Invest GCC 2024 January Issue 2

Federation of GCC Chambers INVEST GCC: DAVOS 2024 ISSUE NO. 2 VOLUME 2 | JANUARY 2024


Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman of Danube Group


Rebuilding Trust at Davos 2024


Riyadh Expo 2030 will transform Saudi economy



Your Passport to Paradise Experience laid-back luxury at Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island where white-sand shores and crystal-clear waters await.

Visit for more information.


Federation of GCC Chambers


04 05 11

FGCCC Chairman’s Message

Editor’s Note


Cover story Dubai’s 1% man Opinion by Dr Sana Sajan CEOs @ 30


21 24 26 33 34 36 38 40 42

BRICS Expansion

GCC Focus

Viewpoint by Mr. Abdulla Al Sultan

Travel & Tourism

Healthcare Outlook

Tech & Innovation


CEOs on Davos 2024


Sales & Marketing Consultants: MAMTA PILLAI

This Magazine is printed & produced for the Federation of GCC Chambers, with sales & marketing managed by Strategic Advertising Solutions FZ LLC,. Opinions herein are the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the FGCCC or SAS Media FZ LLC. Editorial enquiries concerning the reproduction of articles, advertising and circulation should be addressed to: INVEST GCC: DAVOS 2024 Strategic Advertising Solutions FZ LLC, DMC5, Dubai Media City, Dubai, U.A.E P.O. Box 27671. Email : Mobile +971503562723. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced, whether in part or in full, without the consent of the marketing agency.


Editor-in-Chief M. ALI





factors attracting global investors into the region. Today, every entrepreneur, millionaire and established brand want to be part of GCC success story by investing in infrastructure, tourism, hospitality, information technology and renewable energy. The recent CBRE report shows that the total value of real estate projects planned or underway across the GCC currently stands at $1.36 trillion, of which Saudi Arabia has the lion’s share of 64.5% equating to around $877 billion projects followed by UAE with 21.6% share of the total regional projects. Technology and innovation is another key growth catalyst for the region’s economies. GCCs investing in talent development and helping leaders think about the business end-to-end are finding it easier to create an impact. There is no second opinion that tech giants play a significant role as they provide the economies of scale and scope necessary for innovation, talent attraction, job creation, large-scale investment, and exports. The digital economy could increase its contribution to regional GDP potentially by $30 billion over the next five years, from $169 billion to $204 billion. Latest report by Strategy& Middle East showed that GCC states can add $255 billion to the regional GDP by 2030 with Saudi Arabia contributing $119 billion alone. Saudi Arabia has attracted more than $9 billion in investments in future technologies, including by US giants Microsoft and Oracle Corporation, which are building cloud regions in the kingdom. The investments will enhance the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s position as the largest digital market in the Middle East and North Africa. Last, but not the least, GCC policymakers have taken up the issue of climate change on a serious note and are focused on finding the optimal solution for it. As a starting point commitment to Net Zero were announced by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to be achieved by 2050, 2060, and 2060, respectively. The UAE and Saudi Arabia, the region’s two largest economies, continued to lead climate-related efforts in the GCC region as both nations have established public-private partnership frameworks, making project finance an obvious choice for funding deployment. The recently concluded COP28 has provided a great opportunity to push towards green technology and carbon sequestration investments, which is crucial for the world to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The landmark historic event provides an opportunity to move to an economic path of green growth which could ultimately diversify the economy while making a positive impact on the climate. In conclusion, I must iterate that the GCC economic growth will accelerate in coming years as an increase in hydrocarbon production and a strong rebound in tourism activity will support net exports, which will be the main catalyst for the region’s success. High energy prices and efforts to diversify sources of economic activity will boost investment across the bloc and will be the key growth engine in the region. I must iterate that GCC has a diversified economy that creates hundreds of attractive business opportunities in the industrial, agricultural, commercial, and tourism sectors, in addition to the green economy and the knowledge economy, which tens of billions of dollars have been earmarked for their development. “

HASSAN MOEJEB ALHWAIZY Chairman of the Federation of GCC Chambers and Chairman of the Federation of Saudi Chambers

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries are on track to diversify their oil-based economies by attracting investment into key sectors such as real estate, hospitality, information technology, healthcare, education, telecoms, data infrastructure, renewable energy, and startups, among others. The six-member bloc are expected to see double the global level of economic growth in 2023 – with Saudi Arabia and the UAE leading the way, as the World Bank projected that global economies to grow by 1.7% while Gulf countries are forecast to surge 3.7%. In 2022, Gulf economies achieved a growth of about 6%, as Saudi Arabia witnessed the largest growth at 8.9%, highlighting that there was a high stimulus in the economy and financing to support small and medium enterprises to boost the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic. The strong gross domestic product (GDP) growth numbers clearly indicates that the GCC region in general performed very well after the global crisis. The outlook for the GCC region appears more upbeat in comparison to the rest of the world, supported by relatively high oil prices and growth in the non-oil economy, as well as moderating inflation. I must iterate that GCC has a diversified economy that creates hundreds of attractive business opportunities in the industrial, agricultural, commercial, and tourism sectors, in addition to the green economy and the knowledge economy, which tens of billions of dollars have been earmarked for their development. All the GCC Countries have embarked on economic transformation plans to diversify income sources away from hydrocarbons, with varying degrees of success. They have very advanced global positions in human development indicators, visa reforms, business facilitation and attracting investments into non-oil businesses. Over the past couple of decades, the GCC has attracted increasing interest from around the world as an investment destination due to conscious efforts by the GCC nations to encourage foreign direct investment with future-focused strategic vision focusing on rapid infrastructure development and economic growth. These strategic future plans such as UAE Vision 2021, Kuwait Vision 2035, Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 and most recently, the $8.7 trillion Dubai Economic Agenda (D33), will build up the momentum for sustainable GDP growth in years to come. I would like to highlight another aspect of investment into the green economy that has potential to accelerate the GDP growth to above $13 trillion by 2050. The recent World Bank report showed that the combined GDP of the GCC countries will be $6 trillion if they continue to operate as usual without properly implementing a green growth strategy. Last year, the combined GCC economy was valued at $2 trillion. With these promising numbers, I would like to mention some of the growth


Federation of GCC Chambers


GCC set to power global economy

Dear Readers,

Welcome to our latest edition of Invest GCC magazine, where we bring you insightful reports on key developments from around the world. From the upcoming World Economic Forum to the World Expo 2030, and from the Etihad Rail to Women Empowerment, we have got you covered on the most important events happening across the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council. The World Economic Forum, which is set to held in Davos (Switzerland) from January 19, 2024, has always been a platform for global leaders to come together to discuss and deliberate on the most pressing economic issues facing the world today. Invest GCC magazine, now a permanent publication at Davos, will not only facilitate GCC Governments in reaching out to global investors with solid investment opportunities but also engage public and private sectors on mega projects outside the energy sector. In this edition, we bring you a detailed report about its latest theme ‘Rebuilding Trust’, including discussions on climate change, digital transformation, achieving security and cooperation in a fractured world, creating growth and jobs for a new era, Artificial Intelligence as a driving force for the economy and society, and sustainable development. The announcement of the World Expo 2030, to be held in Riyadh, has generated much excitement and anticipation around the world. This will be the second World Expo in the region after Dubai successfully hosted first exhibition soon after the Covid-19 pandemic. This edition provides an in-depth analysis of the potential impact of the expo on the host city and the global economy, as well as the opportunities it presents for businesses and investors. The Etihad Rail project in the UAE is set to transform the country’s transportation infrastructure, logistics and boost economic growth. In this edition, we take a closer look at the project and its potential to create new opportunities for trade and investment in the region. Women empowerment has become an increasingly important topic in today’s world, and our magazine is committed to highlighting the efforts being made to promote gender equality and empower women in all sectors of society. We feature inspiring stories of women who are breaking barriers and making a difference in their communities. The GCC economic sectors continue to play a vital role in the global economy, and our magazine provides a comprehensive overview of the key industries driving growth in the region, including oil and gas, travel & tourism, healthcare, real estate, technology & innovation, and finance. Finally, the expansion of BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — as an economic bloc is a development that has the potential to reshape the global economic landscape. In this edition, we explore the implications of this expansion and the opportunities it presents for businesses and investors. The GCC is at the epicenter of compelling changes redefining the global landscape and these latest developments are reflecting megatrends emanating from the region. We hope that you find the reports in this edition both informative and thought-provoking. As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions for future topics and features. We invite you to join us as partners for the next issue of our newsletter and Invest GCC magazine.

Happy reading!


M. Ali, Editor-in-Chief, Invest GCC: Davos 2024



Rebuilding Trust at Davos 2024

S ince 1971, the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting has kicked off the year with a discussion on the challenges facing the world. The stage is set for the 54th annual meeting at snow-capped Davos to address major global issues and priorities for the year ahead. The forum will provide an opportunity to reflect on the key challenges facing the world, marked by the geopolitical tensions of recent years, but also by the trends that will define the future, such as the decarbonisation of the economy and artificial intelligence. Under the theme ‘Rebuilding Trust’, the five-day meeting aims to restore collective agency, and reinforce the fundamental principles of transparency, consistency and accountability among leaders. Analysts, experts and economists accord high importance to this year’s theme and agenda and expressed their hope it will help resolve current geopolitical issues, Palestine-Israel crisis, the Russia-Ukraine war, global economic slowdown and rising inflation and high energy cost, among others. They are of the view that the theme ‘Rebuilding Trust’ will provide solution to the pressing global issues while the secondary focus will be on achieving security and cooperation in a fractured world, creating growth and jobs for a new era, Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a driving force for the economy and society, and a long-term strategy for climate, nature and energy. ‘It’s no overstatement to say that AI will likely be the dominant topic in Davos 2024, with the eyes of political and business leaders fixed on the rapid development of this revolutionary technology,’ the AI House Davos spokesperson said. Other than AI, the forum is also expected to be working on monitoring and promoting new technologies such as autonomous vehicles, environmental innovations, digital trade and blockchain. “Overall, we may expect the forum to conclude that present and future technology innovations are best capitalised through international public and private sector cooperation, for the benefit of all,” according to Matthew Lane, co-founder and director of cyber security firm XCyber. With 2024 being a year of general elections in some of the major countries such as India, the UK, the EU, South Africa, Pakistan and the US presidential election in November, experts warn that these elections being influenced by AI-generated disinformation. “With the ability to mass produce false messaging and create fake images and videos, there are worries that AI could erode democracy,” says an expert.

Exploring opportunities The WEF’s meeting will primarily focus on exploring the opportunities enabled by the new technologies and their implications on decision-making and global partnership. It will include a wide spectrum of formats for interaction and learning, providing the leaders the necessary tools to tackle the current complexity and build the future. In addition, the meeting will also feature speeches by heads of state and key governments, as well as several geoeconomic and geopolitical debate. “We are living in a time of increasing geopolitical polycrisis, new economic policies shaped by the climate crisis, and rapid advancement of technologies such as artificial intelligence. Responding to such profound forces of change requires building trust on three levels: in our future, within societies, and among nations,” according to an economic consultancy. KEY TAKEAWAYS World Economic Forum publishes topics to be discussed in the meeting. • Davos 2024 aims to restore and reinforce the fundamental principles of transparency, consistency, and accountability among leaders • Governments, businesses, and civil society come together around a new economic framework and create job opportunities • Maintaining good use of Artificial Intelligence and curbing risks of it • Long-term strategy for nature, environment, and energy

What is Davos? Davos, Switzerland, is where the World Economic Forum holds its annual meeting. Delegates from many sectors converge for several days of talks and meetings to address urgent global issues.


Federation of GCC Chambers

Upholding COP28 momentum Delegates of Davos 2024 will explore themes including reforming multilateral approaches, leveraging AI for the benefit of all members of society, upholding the momentum from COP28, and maintaining an open trade system. The annual meeting will be centered on rebuilding trust in an environment of rapid transformation. Some 2,500 delegates and hundreds of others gather in Davos during this period, making it perhaps the largest assembly of global decision makers every year. “I’ve had some of my best informal conversations with amazing leaders at the after-dinner events,” according to Acha Leke, senior partner at McKinsey. Another McKinsey senior partner Enno de Boer aptly characterised the meeting: “It’s business speed dating on steroids.”

The event will bring together over 100 governments, major international organisations and around 1,000 companies, as well as civil society leaders, renowned experts, social entrepreneurs, the media outlets and youth leaders from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and North America. Around 2,000 to 3,000 people are on the official invite list, though many more flock to fringe events, swelling the population of the resort town from its modest permanent base of around 11,000. GCC plays lead role Every year, a record number of Arab heads of state, ministers & government officials, top CEOs and policymakers attend WEF’s annual meeting in Davos as they play key role in mediation and find solutions of global issues. Leading Gulf business groups in public and private sector offer support to WEF initiatives and some of them are major strategic partners of the forum. Aramco and Saudi Basic Industries (Sabic) from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain Economic Development Board, DP World, Majid Al Futtaim Holding and Mubadala Investment from the UAE, and Qatar Investment Authority are WEF partners from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. Leading Gulf businesses and corporate leaders are expected to attend this year’s forum and play a major role in the WEF by actively participating and contributing to the discussions and initiatives aimed at shaping the global economic and social agenda.

What is the World Economic Forum? German economist Klaus Schwab established World Economic Forum in 1971. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the forum has emerged as an international not-for-profit organisation focused on promoting cooperation between the public and private sectors. WEF seeks to foster a spirit of collaborative entrepreneurship to address global issues and shape governmental, industry, and social agendas. WEF 2024 DATES This year’s annual meeting in Davos will take place January 15–19, 2024.



Companies and business leaders from the region actively engage in WEF events to share insights, best practices, and innovative solutions to complex global challenges. The private sector also contributes to the WEF through corporate sponsorships, partnerships, and thought leadership initiatives. On the other hand, governments across the region also collaborate with the WEF to implement policies and reforms that promote entrepreneurship, investment, and trade in the GCC. The GCC governments are committed to driving economic growth, innovation, and sustainable development in the region. They work closely with the WEF to address key issues such as economic diversification, job creation, and social inclusion. Overall, the collective efforts of the GCC governments and private sector in the WEF underscore the region’s commitment to driving economic progress, innovation, and social development on the global stage. Their active participation and collaboration with the WEF are instrumental in shaping the global economic agenda and advancing the long-term prosperity of the GCC countries and the broader international community.

2,000 to 3,000 People are on the official invite list 100+ Governments officials and major international organisations will attend 5-day conference

WHAT TO EXPECT AT DAVOS 2024 Rebuilding Trust

Under the theme — Rebuilding Trust, the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos aims to restore collective agency, and reinforce the fundamental principles of transparency, consistency and accountability among leaders. The forum’s comprehensive programme embodies a ‘back to basics’ spirit of open and constructive dialogue between leaders of government, business and civil society. The goal is to help connect the dots in an increasingly complex environment and provide foresight by introducing the latest advances in science, industry and society. The meeting is organised around four areas: • Achieving security and cooperation in a fractured world • Creating growth and jobs for a new era • Artificial intelligence as a driving force for the economy and society • A long-term strategy for climate, nature and energy

1,000+ Public and private sector companies will participate in the forum’s activities


Federation of GCC Chambers

Riyadh Expo 2030

Riyadh Expo 2030: An era of transformation begins for Saudi economy

S audi Arabia’s successful bid for Expo 2030 is a significant milestone, promising economic benefits for the Kingdom beyond the event itself. This victory aligns with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030, aiming to diversifying the Saudi economy away from oil towards sectors like tourism, hospitality, job creation, and knowledge-based economy. The Expo theme “The Sky’s the Limit” reflects the nation’s ambitious growth plans. While travel, tourism, and hospitality are expected to receive a substantial boost of SR355 billion, other sectors such as real estate, banking, and insurance will also benefit, according to a Research by Al-Rajhi Capital. The six-month-long expo, scheduled to open on October 1, 2030, will host technology exhibits, cultural events, business forums, and entertainment from over 190 participating countries. The expo site is designed as a model of sustainable urban living, powered by renewable energy, with green spaces and efficient public transportation connecting various zones. This international gathering is poised to catalyse new innovations, partnerships, and solutions to global challenges in areas like healthcare, education, climate, and the environment. Saudi Arabia has allocated $348 million to facilitate the participating nations, emphasizing the expo’s commitment to addressing urgent global challenges. The Riyadh Expo City, exemplifies Vision 2030 priorities, with cutting-edge construction and operations expected to generate over $33 billion in investment and drive job growth. Expo 2030 is forecast to deliver a 0.75% annualised impact over the next 25 years, accelerating the implementation of government-led giga-projects and influencing the travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors. The pre-Expo phase is set to benefit industries like construction, while the during and post-event periods will witness growth in insurance, hospitality, primary healthcare, car rentals, aviation, food and beverages, telecom, and advertising. The tourism sector stands out as a major beneficiary, playing a crucial role in Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification strategy. The kingdom aims to increase hotel capacity significantly, with leisure tourism forecasted to see an 18.1% compounded

The Expo 2030 will serve as the beacon of change, propelling Saudi Arabia towards a more diversified, sustainable and knowledge-based economy



Riyadh Expo 2030

annual growth rate. The establishment of Riyadh Air is expected to enhance connectivity and tourism infrastructure. The event is projected to create a surge in job opportunities, akin to the job creation experienced by Dubai during Expo 2020. The impact on the jobs market is expected to become clearer gradually from 2024 onwards. The first in the Arab world, the Expo 2020 Dubai helped more than 76% of companies in the UAE to boost growth during its six-month run, a survey by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce found. While 73.5% of businesses entered into new partnerships during the mega trade fair, nearly 71% of respondents leveraged the networking and business matching services provided by the chamber during the event, the report said. The study, carried out in collaboration with Oxford Business Group, surveyed 287,000 companies in Dubai operating in various economic sectors. Expo 2020 Dubai recorded more than 24 million visits in its six months and one in every three visitors was from overseas, with people coming from 178 countries. Expo 2020 Dubai supported business growth in the tourism and hospitality sectors in the emirate, said the chamber report. Expo 2020 Dubai and its legacy contributed Dh154.9 billion of gross value added to the UAE’s economy from 2013 to 2042, a report from EY has shown. The World Expo, during its six-month run, supported approximately 1,039,000 full-time equivalent job-years, equal to more than 35,000 full time equivalent jobs per annum in the UAE over the same period. The sectors contributing most to gross value added – a measure of economic productivity – are events organisation and business services (Dh75.5 billion), construction (Dh31.9 billion), and restaurants and hotels (Dh23.1 billion). The pre- event phase contributed around one quarter of gross value added, the event itself added almost 13%, while the lion’s share of economic benefits – 62% – will be felt in the legacy phase through to 2042. As a catalyst to propel development, soft power and political influence, the FIFA World Cup 2022’s economic impact extended beyond Qatar as the GCC states took advantage of fresh opportunities. Hence, the kingdom’s growing role in the international sports scene, including initiatives like Aramco’s International Cricket Council title sponsorship and the proposed NEOM winter sports complex, signals its commitment to leveraging sports for economic development. Giga-projects under the Vision 2030 Initiative, valued


at $1.25 trillion, emphasize vast real estate development plans, showcasing the Kingdom’s dedication to economic diversification. In the same vein, the Saudi Arabia Expo 2030 is not merely an event; it symbolises a significant opportunity for economic growth and investment in the kingdom’s future. With a young, growing local population and a commitment to diversify beyond oil, the kingdom is strategically positioning itself for high-profile events and foreign investment. The Expo offers a chance to turbocharge progress through trade, innovation, and global recognition. As a rising regional titan, Saudi Arabia’s Expo 2030 bid has sent a strong message of hope and unity, likely drawing visitors from neighbouring Arab countries and fostering bilateral ties with a multiplier effect across the Middle East economy. The Expo 2030 will serve as the beacon of change, propelling Saudi Arab towards a more diversified, sustainable and knowledge-based economy. The expo’s impact will extend beyond economic gains, fostering cultural exchange, international cooperation, a sense of national pride, and a testament to its commitment to innovation and its vision for prosperous future. • The expo site is designed as a model of sustainable urban living, powered by renewable energy, with green spaces and efficient public transportation connecting various zones • The six-month-long expo, scheduled to open on October 1, 2030, will host technology exhibits, cultural events, business forums, and entertainment from over 190 participating countries • Travel, tourism, and hospitality are expected to receive a substantial boost of SR355 billion • The Riyadh Expo City is expected to generate over $33 billion in investment and drive job growth • Expo 2030 is forecast to deliver a 0.75% annualised impact over the next 25 years

10 Federation of GCC Chambers


Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman of Danube Group, is a visionary leader in the world of business with 30 years of trust



Cover Story

R izwan Sajan, Dubai’s 1% Man, is an Emirati Businessman who is known for his unwavering vision, unparalleled leadership skills, and unswerving commitment to the Middle East Region. As a leader, Sajan is known for his excellent visionary approach and innovative mindset. He has always believed in pushing boundaries, exploring new horizons, and challenging the status quo. His business leadership is characterised by a hands- on approach, where he leads by example and encourages a culture of ownership, creativity, collaboration, and progressive improvement. Sajan has always believed that striving to become the best is the only way in life. Rizwan Sajan has built a diversified conglomerate that is focused on real estate — he’s making residential luxury affordable with his 1% per month payment plan by collaborating with brands like Aston Martin, Fashion TV, and Tonino Lamborghini Casa. The rags to riches story In the early 90s, Rizwan Sajan moved to the UAE with the dream of starting his own business. The first-generation entrepreneur was born in the slums of Ghatkopar in Mumbai. His journey started when his father miraculously won a ‘subsidized’ lottery, moved his family into a tiny apartment, and tried his best to look after the family. Though he managed to pay the tuition fees for the kids, it was never enough. Young Sajan, with his sisters, used to walk a few kilometers to reach school. The pocket money —₹15 in total for all the kids — was never sufficient for the young ones who could barely buy anything from the school canteen. The young boy decided to do his bit to earn some money. He implored his dad to lend ₹1,000 and started his early journey into rudimentary trading. Sajan’s low-lying fruit — call it the catchment area — turned out to be his schoolmates. He bought books in bulk, sold them to his friends at the market rate, and started making some extra bucks. The next gig was selling milk in the locality and making the most of a long tail of festivals around the year. From sourcing rakhis to selling firecrackers, he did everything to earn extra money. Then tragedy struck when he was 16. His father died, and Sajan had to drop out of school and take care of the family. Using a small kitty that his dad managed to save at the firm where he worked, he got into the business of manufacturing box files. The business clicked, but making ends meet was still a challenge. Two years later, his uncle offered him a job in Kuwait. That was his lottery. Back in Mumbai, the young founder was earning ₹6,000. In Kuwait, he got a monthly salary of ₹18,000 (150 dinars). He joined as a trainee salesman, and quickly climbed the ladder to become manager. His salary increased from 150 dinars to 1,500 dinars and he started earning sales commissions of around 50,000 dinars every month, the salary started to look obscene. That was a lot of money at that time and the salesman was living his dream. He bought a Toyota Land Cruiser, purchased a house in Bandra, and got his sister married. Soon, came a wicked twist in the fairytale. In August 1990 because of the Gulf War, Sajan’s wonderland came crashing, and he was forced to return to Mumbai. A few years later, he tried his luck in Dubai. In the late 90s, Sajan started working in a trading firm. It was a brokerage business, where he was making commissions, and in 1993 he started his building material business. Over the next decade and a half, he kept diversifying and added more heft to his business. In 2006, he started the sanitary solutions brand Milano. In 2008, he ventured into the home furnishing business with Danube Home. Four years later, in 2012, came Alucopanel, a business of aluminum composite panels. The real estate entry happened in 2014. Since then there has been no looking back. The business The Sajans aren’t new money, but the family’s growing wealth and business are now being fueled heavily by money flooding in from the subcontinent. Indians make up 32% of the Danube Properties firm’s customers in the UAE, and they are contributing to some of the largest gains for Danube. As the Founder and Chairman of Danube Group, one of the biggest conglomerates in the Middle East, Sajan has transformed the outlook of the building materials industry by supplying supreme quality products to almost all the various major projects in the Mena region. Moving forward, the group ventured into the household

Danube Properties has come a long way in perfecting the art of building a home! For more than eight years, we have delivered affordable luxury to thousands of families. From this year, we have ventured into branded residences by joining hands with luxury brands such as Aston Martin, FashionTV, and Tonino Lamborghini Casa to bring a new class of residences to our buyers. “

12 Federation of GCC Chambers

Key Takeaways

furnishing and Décor industry and created a presence in the entire Middle East region. Danube Properties climb Danube Properties is one of Dubai’s largest private property developers, with a portfolio of 14,888 units in 27 projects totaling more than Dh15 billion. Today, there is no looking back. As the business grew, Danube hired more people, and slowly, from a two-person company, it grew into what became a billion-dollar conglomerate. Danube Properties maintains a policy of launching one project at a time, selling it out, and then appointing a contractor to build the project before launching the next one. “Danube Properties has come a long way in perfecting the art of building a home! For more than a decade, we have delivered affordable luxury to thousands of families,” Sajan told Invest GCC magazine. “From this year on, we have ventured into branded residences by joining hands with luxury brands such as Aston Martin, FashionTV, and Tonino Lamborghini Casa to bring a new class of residences to our buyers,” he said. Danube Properties continued to expand its development portfolio by launching Glitz Residence 1, 2, 3, Starz, Glamz, Miraclz, Resortz, Bayz, Jewelz, Elz, Lawnz, Wavez, Olivz, Skyz, Pearlz, Gemz, Opalz, Petalz, Elitz 1, Viewz, Fashionz, Elitz 2, Elitz 3, Oceanz, Eleganz, and Sportz. Danube Properties offers homeowners a 10-year Golden Visa, especially those who qualify as per the investment criteria, subject to government approval. As a testament to the Dubai Land Department trust, the DLD also signed an agreement with Danube Properties to offer an Initial Sale Contract (Oqood) to property buyers almost instantly. The Inception of the revolutionary 1% Plan The 1% payment plan is a way to complete the aspirations of every expat in Dubai to possess their own dream home and relish the luxuries this vibrant city has to offer. By the time Sajan entered the property sector, there were already multiple big players established in the sector. Sajan knew he had to come up with something special to compete because he

• Danube Properties is one of Dubai’s biggest private property devel- opers, with a portfolio of 14,888 units in 27 projects totaling more than Dh15 billion • Danube Properties maintains a policy of launching one project at a time, selling it out, and then appointing a contractor to build the project, before launching the next one • The 1% payment plan is a way to complete the aspirations of every expat in Dubai to possess their own dream home and relish the luxuries this vibrant city has to offer realised that 80 to 90 percent of expats were still renting, and Sajan wanted to convert them into buying their properties. This is how they came up with the one percent plan. Apart from a small down payment, the buyers had to make a monthly payment of 1%, and the balance was collected once the building was ready. For more than a decade, Danube has delivered affordable luxury to thousands of families. Danube Properties has come a long way in perfecting the arts and science of developing homes with all the facilities, amenities, and quality finishing and delivering them on time and at an affordable price. In the last six years, Rizwan Sajan has appeared all six times in the Forbes Middle East’s list of “Top Business Leaders in the UAE” and his highest rating was at 7th position in the same list. • The accolades • Danube Group, under the leadership of Sajan, remains dedicated to sustainability, aligning with Dubai’s “2023 – The Year of Sustainability” narrative by constructing comfortable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly homes and communities.



• Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Excellence Award by Dubai Chamber Of Commerce in 2012. • Dubai Quality Award in 2012. • Special Achievement Award by The Asia Pacific Enterprise Awards (APEA) in 2015. • Most Admired Retailer award by BARC Asia in 2018. • The Economic Times Global Indian Leaders in 2022. • op 100 Indian leaders in the UAE 2020 by Forbes Middle East. • Top Indian Business Leaders In The Middle East 2021 by Forbes Middle East. • Icons of the UAE 2023 by India Today Group. Credit goes to the Rulers Sajan owes his success to the visionary Rulers of Dubai. He strongly believes that his success has happened solely due to his presence in a country where the Rulers have a broad futuristic vision of infrastructure and economic development, standing on a common goal of human welfare. Further, the group got into real estate development, where Sajan, with his innovative and forward-thinking, changed the entire mindset of the property buyers by offering affordable housing to the locals and expats with extremely affordable payment options. Sajan’s success mantra - customer centric He has always said that his people are his strength and the reason for his roaring success. That is why Danube focuses on employees and customers because, without them, there is no business. For him, their satisfaction is everything. Ultimately, that is how Danube Properties came to expand their business into different sectors -- to cater to the diverse needs of our customers. Fully furnished to facility management Danube excels not only in property sales for investors but has also launched a specialised company devoted to managing and selling properties. This innovative

endeavor offers prospective buyers the unique opportunity to both rent and maintain their properties. What truly distinguishes this company is the assurance of a guaranteed return on investment, ranging from 6-10%. To further enhance the experience for investors, Danube has introduced an additional company that will handle all aspects of facility management. From furnishings to overall maintenance, this comprehensive approach ensures a hassle- free and worry-free property ownership experience. Investing in Danube grants you the peace of mind of seamless property management and unparalleled convenience. Danube Group stands tall Danube Group stands tall with several verticals, which include Danube Building Materials, Danube Home, Danube Properties, Alucopanel Middle East, Danube Hospitality Solutions, Starz Media (Filmfare), American Aesthetic Center, Casa Milano, and others. Among these verticals, Danube Building Materials is a pioneering company offering construction materials all across the region. It offers more than 50,000 products under one roof. Danube Home specialises in Home Furnishings and Home Décor products offering a wide variety of products for homeowners with specialised interior designer teams sitting all across the showrooms as a value addition to the customers without any additional cost. Danube Properties is into real estate developments offering affordable housing on a freehold basis. Danube Group has also developed internationally recognized brands like Milano, which offers Bathroom and kitchen Solutions like Sanitary, Hardware, Electrical, and Ceramic Tile Products among others. Danube Group has a massive logistics and warehousing facility occupying over 7 million square feet of space in Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai, apart from various warehouses across the locations where it has its presence. With all this, today, Danube Group has exponentially grown into a conglomerate with a presence in over 75 locations all across the Mena region and has an employee strength of more than 4500 people. The group serves a wide range of clients globally, resulting in an annual turnover of above $2 billion.

14 Federation of GCC Chambers

GCC women driving economies, businesses, and start-ups

T he winds of change have been sweeping across the GCC in recent decades, as leaders and policymakers recognize the untapped potential of their female populations In recent years, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have witnessed a remarkable transformation in their approach to gender equality and women’s empowerment, with women increasingly assuming prominent roles, empowered by recent progressive reforms initiated by select regional countries. The GCC is known for its rich oil reserves and rapid economic development. While these nations have long been seen as economic powerhouses in the Middle East, the region is now also gaining recognition for the significant strides it has made in empowering women and their burgeoning role in economies, businesses, and start-ups. Historically, the GCC region has had a conservative social and cultural landscape, with gender roles reflecting traditional values. Women were often confined to domestic roles and had limited opportunities in the workforce.

However, the winds of change have been sweeping across the GCC in recent decades, as leaders and policymakers recognize the untapped potential of their female populations. A notable aspect of women’s empowerment in the GCC is their increasing presence in leadership roles within the corporate world. Companies in the region are recognizing the value of diverse leadership teams, and more women are ascending to executive positions and boards of directors. This shift is not only about diversity but also about harnessing the unique skills and perspectives that women bring to the table. The start-up ecosystem in the GCC has been flourishing, with women entrepreneurs making their mark in various industries. Many GCC countries have established entrepreneurship support programs that specifically target women, providing them with mentorship, training, and access to funding. These initiatives have led to a surge in women-owned start-ups, contributing to the region’s economic diversification. A critical factor driving women’s empowerment in the GCC has been the emphasis



on education. Access to quality education has increased significantly for girls and women, leading to a more skilled and knowledgeable female workforce. This educational empowerment has opened doors to opportunities in diverse fields including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). One of the key drivers of this change is the recognition that the full participation of women in the economy can significantly boost economic growth. According to the World Bank, increasing women’s participation in the labour force can have a substantial impact on a country’s GDP. In the GCC, where the youth population is large and the need for job creation is paramount, harnessing the potential of women is essential. Spearheaded by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, the region has witnessed substantial changes in recent years. The UAE launched an empowerment plan for Emirati women in 2015 as part of the region’s commitment to addressing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). This was accompanied by the UAE’s decision to revise the Federal Crime and Punishment Law in the previous year, strengthening women’s rights. Gender Lens Investing (GLI) in the UAE is playing a significant role in empowering women entrepreneurs, fostering start-ups creation, and increasing the likelihood of producing future unicorns, thus contributing to robust, resilient economies. GLI involves integrating gender analysis into investment decisions, a commitment made by 193 countries in 2015 to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The remarkable progress made by businesswomen in the area is led by the UAE where 11% of venture capital funding went to female-only founders last year, a stark contrast to the international average of 3%. Furthermore, the UAE is the second country in the world to mandate the inclusion of women on corporate and government boards of directors. Hana A -Rostamani, hailing from the enterprising A W Rostamani Group, has become the first female CEO of First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the largest bank in the UAE with total assets of $312 billion as of June-end 2023. For Saudi Arabia, women’s empowerment is a pivotal element of Vision 2030. Since the inception of this visionary plan, women in the country have gained the right to drive, travel independently, and have made significant inroads into the workforce. These reforms are not only empowering women but also encouraging them to establish and promote their businesses. The Forbes list of the 50 most influential and successful businesswomen in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region this year featured women from 19 different nationalities, with the UAE and Egypt leading the pack, followed by Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait, and Oman. In 2020, Saudi Arabia recorded the most significant improvement on the World Bank’s “Women, Business and the Law index,” which identifies legal barriers to women’s economic opportunities. These reforms have translated into numerous success stories within the regional business landscape. Sarah Al Suhaimi, Chairperson of Saudi Tadawul, the Saudi stock exchange, is one

such exemplary figure in the region. She leads efforts to align the group with global standards and best practices and is the first woman to head the Saudi stock exchange, traditionally considered a male-dominated domain. In her role, Al Suhaimi is contributing to the development of an advanced capital market, a core pillar of Saudi Arabia’s Financial Sector Development Programme as it strives to realise Vision 2030. She also serves as a board member of several companies, including the Saudi Telecom Company, the Saudi Arabian Airlines Public Agency, and the Cultural Development Fund. Qatari Hanadi bint Nasser Al Thani is another influential figure. She founded Amwal, an investment company, in 1998 and later initiated the $3.2 billion Al Wa`ab City, a real estate development project in Doha. The increasing representation of women in pivotal decision-making roles across public and private sectors in the GCC is not only inspiring the next generation but also enhancing women’s visibility in the workplace and their contributions to success. Nonetheless, being a woman in the GCC market presents both challenges and advantages. The global pandemic laid bare fundamental gender inequalities across various sectors, from the economy and workplace to healthcare and unpaid childcare, as highlighted by UN Women. Moreover, in a region where traditional gender roles are prevalent, women are often expected to balance their careers with full household responsibilities. However, regional leadership has proactively addressed these challenges by creating clear pathways and strategies for women’s empowerment. This has led to women occupying high-level decision-making positions in both corporate and government realms, further promoting gender equality and inclusivity. The GCC countries have embarked on a transformative journey towards empowering women and recognizing their pivotal role in driving economies, businesses, and startups forward. Education, workplace inclusivity, and the rise of women in leadership positions are all contributing to this positive shift. As women in the GCC continue to break down barriers and seize opportunities, they are not only transforming their own lives but also reshaping the future of the region’s economies. Women in the GCC are making significant strides in the business world, empowered by progressive reforms and a commitment to gender equality. These women are not only contributing to economic growth but also inspiring future generations and challenging traditional gender norms, ultimately reshaping the landscape of business and society in the region. The progress made so far is a testament to the determination and resilience of GCC women. By fostering an environment that values and supports gender diversity, the GCC nations are not only harnessing the potential of their female populations but also positioning themselves for sustainable economic growth and innovation in the years to come. As the GCC moves forward, it is increasingly clear that the empowerment of women is not just a goal but a fundamental driver of progress and prosperity.

16 Federation of GCC Chambers


Dubai, to me, is the best place for women entrepreneurs where they can make a huge difference in reshaping the economy and society. “ Women are breaking barriers The inclusion of women in traditionally male-dominated fields not only expands the talent pool but also fosters an environment of creativity and adaptability. However, the journey towards women’s empowerment in the economic sphere is not without its challenges. Overcoming deeply ingrained stereotypes, addressing gender biases, and ensuring equal opportunities are prerequisites for unleashing the full potential of women. It demands a concerted effort from governments, businesses, and society at large to create an ecosystem that nurtures and supports women’s professional growth. One key aspect is access to education. Investing in education for girls and women equips them with the skills and knowledge necessary to participate actively in the workforce. Moreover, mentorship programs and networking opportunities play a crucial role in fostering a supportive environment for women, helping them navigate the complexities of their chosen fields. The UAE’s commitment to fostering women’s entrepreneurship, as reflected in the reported 68% growth, serves as an inspiration for nations worldwide. It is a testament to the transformative power of intentional policies and initiatives aimed at dismantling barriers and fostering an inclusive economic landscape. In conclusion, women’s role in economic development is not just about achieving parity; it is about harnessing the full spectrum of human potential. The strides made in the UAE exemplify the dividends that can be reaped when women are empowered to contribute fully to the economy. As we champion the cause of women as thought leaders, let us collectively work towards creating a world where every woman can unleash her economic prowess and, in doing so, transform the destiny of nations.

Dr Sana Sajan Director at Danube Group.

A s we stand on the cusp of a new era, it becomes increasingly evident that the empowerment of women is not just a matter of equality; it is an economic imperative that can reshape the destiny of nations. In the pursuit of global progress, one strongly aligns with the pivotal role that women play in economic development. In recent years, the UAE has witnessed a remarkable surge in women’s entrepreneurship, a testament to the changing narrative surrounding women’s roles in the workforce. Women’s entrepreneurship grew by 68% in the UAE as the country offered more comprehensive support by building an entrepreneurial ecosystem, according to a report by Ascent Partners. There has never been a better time for a woman to establish a business in the UAE, with a rise in female investors, supporting organisations, and investment in new enterprises. The UAE has the highest number of women among the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen listed by Forbes in 2020. The economic impact of women’s involvement is multifaceted. Beyond the realms of diversity and inclusion, women bring a unique perspective to business and decision-making. Studies consistently show that diverse teams, encompassing both genders, tend to be more innovative and resilient. With a strong entrepreneurial culture in the GCC region, the rate of startup businesses spearheaded by females represents an average of 40.9% in the GCC region, as women are finding ways to navigate unprecedented business growth. Furthermore, the economic development spurred by women is not confined to specific industries; it permeates across sectors. Whether in technology, finance, healthcare, or education, women are breaking barriers and leaving an indelible mark. Compared to this, only 47% of women are active in today’s labour markets worldwide, compared with 72% of men, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).



Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44

Made with FlippingBook - Online magazine maker