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Secret Life of Hussain Ali Habib Sajwani

Secret Life of Hussain Ali Habib Sajwani

Hussain Ali Habib Sajwani : the man behind Damac

September 22, 2008 7:31 by



The Work

According to the official history, the specialist catering company launched in 1982 slowly expanded into real estate, hospitality, insurance, investments, logistics and commercial trading. Damac now has regional offices across the world, in most of the GCC countries, the UK, Russia, Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan and Iran.

But today the Damac name is synonymous with Damac Properties, the real estate arm founded in 2002.

The developer soon became famous for its incredible promotional offers. In 2006, one promotion gave away Jaguar cars as an incentive to buyers. Later, it was tickets to the World Cup in Germany. After that, the company was giving away the keys to small studio apartments in its developments to any takers of larger units. It also promised to give away Bentley cars at one point. During this year’s Dubai Shopping Festival, it was private islands and jet planes.

Yet for all its flashy promotions, the company has often been criticized for lack of delivery: By one count, as of the first quarter of 2008, Damac had completed only three of the more than 70 projects it launched in Dubai over that last six years. The company defends itself by pointing out that delays are the norm in Dubai – citing, for instance, the region’s shortage of labor, which had led many developers to struggle to keep up with the workload.

Meanwhile, residents of Marina Terrace and the Waves, two of Damac’s completed projects, also complained of poor construction quality that led, for instance, to burst water pipes. Again, such complaints are all too common in Dubai in general.

Most recently, the negative publicity surrounding Damac came to head when the company tried to cancel its Palm Springs development on the Palm Jebel Ali, claiming that changes to the master plan had made the project unworkable. But after protests and threats of lawsuits from investors who had already bought units – some on the secondary market – the company backed off and agreed to revive the project.

“Damac takes the criticism and negative publicity very seriously and strives to make our company the best in the business,” says Sajwani in response to these complaints. “However, when you get to the size of business that we are, and as the largest privately owned property developer, we will naturally be targeted. An example is that if someone is going to target the fast food industry, they will naturally target McDonald’s.”

Many people active on the Dubai real estate market claim Damac has essentially been following a pyramid financing structure. They say it has been raising money from financiers with the promise of new projects, but then using that money to fund earlier unfinished developments that have gone over budget.

“Basically, to maintain funding as a developer, you have to continue to come up with new projects,” says one Dubai-based real estate consultant. “This isn’t purely a Damac thing. This is a thing that’s coming with a lot of developers…. You have a system whereby each [unfinished] project is being repair-funded, as we call it, by the project that is currently being discussed in the media.”

There have even been rumors that the company has received monetary support from the Dubai government to boost its cash reserves. Sajwani flatly denies this. “The government of Dubai is of great overall support to us, but we have not been involved in any financial support from them,” he says.

As a private company, the company’s finances are a closely held secret. However, it certainly appears to have enough cash to invest heavily abroad. In 2006, it unveiled the La Residence by Ivana Trump, a $150m, 27-story luxury apartment tower in Beirut’s downtown district. Last year, Damac reached an agreement with the Egyptian government regarding the $16bn Gamsha Bay development, which will cover total of 320 million square feet. And in June this year, it signed an agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq for a $4.5bn real estate project.



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9 Comments

  1. Angelina on September 29, 2008 9:23 pm

    Hi there,
    This is to let you know more about the difficulties that an employee is facing in Damac properties.No proper actions taken even if his or her grievance is informed.Buerocracy ,Politics all factors make an employee frustrated by working with this company.I was an employee with Damac properties and have some how escaped from the torture upon Gods grace recently .I was an employee with damac properties working with a department which is lead by a female-Director .People from outside finds this as the best department in the company.But Im sure the employees in this department are totally frustrated with her tortures,she screams to everyone as if all the employees are her servants and if she finds that the staff is a bit strong then she will start taking revenge in her own ways and finally the employee will end up in giving his or her resignation.I believe the higher ups are aware about her charecter but she is so cunning and smart enough .I strongly believe if the HR try to have a confidential talk with this department junior employees and if the HR is supportive they can get the sam,e feedback .Lets see what defined in the HR policies of Damac is true or not .I challenge ,nothing will happen or no actions will be taken against this lady.My advice to the job seekers and people who have got an offer in your hand and dreaming about a career growth with this company specially this departmnet.Salary hikes are just labels which a person can achieve if this lady finds him dumb enough to bear all the shits from her.Please rethink ,Its hard to escape as its a trap and the we get a ban fr 1 year if we quit at any time.

     
  2. ahmed elhaddad on November 4, 2008 12:28 pm

    LOL

    what is happen to Angelina Now?

    hello we are in arab world

     
  3. maria on November 5, 2008 11:02 am

    angelina, read your post. There are at least a thousand people who agree that damac is nothing but a turture cell. People kept crying for an hr department. They hired the best hr guy in the country but he too became a victim of all the politics. They fired him and the entire hr department this week. Hope damac closes down fast before it spoils more than the thousand current lives it is spoiling.

     
  4. The Don on January 18, 2009 11:26 am

    So I got layed off on 11/11. Still have not had my NOC. Only got my settlement money when I threatened to go to the police after more than 1 month. They still have my passport. It is hard to get a job. Damac have not been helpful at any stage. I have to always chase for my NOC. They always give excuses. When some of the HR persons get layed off, I hope they get to taste their own rude behaviour. If this was the UK, I would have long sued both Hussain Sajwani & Peter Riddoch. They are as corrupt as the company. Even til today staff who still work there don’t get paid on time and neither do ‘3rd party’ agents. Damac needs to change its attitude as we didn’t ask to leave. I was bought over from the UK and layed off in under 5months. I was given 5 hours notice and told to pack. How do you explain something like this to your wife & kids who also now live in the ‘land of dreams’.
    Disgusting behaviour by all at the top. Never mind customer service, HR couldn’t give a toss about ex-staff service. They are like robots. You send long winded emails asking what is going on and when my paperwork will be issued and they send back ONE line replies…eventually!

    The non-existent UAE Govt. should have stepped in. The banks froze my money and my account. How do you live? HH, Sheikh Mohd, cries out, “Build it and they will come”. Well, how about giving some assistance to the workers who do build it and sell it. Who, when they lose their jobs, shouldn’t be told that you have ‘only 30 days to stay’ once the company’s cancel your visa.

    No assistance is provided whatsoever. Having now lived here for 12 months, it has become so clear to see that money can be made here, but we, the hard working people, need to be given a chance. Rents so high (why do we have to pay in 1 or 2 chq’s), rest of the world can get by on monthly basis. Inflation running in double figures, roads being dug up everywhere, etc. They say there is no tax, but then what is Salik, also looking to introduce VAT. If you peel the top layer off this country, then you will see what it actually is…a nice clean, un-organized THIRD world state. Dubai makes money from Visa’s & misery of those who are left looking for guidance. I pity this country.

     
  5. Shane on December 22, 2009 7:11 am

    Damac is a good company, as due to economic crisis still this company pays in time to staff, as what i have seen in so many other company which is worse to compare to. what is there to complain about. The only thing is service not so good and staff in outlets are un professional, example in restaurant call Blues, Managers are all idiots and just taking salary for doing nothing, playing games with computers, playing with staffs when customers is dining, no proper rules regulations. How can management fooling around with staff during working hrs? This is a disgrace to the employer.Totally not fair for the company. Even poor personal hygiene Managers in F&B can be employed in Damac, Check it out in Blues then u will know, which is unbelieveble, yakkkk. totally disgusting. Hopefully it will change, coz the restaurant had been a good name for years, the company can afford to pay , why dont pay for a better staff. This should be consider.

     
  6. attary taoufik on February 10, 2010 3:52 pm

    ok let me give you a point about damak , i was an AC mechanic in damac aljazira qatar and i spend 2 years with a diferents nationality in this team , i think it s a good company with a good people who managing services, i m moroccan and i hope to comback a day

     
  7. Shane on February 27, 2010 8:42 pm

    Shane on December 22nd, 2009 at 7:11 am:

    Damac is a good company, as due to economic crisis still this company pays in time to staff, as what i have seen in so many other company which is worse to compare to. what is there to complain about. The only thing is service not so good and staff in outlets are un professional, example in restaurant call Blues, Managers are all idiots and just taking salary for doing nothing, playing games with computers, playing with staffs when customers is dining, no proper rules regulations. How can management fooling around with staff during working hrs? This is a disgrace to the employer.Totally not fair for the company. Even poor personal hygiene Managers in F&B can be employed in Damac, Check it out in Blues then u will know, which is unbelieveble, yakkkk. totally disgusting. Hopefully it will change, coz the restaurant had been a good name for years, the company can afford to pay , why dont pay for a better staff. This should be consider.

     
  8. Nedal Jaber on August 10, 2010 11:08 pm

    Mr. Hussain Sajwani ,
    i have always admired you , since the first day we met.
    Wish you all the best

    Best Regards,

     
  9. GORILLA TREKKING on January 5, 2013 5:55 pm

    great information. Thanks alot

     

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