Running the largest private property developer in the UAE, Hussain Sajwani is an iconic business leader that helped to shape Dubai and the Middle East. With an estimated fortunes of four billion, the chairman of DAMAC Properties has re-invented the UAE luxury real estate market since 2002.
Born in 1956, the DAMAC owner built his business empire from scratch. With an eye for details and extravagant marketing, Hussain Sajwani oversees a financial empire that has expanded rapidly in North Africa, Qatar, and other parts of the region.
Life wasn’t always easy, though. Starting at the age of three, Hussain Sajwani worked in his father’s shop in the Deira Souk. Against his father’s advice, he headed to Irak, to study medicine, only to fail and head to the U.S. for an engineering degree.
Graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in engineering and economics, he looked for entrepreneurial opportunities. One of the first opportunities was to sell timeshare products in the UAE, a business jump started his real estate career.
But the significant shift came in 2001. That year, Dubai allowed foreigners to own property.
Hussain Sajwani rightly spotted the opportunity, and in 2002 he put the base for DAMAC Properties, a business that now employs over two thousand people and delivers over twenty thousand properties in the Dubai luxury segment.
Everywhere you go in Dubai, one of the eighty towers belongs to DAMAC Properties, constantly reminding you of the empire Hussain Sajwani built. And, he has even greater plans for the future.
With a hard-working attitude, Hussain Sajwani balances his time between running his empire and contributing to various charities, helping those in need but also supporting entrepreneurs in the Arab world.
The road to building DAMAC Properties started with successes and failures in various other business areas. From fast food to selling cars, and even investing in the Oman stock exchange, the story of Hussain Sajwani tells a life of a person born to do business.
After successfully avoiding the Oman stock market crash in 1998, he used the profits to enter the Dubai property market. This was his first contact with the property market, and the quick profit made after selling three hotels opened Sajwani’s eyes for more.
However, the technology boom in the United States attracted him and in the same year he flew to the U.S. to be part of it. It wasn’t a success story. Despite the promising industry, the tech boom busted. Sajwani managed to break even and waited for his chance.
And that chance came with the opening of the Dubai property market in 2001. With an eye for big things and respect for the way the Americans do business, the DAMAC owner invested heavily in one of the most promising real-estate markets.
Since the introduction of freehold ownership rights for expatriates in Dubai, DAMAC Properties focused on unit sales in properties like Marina Terrace and The Waves in Dubai Marina.
With a growing business and projects to handle, the DAMAC owner started to open international sales offices. After only a few years in business, DAMAC Properties became the first company to introduce master plan developments launched by the Dubai government.
It wasn’t long before the DAMAC owner started to look at other potential markets. The first project about came in 2007 with the development of Al Jawharah project in Saudi Arabia.
With over seven thousand units sold by 2008, DAMAC Properties was on the road to become the powerhouse it is today, handling several prestigious projects around the world in cities like Riyadh, Beirut, London, Jeddah, Doha, and so on.
Around the year 2010, the first collaboration with a global fashion brand started. The project, called DAMAC Tower by Versace, in Beirut, Lebanon, set the stage for the association with other luxury brands. Today, DAMAC Properties sells luxury villas and apartments with interior designs from houses like Fendi, Versace, Just Cavalli, Bugatti, etc.
Seven years ago, the DAMAC owner set the course for a new venture: the DAMAC Maison, the DAMAC Properties hospitality arm.
Perhaps the most famous association came in 2013. DAMAC Properties announced the development of two Trump-branded golf courses in Dubai developments, managed by The Trump Organization. On top of that, the design belongs to Tiger Woods, indicating once again the ambitions of Hussain Sajwani to bring world famous names and brands in his businesses.
It is no wonder that under the DAMAC owner’s leadership, DAMAC Properties tops the list of fastest growing companies worldwide. So, what’s next?
The story continues. A new international collaboration with Just Cavalli has just been announced, while the company was chosen to build a historic port transformation of Oman’s waterfront tourist development.
Knowing Sajwani’s ambition to succeed and build big businesses, the expansion is poised to continue. Today, Dubai is a landmark of opportunities on the property market, but also will set a precedent of how to build responsible, with taste and great customer attention.
This is, perhaps, the key to the DAMAC owner’s success: he pays the utmost respect to customers, something he learned from his time in the United States of America.
A family man with a great sense of business, Hussain Sajwani takes off a month every year, in the summer, to spend time with his family. After all, as he says, he loves business, but the family always comes first.
Listed among the one hundred most influential Arabs, Hussain Sajwani definitely shaped the way Dubai looks on the international stage. With a taste for the big-scale project, nothing seems impossible for this man. And, for a good reason!
“With dedication, desire and determination, anything is possible.” – Hussain Sajwani