Stock - Hussain Sajwani of Damac
Hussain Sajwani has always been quick to spot the next big trend or market. He is betting big that his strategy in real estate development can help with the new data center business, Edgnex. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai’s Hussain Sajwani, founder of Damac Properties, is taking up his next big business challenge – to build data centers. And these plans are not just for the UAE and the Gulf, but “anywhere from Ireland to Tokyo”.

A new company, Edgnex, set up to handle this build-and-lease of data centers is 100 per cent owned by Sajwani. The business of data centers is a multi-billion dollar industry as the digital economy keeps on adding more data from the way consumers and businesses use it. All of that data churn out needs to be stored and managed, which is where Edgnex can help.

Stock - Edgnex
What one of the Edgnex data centers will look like.

Sajwani says that not being an out-and-out tech company is not an issue at all. “At the end of the day, data center business is very much like a high-end hotel,” he said. “Buy a piece of land at the right location, build up to very high-end specs and then lease it out to the hyper-scalers and big retailers who needs to manage their data.

“Our role and function are quite clear – we get the permits from the authorities and build and design a building to fit the needs of our tenants. What we need to do is ensure constant power and the highest degree of web connectivity to the buildings.”

Intensely competitive

In the UAE, the likes of Khazna and the telecom giants have their own data center operations. Edgnex, however, wants to scale both within the UAE and outside from the get-go. “As I said, Ireland to Tokyo is where we want to be,” said Sajwani. “There’s also the CIS, Turkey and Africa. Europe and Asia is where we plan to go big, but we won’t get into North or South America. They are too far off.”

In Saudi Arabia, plots have been bought, and elsewhere negotiations are on. On whether data centers aren’t too capital intensive, Sajwani said: “They are and they do take time to return profits. But you still have the underlying asset, which is the land and building, and that will continue to appreciate. Just the way good hotels at great locations do.”

A team has been put together to take the Edgnex project forward. Sajwani said he’s open to alliances from tech majors if they come calling. “Anyone who will add value for us is welcome.”

Why go global?

On the real estate development side, Sajwani had taken a step-by-step strategy. Starting off in Dubai, he added new markets, including launching a super-luxury project in London.

Then, why opt to go for multiple global markets at the same time with Ednex? “I have got the experience of being in 15 markets (with Damac,” he said. “I wanted this to be a global company and not limit ourselves to any one place.

“Covid has been a major factor in bringing about a world of change. It has meant a faster move for everyone towards digital economies. When everything gets done on the phone, there is a need to increase the data space.”

That’s the need Edgnex and Sajwani wants to fill.