Sunday, January 27, 2008

Emaar Rises With Mohamed Bin Ali Alabbar's Inspired Leadership

Burj Dubai: World's Tallest Building being built by Emaar in Dubai

“A leader”, defined John C. Maxwell, “is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Mohamed Bin Ali Alabbar (Chairman, Emaar; Director General, Dubai Department of Economic Development) perfectly fits in the definition. He believes on his passion rather than his position. He is a man who knows the difference between a leader and a boss: a boss says “Go!” and a leader says “Let’s go!”

Being at the helm of one of the largest real estate companies in the world, Mr. Alabbar takes inspiration from none other than his mentor: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of UAE (United Arab Emirates).

Mr. Alabbar is guided by Sheikh Mohammed’s call for dynamic leadership: “A leader should lead, and be able to lead his people by positioning himself in front of them and not behind them. A leader should take control and tell his people: ‘Here is our goal, follow me towards it, and not: “Go ahead, and we will be right behind you”.

Mr. Alabbar believes that His Highness is the prime driving force behind all-round transformation of Dubai from a ‘barren land’ into an ‘oasis of opportunities.’

“The fuel for growth”, said Mr. Alabbar, “is the support and direction provided by UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.”

Mr. Alabbar acknowledges His Highness’ far-sightedness.

“He understood that the time was right for Dubai — and this may be his most valuable example for those of us with large-scale ambitions,” he said. “He gave us the daring to dream and dream big.”

Mr. Alabbar is not a man of words but of actions. His lets his actions speak for themselves. It was primarily for this reason he received first-ever ‘The Lifetime Achievement Award’ at Arabian Business Media & Marketing Conference held in November 2007.

The Award recognized the “foresight” and “bold initiatives” of Mr Alabbar. Mr Andrew Neil, Chairman, ITP, the Middle East’s largest publisher of consumer and business magazines, including Arabian Business, termed Mr. Alabbar as a “role model for the entrepreneur community across the Arab world.”

“He sets an example of how far-sighted approach, innovative thinking and flawless execution can help achieve one’s goals and consistently better the success achieved,” he said.

Speaking at the conference Mr. Alabbar shared his futuristic vision and positive approach.

“Today, with such towering examples in human achievement as the Burj Dubai”, he thundered, “we proclaim to the world that nothing is impossible when human minds come together with clearly focused objectives.”
Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records. Mr. Alabbar certainly belongs to the latter.

Alabbar-led Emaar Group is a leading real estate company in the Middle East and intends to grow globally in order to achieve “vision of 2010.” i.e. to become one of the most valuable companies in the world.

To attain vision 2010, Emaar has built distinctive management philosophy. “Emaar Culture” with the help of renowned management guru, Ram Charan. Emaar Culture simply means the company must be driven by objectives, measurable performance and monitoring.

To implement the same Emaar has successfully developed the culture of “Management By Objectives” (MBOs) and “Key Performance Indicators” (KPIs) among senior management. Emaar intends to percolate this philosophy at every level of the organization. To ensure continuity of Emaar culture company has also proceeded to put in place a management succession plan with Ram Charan.

Emaar’s global presence can be gauged from the fact that in 2006 alone it acquired three big companies: John Laing Homes, Hamptons International and Turner International Middle East.
Emaar’s track-record in revenue generation is excellent since it determines the health of a company. Emaar generated revenues of AED 14.006 billion and net profits of AED 6.371 billion in the financial year, 2006, increase of 68 per and 35 per cent, respectively, over the previous financial year.

Speaking on Emaar’s global ambition at the conference, Mr. Alabbar had said, “There comes a time when you out-grow the local market and feel the need to scale up and take that leap from local to global.”

Barely two months after making that statement, Emaar MGF (a joint venture) is making heading-turning moves in India: Asia’s most exciting real estate market. On January 4, it won a bid to construct 1,168 (number of flats) nine-storey residential flats, comprising a built-up area of 201,280 sq. mts, for the Commonwealth Games Village (will be held in New Delhi in 2010) at a price of 3.2 billion USD.

Emaar MGF plans to invest more than half a billion US dollars in real estate projects planned in prominent Indian cities. In 2006, Emaar launched pilot projects in India, Pakistan and Egypt. It has successfully completed the construction of seven offices, six sales centers and two “Street of Dreams” in international markets, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, India and Morocco.

In such a scenario, Emaar intends to capitalize on ‘fortune at the bottom of pyramid’ theory. This theory is derived from renowned researcher and change leader, Professor C. K. Prahalad’s (of university of Michigan) book ‘Fortune at the Bottom of Pyramid.’ It means that there is purchasing power and demand at the lowest income levels of society and there is a fortune to be made if products are designed creatively at low cost and sold at low prices.

Mr. Alabbar was confident that Emaar will succeed in other markets as well because of the persistent requests by their clients to offer similar services in their home countries.

One of the primary reasons for Emaar’s success story, according to Mr. Alabbar, is their emphasis on ‘community living’ and ‘luxury lifestyle’ which is missing in most emerging economies in the region and Asia.

Mr. Alabbar believes in empowering people – which he considers as a part of larger theme – in order to transform their lives.

“Today, while we continue to focus on our core brand value of delivery”, he said, “our global ambitions have led us to larger themes of empowering people to live their lives fully, inspiring new generations to challenge the status quo and giving people hope for a better future.”

Emaar has been making waves on the corporate power list as well. It is the first and only real estate company in the region to be ranked in the Financial Times Global 500 list of the world’s top-notch organizations.

Mr. Alabbar too was ranked high in the Fortune 500. He was named 5th in Power Positions category.

A graduate of The Albers School of Business and Economics, Seattle University, Mr. Alabbar has spoken in a number of international forums including representing the UAE at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Just as Sheikh Mohammed has been an inspiration to Mr. Alabbar; Mr. Alabbar's own achievements has made him an inspiration for other leaders to come.

Zain: A New Look with a Global Vision

Zain's Logo Stands for Freshness, Boldness and Vitality

Zain, the 24-year old Kuwait-based mobile telecommunications company (formerly MTC), seems to work on a basic philosophy: You are never too old to dream a new dream.

If “dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions,” Zain's answer today to global competitiveness is an enviable vision of making itself the first communications company in the world to enter the global list of top 100 companies.
Zain – Middle East’s first mobile operator – envisions to become a global wireless operator executing its focussed 3x3x3 profitable expansion plan by 2011.

The 3x3x3 plan seeks to make Zain a global player in three stages: regional, international and global, with each stage completed in three years, with an aim of reaching a subscriber base of 70 million. Thus what the company aims to achieve in nine years, other companies have taken more than 27 years to achieve!

“Now, we are entering a new and dynamic chapter in our history,” Dr. Saad Al Barrak, CEO Zain Group said, “one that will take us into the top ten of global mobile telecommunications companies.”

The company aspires to enhance its client base in operational stages of expansion. In 2003, the company was operating in Kuwait alone; now it is operating in 22 countries.

With a modest beginning, today Zain has metamorphosed into a big corporate entity employing 13,500 employees serving over 36.47 million customers in seven Middle Eastern and now a major player on the African continen with presence in 15 sub-Saharan African countries.

At Zain, simplicity is the soul of strategic management. It focuses on “combining value creation” and “internal growth” from existing operations. And to pursue “aggressive expansion into new geographies” Zain is working on the following four strategic elements.

1. Mass market focus and segmented customer strategy: Zain is focusing to enter mass market in full throttle. It targets to reach at least 70% of the market – both in terms of subscribers as well as segment value. The subscriber growth will be generated through aggressively targeting under-penetrated segments, whereas value growth will come from the existing customer base. It aims to attain 50% market share in markets where Zain is a “leader” and a minimum of 30% market share in markets where Zain is a “challenger.”

2. Competitive positioning and differentiation strategy: What makes Zain competitive and different is not only its “price-only” focus but a “combination of differentiated elements” of their “value proposition.” The company classifies customers into value segments of different class and addresses them all.

3. High-value technology strategy: Invention and exploration are the technological buzzwords at Zain. Yet, it only invests in commercially viable technologies in order to benefit the customer from the full range of services that at the same time add value both internally and to end-customers.

4. Company management strategy: It aims at “synergy realization” and “excellence” by assuming and promoting a “people-oriented culture.” It also rewards and empowers its employees in line with their performance.

Last year, Zain launched ACE which it calls as “an implementation strategy” to realize the “target of the 3x3x3 vision.” The program seeks to extract “superior value” from existing assets with the help of accelerating growth in Africa; consolidating the existing assets and expanding it into adjacent markets. By ACE, Zain seeks to attain a US$ 6 Billion EBITDA exceeding 70 million customers and to become one of the top ten leading telecom companies in the world by market capitalization.

As a part of global new branding, Zain Group has come up with a new logo and theme – A Wonderful World. It captures Zain’s “energy, inspiration and diversity.” The new logo’s colourful identity reflects “freshness, boldness and vitality with the ‘swirl’ communicating the idea of an aura, something important to human life echoing growth, progression and diversity.”

The name Zain was selected after going through over a list of 400 names, a result of extensive research with the help of professional consultants. 'Zain' was chosen for its “simplicity, memorability and ease of pronunciation across the global marketplace.”

The brand name Zain reminds us of what Da Vinci said: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.As an added advantage, Zain was found to be rich in meaning and its appeal lay in its wide acceptability. For example, in Arabic, Zain means ‘beautiful, good and wonderful”, in Latin it means ‘dark horse’ and it has many positive meanings in other cultures found in Africa, Asia, Europe and beyond.

Zain’s values are based on three words: radiance, heart and belonging.

“Such values are not new to us… The difference now is that we have formally adopted them as business drivers,” Dr. Al Barrak said.

Zain has also successfully engaged with the world’s topmost telecom companies; most recently on January 7, 2008 when it signed a contract with Finnish-German telecom Group Nokia Siemens Network for 1 billion USD to build a mobile telephone network in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

As the world gets globalized, the ‘dark horse’ of Zain keeps running its race in order to convert dreamt dreams into a reality.

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