Blog Interviews LifeStory World

Born To Inspire

Firdouz Hameed

The CEO & Founding Partner of Ayana Holding was in the list of 100 Most Inspiring Leaders in the Middle East last year. Some of his other achievements were being awarded the Middle East Best Brand in Real Estate sector, Most Advanced Leader of Asia Award, Young CEO of the year award, Dubai’s Most influential People in Emirate Award, Inspiring Leaders in the Middle East award, 40 under 40, etc. 

Hamid Kerayechian had a wonderful childhood. He is someone who still keeps contact with his childhood friends. 

After completing his Master’s Degree in Engineering from the University of South California, he moved to Dubai. Today, he settled there with a beautiful wife and two daughters.

“We’re very grateful to live here. Dubai is safe, modern and full of great opportunities, you just need to respect the culture, put in the hard work and you’ll be on the rise in no time!” says Hamid. 

Ayana Holding has created a network of companies on a global level. How do you manage to succeed in each of these different sectors?

We have invested heavily in the talent we partner with and employ. Every single manager working under the Ayana Holding umbrella is driven and tenacious with relevant industry expertise.

Our leadership style is one that empowers rather than micro-manages. We encourage creative thinking and give our team the freedom to explore new ideas. Meanwhile, they have a solid infrastructure to rely on a diverse network of contacts to tap into, enabling them to materialize their ambitions.

Out of all these verticals under the company, which one is the most successful one? Is it the boom in that particular sector that makes it so successful or is it because of the expertise of the team working on it? 

Each company in our group holds a prominent position within its niche market. The purpose behind each company is to fill a strategic gap and offer industry expertise in its respective sector.

The success of each company within our group is attributed to the team managing it. Their knowledge and business acumen, as well as their ability to adapt to market trends and leverage opportunities, are what enable them to excel in the ever-changing landscape of business.

You’re known as someone who thinks out of the box. For instance, I believe you’re keen on using technology like AR/VR to increase the customer experience, especially, in your hospitality firm. Is there any noticeable difference in the outcome after adopting such innovative ideas? 

We use AR/VR for leisure and entertainment concepts and property sales. We also promote the implementation of a variety of property technologies such as smart home IoT, GRSM solutions and wellness solutions. The goal is to educate our partners on the real benefits and ROI of PropTech, ConTech and related solutions from a sustainability and efficiency perspective.

They say UAE is the best place to make real estate investments, because of the price drop. But there are also a few who believe that the excess of construction projects may cause some problems. Do you feel there could be an oversupply crisis in real estate? 

Dubai is a global platform for the entire region, serving 2.4 billion consumers and the real estate industry has been the catalyst for the city in the last 20 years. We are in a cycle that fluctuates every seven to ten years, and as leaders, our role is to find out how to leverage the challenges and transform them into opportunities.

At Ayana Holding, we have been working on a large hospitality framework that will create a positive impact on the oversupply. Dubai government is aware of the situation and has established a real estate planning committee to achieve an equilibrium of supply and demand.

New government incentives and reforms will unfold right after Expo 2020 to attract international visitors; astonishing the world with its resilience once again.

At present, 1% of total office spaces in Dubai is taken up by co-working spaces. But in the coming years that number is expected to see an astronomical rise. This makes several major players interested in providing flexible spaces. As someone involved in the business, what are some of the perks that your co-working space provides to the entrepreneurs? 

Our Network. We have created a solid ecosystem of service providers and trading companies in the real estate realm. For example, if a client walks in seeking particular expertise in leisure or entertainment for his project, I can just pick up the phone and ask Thomas – the MD of our company M2L, to join us for a meeting and he will guide and support the client with anything he needs.

Similarly, we have opened our doors to external companies in the real estate industry – companies that can benefit from the network we have established for our holding company. You’d be amazed at how many decision-makers walk into our offices on a daily basis from all over the world. Some have likened our office to a think-tank for anything related to the real estate industry.

Moreover, the spacious nature of co-working spaces creates a relaxed and free-flowing environment that promotes creativity as well as collaboration – two important ingredients for a project to succeed especially in this day-and-age.

Despite the Brexit issue, your investors from the GCC are more inclined towards investing in the property market of the UK. Why is that so when several other countries like Thailand, which offers a higher yield? Also, which are the other regions that Ayana Properties are keen on investing in 2020? 

The property market in the UK currently offers a fantastic opportunity for Dollar-denominated buyers to capitalize on the weak pound which had fallen near to 17% in the last few years. The recent general election victory has increased confidence and improved the GBP, bringing the Brexit debate to a close. A Central London home was sold for £65 million after the recent election following the trend of increased confidence.

The UK has a long-standing record of an upward trending real estate market, with a growth of 10% in property prices on average year on year throughout London in the last decade. The UK is a stable market with low risk which investors must have a foot in.

Lastly, the UK is GCC friendly. Many members of the GCC visit on a yearly basis because so many pockets of London have been catered to them. London also offers a level of luxury that suits the tastes of GCC visitors, allowing them to feel at home and on holiday at the same time.

Ayana Properties has expansion plans throughout 2020 and Dubai is a market that will be exploring further.

It is believed that your conglomerate is looking to further expand its services to several other sectors. Which are these?

We’re always looking to expand our services, with a keen eye on up and coming trends within all sectors. We are currently structuring a real estate investment fund. Our operational model will be different than any other because our core focus is cash yield which is backed up by high performing assets. Property development and AI will be on our future agenda as well.

Furthermore, we’ve recently launched our creative agency – Brand Capital, where we offer branding, content and marketing services to businesses of all sectors. In the digital era of social media, knowing how to stand out and communicate with customers in every way possible, leads to better visibility and brand-recall which are crucial for the survival of businesses in a market saturated with brands.

A lot of Emirati entrepreneurs are looking to start their own business in 2020. Predictions say there will be a 150% increase in a number of Emirati entrepreneurs. How all can Ayana Holding support them to find success?

We always welcome good ideas – we meet with Chairmen, CEOs, investors, and entrepreneurs every day. Ayana Holding can support entrepreneurs in various ways through funding, network, facilitating access to customers, partnerships, and mentorship.

Out of all these countries, you’ve made an impact on, which one do you feel has the most ease of doing business? 

It’s less about which country is easier to do business with and more about learning how to do business with people from different cultures. The key is to be adaptable and understand the nuances of each person as well as their background. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Learning how to work with people of all cultures is part of what makes you a successful businessman.

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