DECADES OF ACHIEVEMENT
BTM SPOKE EXCLUSIVELY WITH FAROUK ALMOAYYED, CHAIRMAN OF THE YK ALMOAYYED GROUP OF COMPANIES, ABOUT HIS HISTORY WITHIN THE ORGANISATION AND PLANS FOR THE FUTURE. What are your memories of growing up in Bahrain? Well, actually I was born in Bahrain and am from a very large extended family. At the beginning, we all lived in a big house behind the stationery shop [in the Souq]. Our education was in the local schools. And, of course, Bahrain had only one secondary college, so all of Bahrain that’s my age went there – so, we know everybody from the Kings to the chiefs, so it made for a good network. Then I went to the UK to study business, but I found out that my English was not that great. So, I switched to engineering. I came back in 1966 to work with my father – who always wanted me to join him to help in the business. Was that what you wanted as well? Did you ever want to do something else? I didn't say no. I never really thought of doing anything else. I felt a need to help my father because when I was a child he was always travelling to Saudi Arabia. We were seven, but one of my brothers died early, so we are six now. Four sisters and one brother and I am the oldest. When was the business founded? How did it all start? The group started with my father, as he mentioned in the book he wrote, when his father sent him to India to sell pearls. He was successful and was given 2,000 rupees, which was a lot of money then. But he realised that it was not a lasting business because it was supply and demand. So, he started buying electrical equipment from India and they started a small shop to sell it. By that time, the first electrical station was built and people were getting electricity. I think it was 1943 or ’44. After the war, he went to the UK on a sea plane, it took about 22 hours with seven stops! He went to seek agencies to bring products to Bahrain; he got the full GEC agency and another company, Blackstone and Lister, for diesel engines and pumps. That's how his real business started and began marketing to Saudi Arabia. At that time, Saudi Arabia, of course, was at the beginning of the oil cycle, so that was an opportunity for him. As a boy, I used to go to the office every day from the age of 10. I would go in the afternoon and I would sit and watch, you know, and make tea and coffee. I got my first official role when I came back 40 March 2020
from university in July 1966. We had just got the agency for Ford, the motor car company, and my father told me to just take it over. But unfortunately, after a year it was boycotted, because of Israel. You know, at the time, there were very strong sentiments and we couldn't deal with them until 1984 actually. So, in the meantime, I started writing to car companies. We got Honda and GM and, in 1968, I wrote to Nissan and got that agency, which continues to be very big in this market. Who was leading the expansion? My father was really the guiding light and, of course, he was the old generation, conservative. He was the right influence to keep us, sort of, restrained and he didn't like to take money from banks. So, we were working with our own money, which restricted us, of course, sometimes. But it's also helpful when there are problems as you have no debt. What is the scope of the business today? We are now, maybe, one of the biggest commercial companies in Bahrain. We are, of course, mostly cars, but we also have electronics and household appliances. I started the contracting business. We started with air conditioning and then developed it into ACG (Almoayyed Contracting Group) which covers about 18 companies. From supply
to fit and maintenance, we do practically everything. There’s a huge waste transport station, security and cleaning, landscaping and agriculture. We develop to meet people’s needs which can help the economy also. We currently employ around 7,000 people. We've got about 40 per cent Bahrainisation and we are working on it. We have developed a programme of training locals to take over the jobs. So, especially in the retailing side, most of our top guys now are Bahraini, about 70 per cent, and they're doing a good job.
Vol.24 - Issue 3 - Your guide to a great way of life