Hussain Sajwani is the founder and Chairman of the global property development company, DAMAC Properties Dubai Co. Sajwani lives in Dubai with his wife and four children. A UAE National founded the Dubai-based luxury estate company in 2002, but his beginnings were far more modest.
Born to an entrepreneur father, Hussain Sajwani sold watches in their family shop and helped his family business prosper. He obtained a government scholarship and became one of the first students sent by the UAE government to the US. This experience was crucial for him at a very young age.
Hussain Sajwani started his career as a contracts manager at GASCO, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, after graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in Economics and Industrial Engineering. Shortly after, Sajwani decided to start his own business. In 1982, Hussain started his catering venture, and the rest is history.
The Catering Division of Hussain Sajwani
While Hussain Sajwani’s catering business is a market leader today, its story began modestly in 1982. This might be difficult to imagine because the business manages over 200 projects and serves approximately 150,000 meals a day in various markets, including the Middle East, Africa and CIS.
Sajwani’s catering division serves mostly construction campsites, educational institutions, army camps, but also, onshore and offshore locations and five-star hotels. The business specializes in providing subordinate services such as camp maintenance, management and human resource supply.
Hussain Sajwani – The King of Property
When it comes to success, many people would stop and enjoy the success of their first business, but Sajwani is not one of them. Hussain saw a big opportunity in real estate and decided to act fast. As one of the pioneers of the property market expansion in Dubai, Sajwani built several hotels in mid-90 that accommodated the growing influx of people coming to the emirate to do business and trade. The property mogul developed small hotels and then funded even bigger projects to develop towers in the top areas of Dubai.
Dubai has always been Hussain’s inspiration. The wealthy Emirate made him look deep into its development and imagine how it will grow in 10 and 20 years from now. That’s why he took calculated risks and decided to put a great amount of effort into it. Hussain Sajwani has never let the fear of failure stop him, which is a business lesson that many people can learn from him. “I consider every moment, success and failure a part of who I have become today. I have learned many lessons, some good and some bad, but together they have put me where I am today,” Hussain explained.
In 2002, Hussain Sajwani realized that it is time to establish his own property company DAMAC Properties Dubai Co. Today, the company is one of the most prominent property development establishments in the Middle East. Even today, Hussain experience and vision drive his company’s success. Thanks to his know-how in the property development industry, DAMAC Properties continue to grow in all fields, including administration, marketing, sales, finance and legal.
In the beginning, DAMAC Properties was founded as leisure, commercial and private residential developer. Since the very start, the business has expanded rapidly into Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, North Africa, Jordan, and Qatar. In May 2017, the Market Capital of DAMAC Properties was valued at $4.7 billion. Today, the company has over 2000 employees and it is listed publicly with shares trading on Dubai’s Financial Market.
DAMAC Properties deals with real estate development across the Middle East. As Hussain Sajwani always wanted, the company primarily operates in residential luxury property, as well as commercial and mixed-use properties. One of Hussain’s goals was to offer his clients fully serviced and branded villas and apartments. That said, DAMAC also provides co-branding with premium brands such as Versace Home and FENDI Casa.
Since its beginning, DAMAC Properties with Hussain Sajwani as a leader, has completed more than 20,230 homes. Today, the company has a development portfolio of more than 44,000 units that are in various phases of planning and progress.
Inspired by Dubai’s luxurious development and the possibilities it has opened ever since, Hussain’s biggest wish was to take up projects in the most exclusive and desirable locations. Sajwani also insisted that these projects are built according to the highest quality specification, which has become a synonym for the company.
Some of the most iconic projects of DAMAC Properties in Dubai include the Executive Heights and Smart Heights in TECOM, The Crescent and Lago Vista at IMPZ, Lake Terrace at Jumeirah Lake Towers, Park Towers in the DIFC among others.
But Hussain always knew that in order to stay the leading player in the region, he has to make quality partnerships. That’s why DAMAC Properties has formed partnerships with some of the most renowned fashion and lifestyle companies and brands in the world. Thanks to Sajwani’s vision, they brought some of the most innovative and exciting living ideas to life.
Some of these projects include Tiger Woods conceptualized golf course and luxury apartments, cottages and villas with outstanding interiors by Fendi, and luxury apartments with interiors by Italian’s renowned fashion house Versace. DAMAC Properties also aims to build uniquely conceptualized resorts and Paramount Hotels that provide lavish and Bugatti-styled cottages that will provide the true face of luxury living.
Hussain Sajwani’s Hospitality Vision
As a great visionary, DAMAC Owner Hussain Sajwani knows that hospitality brings many exciting and profitable opportunities. That’s why DAMAC Properties launched its hospitality unit called DAMAC Maison.
The hospitality division under Hussain Sajwani’s leadership provides tailored services to tenants in over 13,000 fully serviced hotel rooms and apartments. This division has positioned DAMAC and Hussain Sajwani among the largest hotel apartment developers in the UAE. The division is headed by DAMAC Hotels & Resorts, which operated hotels, hotel apartments, complexes and serviced villas under the brands such as DAMAC Maison Hotels & Resorts, Paramount Hotels and Resorts, AYKON Hotels and Resorts, DAMAC Maison de Ville Hotels and Resorts, DAMAC Maison Bay’s Edge, DAMAC Maison Royale Hotels and Resorts, and DAMAC Maison Royale The Distinction.
And yet, Sajwani continues to be involved in day-to-day activities of his company. A few years ago, Hussain tweeted about his employees: “My employees are like #family, which is why we gathered at my house to talk about our #achievements in 2016 & what we will achieve in 2017.” Today, Hussain continues to take care of his employees and his many business ventures.
But to know where a company is going, you need to know where it came from and how it all started. In 2013, DAMAC Properties was listed as the first ever real estate company from the Middle East on the London Stock Exchange after it raised $379 million in the form of an IPO through a global depository receipts program. In 2015, DAMAC Properties made it on its home market exchange, the Dubai Financial Market.
Headquartered in Dubai, DAMAC Properties has shown an enduring passion for quality and design, which has helped it build a reputation for creating some of the most iconic properties in the United Arabs Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan.
This amazing progress and success of DAMAC Properties can be credited to the entrepreneurial skills and vision of Hussain Sajwani. Sajwani has been listed among the top 100 most internationally influential Arabs thanks to his proven competence to transfer a small business idea into a corporate success and reality while providing the necessary leadership and vision.
Hussain Sajwani’s Projects Besides DAMAC
Hussain Sajwani is a sharp businessman with a proven record of successful investments into the global equity and capital markets. Sajwani currently holds investment portfolios of securities in many regional and global markets under DICO Investments Co LLC, which is his flagship investment company.
DICO Investments Co LLC focuses on investments in private equities, acquisitions and mergers. It also holds majority and minority holdings in publicly traded companies and it is always looking for value propositions in the global and regional investment spheres.
Hussain Sajwani is also interested in the world of trading, such as Al Amana Building Materials in Oman. The company represents world-famous names such as Villeroy & Boch, Grohe and Dorn Bracht, and many others. Al Anwar Ceramic Tiles Co in also one of his business interests, which is the first and one of only two tile manufacturers in the state.
Al Jazeira Services is another top investment initiative for Hussain Sajwani, which is listed on the Muscat Securities Market with a capitalization of over $110 million. The company was listed in 1997 and has produced impressive results in changing market conditions ever since. Finally, Hussain has served as a member of several boards, including the Majan University College in Muscat Oman, Juno Online in New York and Emirates Takaful Company in Abu Dhabi.
Hussain Sajwani’s Optimism and Vision
While many people fear the challenges to growth in the coming year, Sajwani remains optimistic and calm. He agrees with the majority of analysts over the slowdown of the market, but according to him, this is how things work in the business and in the world. “If you have ten years of good years, you’re gonna see a few years of slowdown, and things will come back. I think company owners, executives, CEOs, if they manage their cash flow and manage their growth, you go through those cycles. That’s natural,” Sajwani explained in an interview.
Hussain remains optimistic when it comes to Dubai market as well. Although 2018 has been a difficult year with the prices going up and sales coming down, he believes that with strong leadership, things will be good again after a year or two. “We’ve got a great leader, who believes in his city, who believes in his country, and we’ve got a beautiful infrastructure,” Sajwani said and added, ”Dubai is very resilient, from the long-term growth. It’s always going to go through the cycle. As a free capital economy, people are gonna overbuild, and then gonna catch up. Our leader is very open-minded, he doesn’t want to restrict the supply or the demand. He says, ‘Let the supply-demand naturally take its place. No point of, you know, you control the supply, let everybody manage, as a normal economy.’”
As for the global property market, Hussain Sajwani also has predictions and ideas he’s ready to share with everyone. According to him, Toronto is one of the cities that is going to continue to do well in 2019. “I visited them twice, my management has been there, we’re looking to do something. We’re a little bit nervous, because prices are high, but we think it’s going to continue for a while, because their immigration policy is very welcoming, the city’s growing,” he said.