Born on January 1st, 1971 in Talkalakh, Syria, finished his high school studies in Talkalakh and then graduated from Aleppo University in 1993 with a bachelor degree in Economics.
The decision to leave – Traveling abroad
My story started after graduation from the University of Aleppo in 1993, where I decided to travel outside the country to start my career and achieve my ambitions and also to be able to pay the compulsory military recruitment of $ 5000 dollars, I booked my ticket and the plane took off on 14/5/1994 with a visit visa to the Emirate of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.
Choice of career, stability or adventure and challenge
After searching for a job for a while in various fields, I received two offers, one with a fixed monthly salary of 2500 dirhams as an accountant through a relative and the second as a broker in international currencies with a monthly salary of 800 dirhams and a commission which I found through a daily newspaper (Gulf newspaper).
To be able to make a decision, I had to look into the future, after 2 or 3 years in both jobs. In the accounting job, I saw myself in the same office where I would start, doing same responsibilities, definitely developing and getting promoted and getting some increments to maybe achieve a salary of 4000 dirhams at best, and perhaps after few years to become the Head of accounting department or even a Chief Financial Officer but ultimately its a job in a closed office, I did not see myself in this scenario.
In the commodities and currencies broker job, I have seen great challenges. The first is a salary that is not enough, 800 dirhams, that will barely cover transportation expenses and one meal a day (half roasted chicken from Golden Fork Restaurant) while living with my relatives. Not to mention, it’s a new domain that I don’t understand and the probability of failure is high, but on the other hand, if I attracted customers and started trading and getting a commission, I would compensate the salary difference in few months. It’s also a new and attractive domain with unlimited growth prospects despite the difficulties ahead, it’s dangerous and fun with exposure to new people and experiences, which I highly desirable due to my nature of loving adventures and risks.
I recall these memories as it was yesterday, the voices around me from my relatives were loud indicating that choices were difficult and the opportunities were limited and my qualifications needed development at any help needed from them will be embarrassing, but I did not see or hear anyone except for myself, I would work with all diligence and determination to achieve success, that’s what was stuck in my mind.
Honestly, it was not a difficult decision, I saw my future and started my adventure…
The challenges of the beginning (first employment contract)
Leader Middle East, a foreign company offering foreign exchange and precious metals trading services, which at the time, most of its team constituted of foreigners from different nationalities. Where am I in this company? A new field that I have zero experience in, my English was weak, even my ability to pronounce properly was a challenge, while the staff are using specialized terms unfamiliar to me, not to mention that these nationalities interact differently, especially to someone coming from a small city that is somehow conservative. The general atmosphere and the clients’ nature are different. In short, it was a new world completely outside my control, but what is under my control was determination, will and faith.
I started reading day and night, followed the international markets and financial analysis and kept listening carefully to the company’s management, staff and my colleagues, how they discuss the performance of the markets, the terms they used, I searched for every word I did not understand and each term related to our field, of course, it took me to double the time and efforts since it was all in English. I also attended several training programs, and I closely watched everyone around me from management, employees and colleagues, how they work, how they talk, their analysis of the markets, how they deal with it as a berserk bull. They will, however, is what I have maintained to meet these challenges.
After a few months, I found myself an active member of the team. At that time, I felt the taste of success and reaping the results of all my efforts. I started attracting customers and trading for them in international markets. Within two years, my monthly salary was AED 10,000 in addition to commissions. I also became a team manager and responsible for developing training programs for new employees.
In 1997, one of my clients asked me to help him in closing a deal related to the sale of shares in the UAE stock market, the market then was unregulated, and I easily closed the deal. This transaction was the first to draw my attention to local markets, I noticed smooth processes and lower risk compared with international markets, trading in foreign exchange markets is relatively higher in terms of risk compared with other investment instruments, exposing customers to higher risks that threaten the credibility and reputation that we are building. Therefore, I decided to move to local markets, realizing that they had ample opportunities for growth, high investment credibility, and solid financial reputation. From there I introduced the idea to one of my clients in the global market, with whom I have a very professional relationship, to invest in the local market, he was very enthusiastic about the idea and told me “anything you want, I’ll give you”. I started working with him in the local market as an investment portfolio manager for a salary of AED 10,000 and 25% of realized profits, we started the portfolio with AED 5 million.
Within six months, I managed to return the fully invested capital to the investor with 250% profits. In the meantime, we were trying to obtain a brokerage license in the UAE markets from the Central Bank, however, we could not obtain it due to raising the requirements and tightening the regulations related to this license, which led me to think about finding a ready licensed company and expand it as I wanted to work within a regulated system and structure capable of achieving growth and development and building a solid customer base.
Al Ramz – the beginnings
In 1998, “I do not know exactly whether I am the investor or the investor who found me.” I met an Emirati man who told me that he had a license for a brokerage company with small capital but needed management to hold on. Being close together, I saw that it was easy to cooperate with him and to create a harmony of vision and harmony of goals, which are essential elements in the equation of success and advancement of the work process.
The company was licensed to provide brokerage services in the local capital markets with a capital of 500 thousand dirhams that the investor borrowed from his father, and the company incurred a loss of 600 thousand dirhams and the capital was virtually non-existent. I agreed with the investor that I take over the company’s management in exchange for one-third of the profits, he will take one-third of the profits for him, and the last third for his father, who financed the company’s capital. The agreement was signed, and I relied on Allah to bless our efforts. The partner was an ambitious and energetic young man with strong and broad relationships. We worked together and we translated relations into investment deals pretty quickly, and thank God, the company moved from loss to profit within six months.
Al Ramz- the success
Within two years, the company became one of the major companies in the capital markets, competing with the oldest and biggest companies in this industry. And I say with pride that I was the only young Syrian who started working in this industry and was able to establish myself as a strong competitor, even to major banks. My main goal was to maintain the highest levels of credibility, integrity and honesty to preserve the good reputation and gain the confidence of customers and investors alike.
In 2005, Al Ramz became one of the most important companies in the capital markets, and at that time the partner felt enthusiastic and claimed that the company was his doing and that it was time for him to leave and sell his shares especially after he obtained an evaluation of the company of AED 350 million (about $ 100 million) and he was certain that he can repeat this path again through a new company.
Al Ramz- The change
During 2005 and 2006 we went through a difficult period of change, negotiations and difficult decisions after the partner made his decision to sell his share. In that era, I decided to purchase a major stake to enhance the confidence of the new shareholders and prove to them that we are partners with them for the long run, and I was able to attract a number of important shareholders who will have a positive impact on the future of the company and the subsequent stages, and the company’s capital increased to 75 million dirhams at this stage.
In 2008, the consequences of the outbreak of the global credit crisis affected many economic activities, including the financial markets, which had dire consequences that led to the liquidation of weak companies. During that period, we were targeted by several parties, including the old shareholders who were not successful in their new project after leaving Al Ramz, and we were overwhelmed with their attempts to undermine our successful path by resorting to unethical approaches which, thank God, vanished without resonance or any negative consequences on the company.
These endeavours were not able to distract us or divert our attention from our main target, which is to develop the company continuously, and we made the decision here to focus on diversifying our sources of income and fortifying our business diligently by obtaining multiple licenses to establish various sources of income.
Al Ramz – a new strategic partner
The year 2010 witnessed the beginning of the boom for Al Ramz in terms of development, growth and expansion, which attracted Abu Dhabi Investment Company (the investment arm of the Abu Dhabi Investment Council in the local market) to enter as a strategic partner by merging their brokerage unit with Al Ramz in exchange for owning a 15% stake in the company. This change has reinforced and confirmed that we are undoubtedly on the right track. Of course, the move to new horizons like these has been accompanied by increasing burdens and responsibilities that we must embrace to remain a trusted party, which has motivated us to move forward with determination. Later, in 2014, the company’s capital was raised to 150 million dirhams.
Al Ramz transformation, leadership and implementation of the first reverse acquisition in the UAE
After establishing Al Ramz prominent position in the capital markets as a successful brokerage company, our endeavours and aspirations took off towards a new stage, which would lead the company to become an integrated investment bank that harnesses all innovative financial services and solutions for the benefit of individual and institutional investors. Subsequently, in 2016, we witnessed the realization of our ambition of transforming the company into a public joint-stock company. After studying many of the presented options, we decided to implement it by acquiring a listed company, changing its name and modifying its economic activities. The UAE witnessed the first reverse acquisition in its history. Hence, Al Ramz Corporation for Investment and Development was established with a paid-up capital of 549,915,858 dirhams, a public joint-stock company that provides diversified investment services, including asset management, market maker, liquidity providing, corporate finance, research and brokerage, maintaining shareholder value and providing exceptional services to its customers.
The journey began with a company with a capital of 500,000 dirhams and a team of only 3 employees, while today the company’s paid-up capital is about 550 million dirhams, and its market value is close to 800 million dirhams and it has 80 employees. The journey will continue aiming for new horizons
On a personal level
On a personal level, I have not forgotten, in the midst of all these transformations and successes, to stand with my family, my city, and my country, and I worked to establish many vital companies and projects in Syria which was unfortunately frozen due to the situation the country faced in the past years, but I continue to support the people in terms of education, health, humanitarian work and rebuilding some areas that have been damaged as a result of the war. All of this is due to my firm belief in the principles of social solidarity and human responsibility, I remain certain that a person’s true value is measured by what he provides to his fellow human beings.
I found the joy of giving back and watching its effect on young men and women, I achieved a feeling and satisfaction and content that could not be compared to any success I achieved at the professional level, giving back is fuel for the soul and the heart.