Dubai: Just off E611 on the Dubai-Al Ain highway, on the exit towards Al Dhaid, lies a sprawling yet nondescript equestrian club, home to over 40 horses. The City One Equestrian Club, nestled in the heart of Dubai’s bustling metropolis, is a tranquil oasis for equine enthusiasts.
The 15,000 sqm facility boasts state-of-the-art stables, an outdoor arena, and a desert course, providing ample space for horse riding and training to people of all ages. And Emran Gary, the club proprietor, is a young and dynamic Saudi entrepreneur with a passion for equines and an unwavering determination for success, evident in his diverse business ventures across UAE and Saudi Arabia.
The 35-year-old Saudi businessman has established five business ventures in six years across various industries while managing full-time jobs with some of the biggest American companies, including LinkedIn, Microsoft, Oracle, Procter and Gamble, and Unilever.
Gary’s business ventures include CousinED, a digital content marketing firm; CWI, a specialist firm that works with recruitment consultancies to hire workers for the government sector; SoloQI, a consumer electronics trading firm; AUZUA, a private equity investment and portfolio management company; and City One Equestrian Club.
“I am the co-founder of five businesses, and my role in these businesses mostly revolved around business development, strategy and growth. This is an ever-evolving role in any company, and it helps me juggle my corporate career as I leave the operations part of it to the experts,” he said.
Juggling a corporate job with entrepreneurship
Born and raised in Mecca and a student of engineering at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Gary says he is the only engineer in his family. “Most of my family is in the medical field. My father was a businessman, and my mother was most focused on the education aspect of our family. She was the dean of a university, and she has a knack for business, and she is someone I look up to for business advice,” he said.
After starting his career at Unilever in 2015, Gary realised he has a keen affinity towards industrial engineering and people management. “In P&G, I managed the company’s imports business,” he said.
However, the business bug bit Gary in 2017 when he worked for tech giant Microsoft’s sales team. He launched his first business venture CousinED during this time. Today, the digital content creation firm employs over 30 content creators, and the company’s clients include SkyPinz, The Cove Yanbu, Mercedes Benz and Colgate. The company recently acquired an audio production Samaa.
Gary’s government recruitment specialist firm has over 12 employees. SoloQI – based in Dubai – sells US-designed interactive wireless chargers and other products to consumers in the UAE and the rest of the GCC. The equestrian club in Dubai trains approximately 130 students every month.
AUZUA – the private equity and investment portfolio management company – is yet to become operational.
“With AUZUA, we are figuring out a way to make businesses investable and find common ground between different companies in which they can work together while keeping them mutually exclusive… We want to figure out a way to make two companies more appealing for joint investment,” he explained.
“The investment firm will act as an umbrella organisation with subject matter experts that can help formulate joint business strategies without ownership transfer.” The companies seeking investment can be at any point of their journey, he said. “They can be pre-MVP, post MVP, or they can be firms struggling with VC funding. Moreover, the business can be across sectors,” he added.
Vision 2030 spurs entrepreneurship
With a keen eye for opportunity, Gary said Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 inspires his relentless drive to turn ideas into reality. “This time is going to go into world history rather than Saudi history,” said Gary. The entrepreneur said Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) is excellently diversifying their investment while changing people’s perceptions of Saudi Arabia.
According to Gary, over 65 per cent of the Kingdom’s population consists of ambitious youth willing to work to bring Saudi Arabia into the future. “The youth are energetic and want to be on top of the world. Combine that with visionary leadership that has broken down the goals into the smallest KPIs and actionable plans. I believe it is the only combination that makes sense,” he said. “I know there is a lot of scepticism around the world on whether this dream can be achieved, but there is no other place in the world that can make these dreams come true,” Gary said.