As a schoolboy, Hussain Sajwani worked long hours after school for his father in the family business in Dubai. The variety store that his father owned sold Chinese imports, office supplies, and consumer goods, and although Hussain got lots of good experience, the long hours were at times a little too much for a young boy.
He told his father that when he grew up he would certainly not be a businessman because of the long hours, but that he would prefer to be a professional with a degree so he would be able to work regular hours.
Hussain earned a degree from the University of Washington majoring in economics and engineering. He then traveled back home to Dubai and worked for a Dubai gas company as an engineer. However, that career only lasted for a short time as he capitalized on a very good opportunity that came his way. He formed a catering firm that sold food to the United States Army during the Gulf Wars that occurred in that region in the early 90s.
That was a very successful business and it paved the way for Sajwani’s later successes. He learned a great deal about running a large business from that experience. The catering company is still in business today.
In 2002, Sajwani formed DAMAC Properties, a real estate development and management company. He had guessed correctly that when the UAE loosened the restrictions on immigration, allowing foreign nationals to permanently settle in the UAE, that there would be somewhat of a land and real estate boom. DAMAC would become the foundation of wealth for the Hussain Sajwani family.
That is exactly what occurred and people quickly took to the wonderfully built luxury apartments and villas that had rapidly become the trademark of DAMAC. Sajwani was a master promoter and marketer, and the demand was great because of his efforts. In fact, his first project was completely sold out before any construction had even begun.
The DAMAC owner was very conservative in running his business, as he always paid cash for the land, and financed very little of the rest of the project. In this manner, the entire business model was very solid.