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Al Hayat Group’s Chairman and CEO on why charity is as important as investing

Hadi Al Alawi takes his cue from the Islamic practice of Zakat to emphasise the importance of charity, and Al Hayat Group’s efforts to contribute to innovation around the world reflect this mindset.

Chairman and CEO Hadi Al Alawi boldly proclaims that the Al Hayat Group brings “a family flavour to all of our business”.

For a company that has such a global presence, with fingers in numerous pies, that’s a big claim. As an organisation grows to such a size, it would likely be difficult to maintain any semblance of family spirit.

Nevertheless, the company continues to champion values that it believes to be a result of its family-run nature – integrity, innovation, trust, cooperation, commitment to quality, loyalty and discipline.

Under Al Alawi, who also founded the business, Al Hayat Group operates from its headquarters in the Kingdom of Bahrain, forming global partnerships to feed innovation, while also managing a collection of joint ventures, wholly owned subsidiaries and operating divisions.

With a presence in various sectors – from communications to interior design, hospitality and travel to investment and finance – the family business manages projects like ANMSoft, a world leader in software development and IT;, the first Middle East online travel platform; and Celebrity Corner by Walla, a luxury designer brand.

This complex web of sectors and businesses is no doubt facilitated by what Al Alawi sees as a spirit of cooperation and familiarity between Bahrain and other Gulf nations.

“The beauty with us here in the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries – Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – is that we are all very close,” he says.

“We meet, we work together, and you will find that most families share the same businesses, and represent the same international companies – 80% of the businesses in the Gulf are family owned.”

With such experience in managing family wealth, Al Alawi was one of the invitees to the 10th Global Family Office Investment Summit, hosted by Sir Anthony Ritossa in Dubai.

With an emphasis on impactful investing and positively affecting the lives of communities around the world, it’s not surprising that Al Alawi was selected to join the summit. When it comes to making a difference through investment, he takes his cues from his faith.

“One of the five pillars of Islam, Zakat, or charity, is a religious obligation for all Muslims who meet the necessary criteria of wealth,” asserts Al Alawi. “It is a mandatory charitable contribution, and our tradition is that 20% of what we earn must go to charity.

“Money can buy anything tangible, but it will not buy you credibility, honesty, love and loyalty; these you need to develop with the relationships you build, which can in turn bring you more wealth than the money you earn.”

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