How did the firm get its start in the UAE?
RASHID KHALAF AL HABTOOR Al Habtoor Trading Enterprises was established in the 1980s to contribute to the development of the economy of the UAE. We have sold some of our smaller businesses and are consolidating and concentrating on three main sectors. The entire family is involved in the business; however, we also have own separate businesses. We have done well over the last few years in property. Despite expansion and developments in the real estate and construction sector in Dubai, niche property markets will always be strong here, both in terms of rentals and sales. The last few years have been difficult; however, things should improve in 2018, and 2019 will be a great year. We want to expand our property business further, mainly to Spain and the UK. For this reason, I hope for a more stable environment.
SAKIB M RAHMAN Allianz began in 1943 and currently operates in 27 countries across the globe in multiple sectors. We manufacture different retail products, garments, industrial products, and chemicals. We also operate in the construction of roads and highways. Moreover, we are present in finance and hedge fund management for our internal platforms, and have healthcare services that operate in certain countries and a charitable trust. Apart from that, we are also active in telecommunications. In Africa we have around 490 pay stations through which we provide gateway services for different mobile operators in the countries where we operate. We have over 10,000 people working for us globally. We started working in the UAE as an investment company but diversified due to our retail experience and have started to manufacture products here. Our brands touch the lives of the entire population of the UAE and across GCC countries, reaching 200 million people. Our major wellness brands are Dr. Neem and Mr. Darlie. At the moment, this is the most promising and important operation in Dubai.
What is the importance of your presence in Dubai?
RKAH There are many advantages. Dubai is currently the global hub; the airport has had 90 million passengers passing through, and 18 million people visit Dubai each year, making it the fourth-most visited city in the world after Bangkok, London, and Paris. About 50% of visitors to Dubai are business visitors, followed by medical and recreational tourists. Emirates Airline plays a large role here; it flies to around 30 cities in India and has 25 flights a day to the UK. In Dubai, companies can reach 2.5 billion people within a two- or three-hour flight. Other advantages of Dubai include the port facilities and the lifestyle here. Many people choose to live in Dubai with their families and fly to Saudi Arabia for work during the week.
SMR Sheikh Mohammed always had a vision to have more industrialization in the UAE. We have been in the retail industry for over 70 years now and are the distributors of British American Tobacco and Unilever in different countries. We also manufacture our own brands in other countries. We can see the difference in terms of transformation, time, and the cost of production when we have factories abroad versus here. In India, it may be cheaper to produce, but there are also significant power problems. Airports and international airlines are so well connected here that we are able to ship our products out in the quickest time possible. We ship our products to several locations in Asia because there are fewer tax issues. We can employ more people, give more value, and formulate the best product for people since we can save and give more. Geographically, Dubai allows companies to connect to any part of the world. UAE products have certain standards, allowing them to be accepted in North America, Europe, and even CIS countries. Having products made in the UAE makes it easier for us to export to other countries, which is why we have production facilities here.