Photo Credit: Mustapha Azab


With dynamic market conditions, new business opportunities, and the upcoming Expo 2020, this is an important year for businesses based in the UAE

UAE-based billionaire businessman Ghassan Aboud has operations across the world. And despite daunting economic conditions, his eponymous group is continuing to expand and looking at new sectors. Speaking to Gulf Business, he says the key to success is to remain alert and seek the hidden opportunities, while remaining focused on the details.

How has 2019 and the last decade been for your business and what do you anticipate going into 2020?
During 2019 we continued with our investment plans in the areas of hospitality, retail and logistics. The last decade has been eventful with initial years of recovery from the financial crisis and later on, adverse economic conditions that haven’t seen a full recovery. At our group we have been diversifying our investment portfolio into a few strategic sectors.

In 2020, we aim to continue with these plans, while closely watching regional and global economic factors.

Geo-politics, trade disruptions and a slowing global economy are all casting a dark cloud on businesses – especially those engaged in cross border operations such as Ghassan Aboud Group (GAG). Are you seeing any major impact? How do you deal with such issues?
These are typically the uncertainties that are beyond the control of any business. And we have to deal with them as efficiently as possible. Of course the impact on business is substantial, but it makes us more alert to opportunities. At GAG we try to stay close to our customers and markets – to anticipate and understand changes and disruptions. And act promptly.

Also, having invested heavily in Australia, have you been affected by the bushfire crisis in the country?
I would like to send my sincerest condolences to all of the Australians who have been affected by the bushfires. It has been heartbreaking to see the devastating effects to people, towns, bushland and wildlife.

The people of Australia have shown their true strength and comradery during these times of hardship.

Australia is a huge continent and Crystalbrook Collection [hotel group under GAG] has been very fortunate not to be directly impacted by the fires, however, understandably, there are concerns about the messaging being received by international tourists and the impact this may have on future tourism.

Speaking to my team in Australia, the message is clear: Don’t put off your trip to Australia. The best thing you can do to help is come and see for yourself this beautiful and resilient country. Australia will not be broken, do come and appreciate its wonder and beauty.

Coming back to the region, Expo 2020 is set to begin in Dubai later this year. Will it change the landscape for regional businesses?
We keenly await Expo 2020 and the positive impact it can bring to the UAE. The expected increase in visitors during the six months could potentially act as a catalyst for the country to recharge its growth plans, and also provide an opportunity for businesses to scale up and reap the benefits of greater consumption.

The UAE has also introduced measures such as the gold card residency visa. How will they impact the market?
The measures undertaken by the UAE such as the gold card visa, and more recently the five-year tourist visa would make the country more attractive for foreigners to consider stable investments. It seems that the country will continue to offer these incentives in a progressive manner.

Looking ahead, as a diversified company, do you see particular market segments showing the most promise?
E-commerce and logistics seem to be segments to watch. Also, here in the UAE, there is an increased emphasis on innovation and technology. Businesses should align themselves in these areas and bring in the expertise.

You had mentioned to Gulf Business last year that you were considering opportunities in the tech space. Any updates on that front?
We are working on these initiatives and they will be launched in 2020.

Geographically, are you considering any new markets?
Our market exposure is already wide and we will continue to focus on existing regions.

What is your advice to new entrepreneurs? What are the key things they should always keep in mind?
If you believe in an idea, persevere until the end. Form strong teams and have an eye on details.

Lastly, what are your plans for the future – both on a personal and professional front?
Currently the plans are centred around business development and also our humanitarian activities.


View the full article at: Gulf Business