Unique interview with H.E. Mr. Zulfiquar Ghadiyali leading a prestigious royal family office in UAE. By, Cecilia Paolino-Uboldi, Chief Revenue Officer: OpenBrix.
OpenBrix: a start-up PropTech company that aims to transform the property market in the UK.
Founded in 1971, The UAE has rapidly grown from a Bedouin nation to one of the most powerful, oil-rich, nations in the world. Spearheaded by its founder, H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s vision, determination and resilience, who devoted his life to the service of his people, promoting education, employment and equality.
It is now that his grandson, H.H Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Saeed Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, takes that tradition forward and propels the UAE to the 21st century, leading on a history of thought leadership.
Through his family office under the guidance of H.E. Zulfiquar Ghadiyali, transforming the way they approach investments and what they look for, supporting impact investing and social entrepreneurship among their interests. Shaping the way, the region looks at investments and fundamentally setting the agenda for future business. Aiming at generating not just a financial return, but also a measurable social impact addressing the needs of consumers at the bottom of the pyramid.
In his role as CEO of the private office of H.H Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Saeed Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, His Excellency promotes the Al Nahyan’s family values, with a broader outlook of an interconnected globalized, more tolerant and diverse world.
For me, as someone who specializes in matchmaking, introducing investors to opportunities, it is fascinating to know how investment funds think and how they thrive to achieve their revenue goals. It is always uplifting to catch up with H.E. Zulfiquar Ghadiyali, a charismatic and remarkable individual that solemnly stands his role.
CPU: Could you please introduce your business?
HE ZG: We aim to leverage the augmented growth of companies setting up in the UAE, that are in perfect calibration to the country’s vision and future plans. Our partnerships necessitate sub-structuring & are inclusive of strategic initiatives, economic & political management, business & financial aid along with overall assistance for the MENA region.
The nucleus is to foster investments in the Emirates and the magnification of economic growth hand in hand.
CPU: How did you get to where you are?
HE ZG: The trajectory has always been a steady pursuit of self – growth. A fair understanding of different ventures, economies and people are an outcome of my choices in the spheres of education and experience working in distinct parts of the world.
I’m a thorough advocate of parallelism that simply implies that multitasking not only exists but is actually good. Conceptually enriching and enables more work to be done faster.
Sometimes when you concentrate on one component at a time there simply isn’t enough cognitive resource to go around, hence, the dealing must be multifold.
CPU: What is it that drives you; what is your idea of personal success?
HE ZG: The purpose is always to stay aligned to what creates fulfillment and is also connected to individual temperament. Empowerment of people has been a critical element to my being and a huge driver of my success in a personal and professional capacity.
CPU: The UAE is among the fastest growing economies in the world and the business hub for the entire region. What are the key factors that have driven that growth (has globalization and the region’s multiculturalism impacted the growth)?
HE ZG: First and foremost is the incredible leadership of the UAE that transpired the economy to be receptive to change and new ideas. The UAE administrative system is remarkably flexible and decentralized. As a consequence, each emirate takes its own decisions independently from each other and governs in their own style. The adaptive rhetoric is primarily of the foreign management and the willingness of the government to commission non-citizens to lead the huge projects in the Emirates. UAE is not only an ultra-modern federation with an impressive infrastructure but also an innovative and efficient role model of modern administration that can be replicated by modern cities that suffer mismanagement.
CPU: There is a lot of talk about globalization, what is your take on it and how does the UAE sit within this linked globalized economy?
HE ZG: Globalization is the key catalyst to the growth UAE is witnessing as of the present. It is essentially a movement of people, products and mainly ideas.
The cross-fertilization of ideas, people and inclusive government policy has further fuelled gateway to larger foreign direct investment and domestic investment that leverage on the strategic positioning of the country making it the most globalized country in the Middle East.
We globally encourage larger capacities of manufacturing and infra development to ultimately make available wider employment opportunities and boost culture enrichment in the Emirates.
CPU: There is increased focus on globalization in terms of driving business growth, but this contrasts with a lack of globalization when it comes to people movement and increasingly insular nationalistic policies (look at Brexit, or the USA imposing tariffs on imported goods). Is this the end of globalization?
HE ZG: Political instability observable in Europe and the United States takes multiple forms depending on the nature of the political system and the electoral rules that obtain in it.
However, the cause is the same: the transformation of the world economy. As we move toward ever more interconnectedness, an economy in which employees take their skills from one company to the next and both parents work, the challenge of forming coherent, stable political parties is magnified. Those countries able to keep unemployment and inequality within bounds will be more stable. The greater the levels of inequality and unemployment, the greater the political instability and the smaller the chance of achieving stable economic growth.
CPU: As a family office, how do you define success?
HE ZG: Family businesses are the global engine of business growth and wealth creation. In every country, family businesses represent a great majority of the total enterprise.
The success is the equilibrium and inter-connected worlds of family, business/finance, and personal development.
If the business produces wealth but the family fragments or experiences deep conflict, or young people grow up collectively unhappy, unproductive and unfulfilled, then the family office is unlikely to view itself as successful. Successful family offices rely on best practices from each of these areas or pathways – family, business and personal development.
CPU: Are there any fundamental differences in the way family offices undertake their investment approach?
HE ZG: Family offices segregate region wise strategy to invest in preserve, balanced and growth models of capital deployment.
The global composite portfolios witnessed higher percentage in tangible assets followed by equities, fixed income and developing markets. Also divesting funds from traditional sectors, and investing in food security, agriculture, alternative energy, and climate change.
The methods may differ, but the essence and purpose always remain similar; the creation of further wealth.
CPU: What do you look for in terms of investments?
HE ZG: The UAE is a fine model of political stability. Since its formation in 1971, the country has been a successful constitutional monarchy and continues to be so.
The economic stability and favourable regulations encourage growth and international participation. The Private Office supports companies by investing in their initiatives, to commence or upscale operations locally and beyond.
We partner, and we invest in several sectors ranging from infra, hospitality, manufacturing, defence, AI, energy, aerospace, healthcare and more.
CPU: There are a lot of ICOs out there looking for investment but unlike traditional businesses, they are looking for a significant investment before they have even started building the product or service. What do the companies need to do to get you engaged with them and their business?
HE ZG: Fintech is very much in its infancy. The fact that FinTech is parented by both the technology and financial industries opens the door for endless possibilities to invest.
The Private Office actively support initiatives in FinTech after careful due diligence and partnership to be able to deploy its capital. A partnership with the Private Office is critical to secure our interests and to encourage the integration of entities to have a local presence in the UAE.
CPU: You are a speaker at several events for family offices. What do you hope to learn from other family offices?
HE ZG: The key takeaway while meeting and collaborating with several family offices is by prompting reflection on yourself, your family, and your business.
Where is your family and your business in their lifecycles? Which of these practices do we employ at present? Which has resisted our implementation? Looking back, what experiences or stories have helped our family office recognize the importance of the practices we use? Most importantly, as we look forward, how do we define success, a shared family philanthropic and community service together?
To create intergenerational wealth, you need to collaborate, take more risk, execute a brilliant idea & do something different.