How Emirati business leader Ismail Al Hammadi looks for opportunities in adversity
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How Emirati business leader Ismail Al Hammadi looks for opportunities in adversity

How Emirati business leader Ismail Al Hammadi looks for opportunities in adversity

Despite the many challenges the lie ahead for entrepreneurs and startups, here’s why he is optimistic about what’s coming this year

It’s not easy to lead during challenging times, but Ismail Al Hammadi, who runs two thriving businesses in the UAE – Al Ruwad Real Estate and Biznet Consulting – says tough phases help companies and their teams grow strong.

You have diversified operations across real estate and consulting. How was 2019 for your companies?
2019 was a challenging, yet beautiful year for us, as I believe that a team can grow strong in the face of challenges. Overcoming problems can prove to be extremely rewarding, and we’ve done really well in a very competitive market, especially when it comes to real estate.

There are talks that the Dubai property market has now bottomed out. What are your thoughts?
The current Dubai real estate market is in a very mature position right now, not only in terms of prices, but also incentives, payment plans, diversity and return on investment. I do believe that the market has bottomed out, and curbing new supply is a vital step to help it recover. Expo 2020 will play a huge factor as well, as there are 25 million visitors expected to arrive in Dubai for the big event. The Dubai real estate market should be ready to accommodate at least 5 per cent of them either as new investors looking for an opportunity, or as new residents who are willing to relocate to Dubai.

Dubai has announced the setup of a new real estate committee to address the demand-supply balance in the market. Will that help? Are more such measures needed?
The Dubai government has taken a necessary step to help balance the market and provide a healthy environment for investors and owners, as well as developers and brokers.

Apart from that, I believe each developer – big or small – holds the individual responsibility to concentrate mainly on their existing projects, rather than launching new ones before the current stock is sold or rented out. On the other hand, we also have to take into consideration that developers like Emaar or Dubai Holding are not building single projects, but entire communities, landmarks and destinations which have been shaping the face of Dubai for the past 20 years.

What are the plans for 2020 for Al Ruwad? Are you looking to expand your services?
As far as Al Ruwad Real Estate is concerned, we don’t have any plans to expand, but rather concentrate our efforts in supporting our business partners to achieve higher numbers in terms of transactions for ready units. We are also planning to continue with our initial strategy which helped us cement ourselves as one of the most trusted companies in plots sales, helping developers and individuals to own and develop land in Dubai.

Looking at your other venture, Biznet Consulting, what are the plans for 2020?
2020 will be a year of “deliveries” in Dubai, with many projects nearing completion before Expo 2020. Our plans include supporting those projects in terms of government relations, project management and business set up, apart from offering consultancy to investors and developers.

With Dubai set to host Expo 2020 this year, what kind of impact will the local business ecosystem feel?
I believe that the whole UAE business sector will benefit from Expo 2020, not only Dubai. The overall economic impact has already been estimated at 1.5 per cent of the total GDP, with a 2.8 per cent growth in the non-oil segment and 2.2 per cent economic growth altogether.

Needless to say, there will be many sectors which will benefit from this event. Sectors such as infrastructure and transportation, construction and real estate, logistics, hospitality and tourism, aviation, as well as SMEs operating in event management, marketing, advertising and F&B are going to benefit the most.

While the exact legacy of Expo 2020 is hard to estimate now, the investment climate remains positive, topped by infrastructure upgrades.

For startups, is now a good time to establish a business in the UAE?
I will let the numbers talk regarding this question. The Dubai Economic Department has announced that 38,377 new business licences were issued in 2019, creating 184,000 jobs, which means that there are solid economic reasons behind this record increase. With many non-oil sectors flourishing, there are plenty of business opportunities in each field to accommodate different needs in the market.

What are the main challenges that businesses face and how they can address them?
Every business comes with challenges, and in the UAE, since many business owners are expats, they need to adapt to the local culture, understand our values and abide by the rules. This is one of the reasons I started Biznet Consulting, which helps new companies establish themselves in Dubai from the formation process: choosing and obtaining a trade licence, renting an office, obtaining visas for their employees, applying and obtaining permits and so on. And from a project standpoint, we help with our government relations and project management services. I enjoy assisting startups and developers with their projects in Dubai – it helps me put my knowledge to good use.

Lastly, what are your three key tips for entrepreneurs?
From my experience and the challenges that I have faced in the past, my advice for entrepreneurs in UAE would be:

Make a solid business plan and prepare for financial challenges.

Find your own vision; do not copy what others are doing. Find your own way in the market and find a team that shares your determination.

Know the value of your product, the value of your services and the value of your business location.

And as an extra tip, don’t forget about the importance of marketing yourself and your company. You might do great things, but it won’t help if no one knows about it.

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