Jan. 11, 2015

Moafaq Ahmad Al Gaddah

UAE, Dubai

Moafaq Ahmad Al Gaddah

Chairman, Mag Group


A man of humble origins, Moafaq Ahmad Al Gaddah is great proof that success in life is achieved through hard work and strong determination. Al Gaddah was born on April 10, 1962 in a small Syrian village and is the only son in a family of six. Starting at a very young age, his entrepreneurial spirit has taken him from Syria to Kuwait and to the UAE. He began as a vendor in the streets of Kuwait and now leads one of the most respected business conglomerates in the Middle East, a journey that he now happily shares with his own family and children.

What is the background of the Mag Group?

The Mag Group got its start in 1978 in the commercial sector, but has expanded to include over 50 companies working across a multitude of segments, including industrial, commercial, services, freight, hospitality, contracting and engineering, and real estate. Today, we have over 2,000 personnel and a presence in almost every country in the world.

Mag Group recently entered the Guinness World Records for the largest automated parking facility. Could you elaborate on this project?

Our automated parking solutions were developed by one of our group companies, namely Mag Royal Solutions (MRS). It's a system that allows vehicles to be parked and stored without human intervention. It is a sophisticated European and American engineering innovation that helps us overcome hurdles when developing projects. The technique MRS developed also encouraged us to commit to creating the largest automated parking system in the world, and achieving that Guinness World Record was a real motivator. With it, many doors were opened in terms of both local and international projects. The technique is especially useful in older cities that struggle with parking capacity. Deploying smart parking undoubtedly improves mobility, adding a new service that reduces congestion and that driver's bugbear of cruising around for a parking space.

Mag Group is planning investment of approximately AED15 billion in the real estate sector in Dubai. What impact will this investment have on the economy, and how is Expo 2020 fitting into your future investment plans?

Expo 2020 has helped to shape Mag Group's vision and strategy leading up to the big year. Our agenda is to execute and invest, and we hope to continue contributing to the growth of the economy in Dubai. We'd like to play a part in pushing Dubai further. In terms of projects, we're building a 45-story residential tower in the City of Arabia zone at Dubailand, which is a huge project that will take three years to complete. We're also working on a $50 million lubricant plant at Jebel Ali, which will be complete later in 2014. Meanwhile, we're working on a residential tower at Jumeirah Village, which will be complete in two years. In the short term, we also have plans to take steps in the health sector, and will be opening a clinic that may then be developed into a hospital here in Dubai.

What opportunities do you see in the hospitality segment in the lead up to Expo 2020, when record numbers of guests are expected to descend on the Emirate?

The government in Dubai is encouraging the construction of four-star hotels in order to cope with the influx. That is why we are looking for the right locations to develop hotels in the four-star category. The government is providing incentives to develop this segment of the hospitality industry, and we want to take advantage of the facilities on offer.

Following the real estate crash, is Dubai's new regulatory framework sufficient to prevent a repeat?

We observed the crisis without actually experiencing it thanks to our inherently conservative business strategy and portfolio. Meanwhile, the new regulatory framework appears to be a conservative action plan designed to simply prevent another crash. It certainly is the right policy to build walls that prevent a repeat of the crisis, and will be crucial going forward in curbing the effects of an unorganized sector.