake in UK luxury handbag and accessories manufacturer Anya Hindmarch and has launched its own luxury label, QELA. In addition, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund bought Italian fashion house Valentino last year, London luxury department store Harrods in 2010, with different entities controlled by Qatar’s royal family owning important stakes in German car maker Porsche, iconic US jeweller Tiffany & Co and LVMH, the French luxury group which owns Louis Vuitton. Qatar, via a group of investors, this year bought French department store Printemps from
Ahmad Bin Byat, director general of DTMFZA.
Fashion Forward has a strong social element, offering great networking opportunities. 
STYLE Deutsche Bank AG investment fund and Borletti Group, while recent speculative reports have also linked Qatari investors to Spanish department store chain El Corte Ingles. The region’s retail revenue is also strong. According to luxury brand consultant Bain & Company, the Middle East is now the tenth largest in the $271bn global luxury goods market, with sales exceeding $8.13bn in 2011. Of this, Dubai alone commanded 30 percent of the sales pie. “Local consumption, intra-region tourism and the strong historic relevance of hard luxury and perfumes/cosmetics are key market drivers,” Bain & Company said in September. And despite a global slowdown, a Deloitte report released in January found retail revenue growth for the world’s top 250 retailers in the Middle East/Africa region outstripped all other regions – increasing by 29 percent in 2011 and 20.1 percent between 2006 and 2011. The only other region in the same ballpark was Latin America, which recorded 21.3 percent and 15.8 percent growth respectively over the same periods. According to Dubai’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the retail sector contributed more than ten per cent to Dubai’s total GDP. Dubai’s future role in the fashion scene is being drawn up at government level and is filtering all the way down. The Dubai Fashion 2020 strategic plan, launched in June, aims to support Dubai and the wider region’s design and fashion industry in close alignment with the Dubai Design District project. Announcing the strategic partnership between the Government and Dubai Technology and Media
The Ayesha Depala show at a Fashion Forward event.
“We believe that Dubai is well positioned to enhance its role in the global fashion industry.” Ramzi Nakad and Bong Guerrero. 
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Fashion Forward Free Zone Authority (DTMFZA) Ahmad Bin Byat, director general of DTMFZA, said the global fashion industry generated an estimated trillion dollars a year. “With the growing demand for brands and luxury goods across the region as well as the success achieved by local designers internationally, we believe that Dubai is well positioned to enhance its role in the global fashion industry,” he said at the time. “Dubai Fashion 2020 will allow us to unlock the emirate’s full potential. While it focuses on developing a destination for the top international players in the industry, it also includes putting a particular emphasis on nurturing local talent, entrepreneurs and small businesses.” Guerrero admits the region has been lacking in the manufacturing sector, but it remains to be seen whether this part of the fashion industry would find a home in Dubai. However, he does believe the Design District will provide a home for “a whole eco-system of fashion designers and product designers”. The district, of which the $1.08bn first phase is slated for completion in 2015, will be operated by TECOM Investments, a member of Dubai Holding. According to the June announcement, it is expected to build on Dubai’s strengths in tourism, which is expected to double in visitors to 20 million by 2020, and in retail, which is estimated to grow to AED151bn ($41bn) in the next two years. It is also expected to be the most connected fashion district in the world, with Dubai only eight hours flight time from 90 percent of the countries in the world. “UAE nationals and expatriates alike are showing a keen interest not just in consuming fashion, design, and luxury goods and services, but also in the development of their own design and creative skills,” a statement at the time said. “One indication of this emergent trend is evidenced by rapid growth in enrolment rates on fashion and design courses at institutions in the UAE.” Guerrero says: “It’s very welcoming and it’s very encouraging. I know that a lot of our designers are
The Amato show at a Fashion Forward event.
“In a few year’s time Dubai will be the fashion hub for, at least, the region.” very excited and they look forward to moving over there. It’s just business support which makes setting up over there attractive.” Rakad says it will also enable a smoother licensing process. “It’s a tried and tested model in Dubai,” he says, referring to the effect Media City had on the film industry, Internet City had on IT companies and DIFC had in attracting financial players. “The fact that Dubai has now decided to focus on fashion could only mean that in a few years time Dubai will be the fashion hub for, at least, the region,” he says. Both agree that designers needed to accommodate fashion across the price spectrum. For designers in Fashion Forward, Guerrero explains, many initially targeted luxury but soon found themselves shifting to more mass-appealing pieces as they started to think volume and prêt-a-porter, or readyto-wear. They also needed to embrace online shopping, which , according to a PayPal report last month,
climbed to $107m in sales for fashion and accessories by Middle East consumers in 2012. The rise of the blogger and e-commerce were key focal points for the Fashion Assembly. Rakad compares the online shopping scene to that of the music industry ten years ago. “You had a lot of talented bands and artists that suddenly don’t need a label for them to become popular. That’s the great thing about online – it allows designers from all over the world to get that exposure and sell.” Guerrero says there was “token gestures” by department stores providing some space for local designers but acknowledges it was new territory for all concerned. It was also down to numbers, Rakad adds, which meant designers had to prove themselves first. As for Fashion Forward, the pair have no plans for a fashion week as such, with Guerrero pointing out there were “over 400 fashion weeks in the world” and, besides, they never actually ran for seven days. Currently bi-annual, they were monitoring how the event evolved. “For us there isn’t a natural syndrome of copy/paste,” Rakad says. “We’re trying to do something that is ownable. Why not out of Dubai? Fashion Week came out of Paris. Why not a sense of a fashion platform that is innovative, that is progressive, that has development at its core, that comes out of a city that has these attributes as well.” 
How I did it
INDIAN ENTREPRENEUR THUMBAY MOIDEEN EXPLAINS HOW HE BUILT A HEALTHCARE EMPIRE IN THE UAE.
y 1997, Thumbay Moideen had been travelling to the UAE on business for five years. A third-generation businessman, he was well aware of the Gulf state’s growing acumen for moneymaking opportunities. But it was not until a chance meeting with the ruler of Ajman, Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, that the middle-aged father of two decided it was time to move. “It was an accidental meeting with His Highness,” Moideen recalls. “Back home my family is into hospitals and education — these two industries are very important for a country. So during one of my discussions with His Highness I was highlighting that you need
“Once we realised it was going to do well we jumped at the project.” these few things, they’re very important for a country. “And I said my family is into schools and hospitals, so he said ‘why don’t you do something like this [in Ajman]’. “I got a shock, really. He said ‘I’ll support you and encourage you’, so I jumped at it. I brought a few consultants; we surveyed the market. Once we realised it was going to do well we jumped at the project.”
The result was the first teaching hospital and private medical university in the UAE, and possibly the Middle East, in 1998. The Gulf Medical University and the related hospital would nurse the country’s need to supply its own doctors, an expertise almost entirely imported at that time, while also treating the sick. Each doctor employed by the hospital would teach at the university, where pharmacy, dentistry and medicine are the key faculties. An expansion in recent years has seen the university, spread across 25 acres, also run medical conferences. Thumbay Group, owned entirely by Moideen, now has three GMC Hospitals, one each in Ajman, Dubai and Fujairah, as well as the GMC Medical & Dental Specialty Centre in Sharjah. Further hospitals in Dubai, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah are under construction and Moideen says a large hospital being built in Bangalore will become a teaching hub in India. “This new kind of model we’ve created — which has succeeded — we’re repeating. I think this could work everywhere,” Moideen says of the teaching hospital model, which has become common in many Western nations. In the past fifteen years, the company has expanded to also include pharmacies, diagnostic centres, optical shops, the Nutri-Plus health food shop franchise, health clubs and a new research centre covering both community and laboratory research. With real estate and development subsidiaries, the group buys the land and builds each of its facilities, making them wholly owned by Moideen. “Frankly, we have the whole range now in healthcare and education in the medical field,” Moideen says from his large office at the university. “There are lots of healthcare providers in the country but you don’t have someone who’s into this range; you’re talking education, you’re talking research, the whole range we’re doing now.” |
vol. 2 /november 2013
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