Juma Al Majid stands in the Juma Al Majid Centre. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: Dedication and hard work have nurtured the transformation of the UAE from a tribal community to a metropolitan country, the witness to the past eight decades of the UAE, Juma Al Majid, narrates how he grew along with Dubai.

Well-known not only in the UAE but in the Arab and Islamic world, Juma Al Majid is like every man but no one is like him. His story is like the story of Dubai. From humble beginnings Al Majid has been able to build a business empire and owns more than 40 companies employing more than 8,000 staff.

He said the union has helped to build from scratch a country with one of the most  open economies.

“The wise vision of our rulers had the main impact of changing our simple life and pushing us to work hard to grow as fast as the UAE and [we are] still growing.”
Repeating a famous saying, Al Majid said: “If you want to exist you have to work.”
And the emirates is working hard, he added.

He recalled the words of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at a gathering of Emiratis to look forward and forget the past, Al Majid said that it is enough to understand that the UAE is going forward.

“I want also to stress here that challenges are always there but at the same time there is no need to worry.

Could you recollect the formative days of the UAE – the 1970s? How was business then? What were the challenges and how did you overcome those then?

Not only before the union, but throughout its history the emirates has adopted the policy of an open economy. It was the only country which did business with communist countries.

Before the Second World War, the Gulf countries including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE, were rich countries living in prosperity while relying on the main resources like the sea, the desert and trade.

Pearl diving was their main profession at that time. He said the profession taught Emiratis how to be patient and persistent.

“I used to go on board with my father during the summer for three months. It was the most difficult work I have ever had in my life,” he said.

What was the most memorable event in your business career over the last four decades?

The UAE federation is the best thing that happened to the emirate. It has extended the borders of our emirates, unified our people, empowered the UAE structure across all levels.

Our rulers are not selfish. They united for the sake of their country and their people.
The union then transformed  the UAE into a better country in terms of living and doing business. Proper infrastructure was built, roads, hospitals, electricity, water, schools in addition to open business policies were put in place.

As business grew and the environment changed, how did you change your organisation and business to adapt to the changes?

Like other traders who has build business empires in the UAE, Al Futtaim, Al Ghurair, Al Habtoor, Seddiqi, Al Fahim and others, after the UAE Federation was formed I left the gold business as the trade and development projects in the new country presented greater opportunities.

These businessmen have worked very hard to grow with the UAE and contributed to developing the country’s  institutions and organisations that today we do rely on.

The UAE market expanded and I realised that the country would need development projects and therefore we should invest in contracting and engineering.

Traders are very focused and always look after their interest and where their profit lies.

What are the major contributing factors to the success of your business? How did the UAE’s progress compliment your business’ growth?

Stability and security are the main factors that contributed to the unprecedented growth of the UAE. The country’s stability and the safe business environment have led to this success.

Everyone who lives in the UAE whether Emirati or expatriate has the freedom of thinking and wealth management.

Wherever there is growth there is freedom, and this is what we have in the UAE.
My passion and dedication to work, faith and trust are the secret of my success.

Now that the UAE has achieved such a huge success, as has your business — how do you see the country’s overall economic progress?

The UAE has one of the most stable economies in the world. Despite the fact that the UAE is an open market and has exposure to markets worldwide,  there is no need to worry.  The emirates enjoy one of the best infrastructures, facilities and most developed policies.

I will mention here the words of our leaders. Just a few days ago, Shaikh Mohammad called upon us at a lunch gathering for Emiratis to look forward and forget the past. It is enough to understand that the UAE is going forward.

Where do the challenges and opportunities lie?

Opportunities are everywhere in the UAE.

I want also to stress here that challenges are always there but at the same time there is no need to worry.

There will be no Arab Spring in the Emirates. The revolutions emerged in the countries where there is submission and oppression. We are a free country and our people are free.

Leaders in the UAE are very tolerant and honest and do care about their people. They work hard to provide the Emiratis with the best living standards while protecting their rights.

I call upon all Arab leaders to liberate their people and unite for the sake of their country and people as the UAE did.