It is a special weekend for Emiratis and expats living in the UAE as the nation celebrates its 48th national day.
And we could not think of a more appropriate person to feature in our series than Saeed Khalifa Mohammed Al Fuqaei Al Ali, 43, Chairman of Shuraa Group, an Emirati who by no means did not achieve his success of becoming a multi-millionaire that he is today without a good amount of effort from his end.
“Trust me, just because I am an Emirati, it is not that I have had it easy at all. I came from a humble background. But our values were strong. My father taught me two things and they are edged in my memory. Honesty and hard-work are key to anyone’s success and I have stuck by this mantra,” said Saeed.
His father's values
His father, Khalifa Mohammed Al Fuqaei is often referred to as the ‘King of the Sea’. Born in 1921, Khalifa, who died in 2014, was known for his foresight and resourcefulness to develop shipping trade with numerous countries even before the UAE was formed. The same ambitions have trickled down to Saeed, who has also strived to maintain his independent ideals.
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For the record, as chairman of Shuraa Group, Saeed runs a number of businesses with a man-power of 105 staff since the company’s inception in 2001. The turnover of the business runs into millions and it is safe to say he [Saeed] is a multi-millionaire.
But know this back in 1999, Saeed had no clue that he would one day head a big firm like the Shuraa Group.
“My father used to captain big wooden ships. He was born in 1921 and died 2014. So you can imagine life those days. My father used to share stories of how he would travel to Africa, India and other places on his wooden ship transporting people from Dubai. He was a very skilled person. Just imagine he was manning a ship without engine and travelling all the way to Africa and India. It used to take him almost a month to reach India from Dubai. Navigation was not as advanced as it is today. So it would be his foresight, vision that would successfully complete his voyage. And so when he tells me hard-work pays I believe him,” said Saeed.
Saeed said he belongs to a family of 16 siblings. “Sadly I lost an older sister in 2016.”
His childhood was spent with parents and siblings. “My father was not born rich as a lot of people think about Emiratis. We were all not born with a silver spoon so to speak. My father for example worked for a living. He used to initially work from Ras Al Khaimah and my father tells me life was hard back then. No electricity, no water, the houses were not made of concrete either. But by the time I was born, my parents lives had improved. They had moved to Dubai and their life-style greatly improved.”
Starting out on his own
Saeed is pretty much a self-made man. He has ideals and stuck to them.
“I started a typing centre in Rashidiya in 1999. But soon after opening the centre, I realised there were many people who were clueless about so many things like procuring a Trade License, a visit visa and other things. They were clueless about the paper-work required, the documentation process.”
And so Saeed decided to step up and launch Shuraa Management consultancies. As the demand grew, so did his business.
Setting up the Shuraa business
Today Shuraa Business is a leading firm that helps in company formation in the UAE. It offers business set up service in the region. The services include issuing UAE Trade License services, business set up service, business sponsorship, Investor visas and other PRO services. The company also does license renewals and has a dedicated in-house Tasheel Centre at the head office.
“There was little help available to advise or guide them. So I took the opportunity and started Shuraa Management consultancies two years later.”
Building a reputation
Through the decades Saeed has established a reputation of a prominent businessman in the UAE and the region. People far and wide come to seek his advise on how to set up a company in the UAE. He has developed opportunities not only for himself but for several other ambitious entrepreneurs in the UAE.
When he launched the Shuraa business set up in 2001, the agenda was to help business personnel with the documentation of a business set up in Dubai. “Since I was a child, I have always been interested in global and local business environment. I explored and understood that international companies find it hard to start a company in the UAE. I decided to do something about it."
We help companies liase with the Dubai Economic Department. The fastest Trade License we have issued up to now is three hours. The best thing about UAE government authorities is that if you have all paper work in place – the process of completing formalities gets done really quickly.”
Saeed attributes much of his success to the 105 strong team of people who work for him. “My success is not a result of me alone. My team is responsible for it. We are like one big family.”
Being an Emirati in the UAE
Being a Federation, all the seven emirates of UAE follow separate guidelines and rules. Doing business is different in all Emirates. It is a challenge keeping pace with the rules, regulations and their updates. “We are seeing a rise in number of Emiratis, especially millennials who want to be on their own and run their own set up and business. This is very encouraging. There is a lot of potential among Emiratis that needs to be yet tapped. Am also seeing a lot of women coming out of their comfort zone to be independent and I am very proud of that as an Emirati.
“The UAE celebrates 48th National Day next week and we have come a long way. Emiratis have come out strong to show their potential. Whether it is equipping themselves with education, a skill, they are working hard to make a name for themselves. I am glad I am part of this fraternity.”