Dr Juma Khalfan Belhoul Al Falasi, Founder of Gulf & World Traders (GWT), offers insight into 50 years of providing the region with advanced healthcare and his thoughts on handing over the reins of the business to the future generation
“This company is my father’s initiative to show pride in my medical education and service,” says Dr Juma Khalfan Belhoul Al Falasi, Founder of Gulf & World Traders (GWT), and member of the Belhoul Group.
Looking back with gratitude at the 50 years since achieving his dream to provide the region with the most advanced hi-tech healthcare-related products, he says, “It was probably the year 1969, when I was completing my medical studies in Cairo. I was required to do a project and wanted to buy a stethoscope and sphygmomanometer but it was unavailable here in the UAE. I arranged for it through a trader from Kuwait.”
This incident got Dr Belhoul Al Falasi thinking about this gap in medical needs and supplies. It was at this stage that he decided to develop a means to bridge the gap. “I was fortunate to have the support of my father,” he says. “In 1971, when I returned to my country as a doctor, the UAE had established its first cabinet after liberation and I was appointed Under Secretary for Ministry of Health. I undertook the opportunity to serve not just my government but also my dream business, which today stands at a golden milestone.”
GWT strongly believes in the significance of healthcare. “As human beings we are exposed to various illnesses,” says Dr Belhoul Al Falasi. “It is better to know the nature of these illnesses and prevent them even before onset. Understanding the causes helps keep ones health in good shape. Same applies to the health of a business. Ours is a people-oriented industry. It is therefore important to be a business of passion. One has to be very clear, very transparent and very honest in your deliverables. There is a delicate balance between human service and commercial returns. To be accepted by the community one must be from the same tribe to understand their needs, their pain and their joys. Trust is an investment that the clients and partners give an organisation. Using this investment we grow.”
Healthcare is all about relationships, explains Dr Belhoul Al Falasi, adding that trust is above all the most important currency that one handles in business — not just trust of the business with its partners and stakeholders but also with its end users and customers. “Transparency and honesty are the basics you have to work with,” he says. “This is the ethics of medicine. Do not just sell services, share the responsibility with the client.”
Looking at the future, Dr Belhoul Al Falasi is clear that it is time to hand over the reins of the business to the next generation. “People from my generation have worked hard in spite of the limitations in know-how, knowledge and education,” says Dr Belhoul Al Falasi. “Now there is advancement — not just in learning but also in thinking. Today’s generation use a different mentality, new approach and even the tools they have are not like the ones we used before. We have reached a stage now where we have built the business. It is time to welcome our sons, colleagues and youth to take the business a level up because they are more knowledgeable in technology and capable than us. Service no longer depends only on the person but also on technology. Therefore this is the right time to make the shift.
“Surely we as their elders will always be there by their side to offer guidance and support but we trust them with this freedom to decide and grow the business. My work is my legacy — it is my baby. I will be proud to see the new generation use my work as the foundation to build a stronger empire. With each generation a new height is to be achieved.”