Money & Me: Extraordinary journey of Dubai real estate broker

Ahid Shaikh Mohammed is the director of Deja Vu Real Estate, a broker in Dubai that offers property investment advice and properties for sale or rent. He is also the co-founder of two other Dubai-based companies – Hammer and Nail (a fit-out and interiors company) and Sandstone Development (property developers). The 35-year-old from India moved to the emirate in 2004.

Describe your financial journey so far.

It has been extraordinary. I come from a humble background in Mumbai, where every expense had to be carefully planned. Like many, I came to Dubai for higher achievements, after completing my master’s in retail from Scotland. Initially I worked as an analyst until my brother Akif and I saw a scope in penetrating the real estate market in Dubai. My journey from the start of Deja Vu Real Estate until now is a story in itself – all the experience from the ups in the beginning and the downs during the economic downturn in 2008 has brought me a long way. Now I manage people’s wealth to make them wealthier by providing them with expert advice to the best of my ability. We have also recently launched our first building under our very own property development company called Sandstone Development. I am content with what I have achieved today. However, I still feel I am on my way to achieving significantly more in the coming years.

Are you a spender or saver?

From a young age I was presented with the dilemma of spending versus saving. My parents were unable to balance this out. Because of necessity they spent – we were 11 family members living in a one-bedroom apartment. Therefore, my family inherited a need to spend, but we spent wisely. My father spent all of his money on our education, and today I share this belief of spending, or investing. If spending translates into investment that benefits my family, then this is spending I will stand by.

What is your philosophy towards money?

My objective has never been to make money. I believe that money is an outcome of an action. My aim in business has been to create an institution and corporation that is strong in its field. In doing so, money will be generated. Most importantly, keeping honesty, transparency and growth for everyone is my fundamental of growing in business.

Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?

Yes and no. I can say yes in terms of losing out on an opportunity where I could have made more money than I did; this happens in business. I can also say no because I have been in the real estate industry for a long time. When I started I was a complete amateur, but I have survived and emerged as a more mature business man.

If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?

As mentioned earlier, I am a spender. I would immediately spend on an investment. I would look at how to multiply it and create a steady revenue, using a model that generates a strong and steady yield. I would enjoy the revenue generated from the Dh1m I invested and not spend the principal.

What has been your best investment?

A business that invests in people, because in the end it is the people who make you succeed. I believe that I have the best team in my industry sector.

Do you plan for the future?

I never plan for my future, but for my grandchildren’s future. If I plan their future well, I will do far better than if I only plan my future. It is known as forward thinking with backward implementation.

* Mahmoud Kassem

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