The stamp of Khansaheb construction can be found across the UAE: from roads and government offices to hotels, restaurants and shopping malls, the family business has played a highly visible role in building the Emirates since it was established in 1935.
But the name is starting to become recognised for its other interests as well, in particular, health care, manufacturing, real estate, food and beverage, and aviation training. Khansaheb Investment’s Managing Director Amer Khansaheb explains to The CEO Magazine that it’s all part of a deliberate strategy to enlarge the scope of the business.
“The goal was to expand in terms of both industry and geography, so we don’t have all our revenues coming from one industry in one market,” he says.
“We want to manage country-specific risk, strengthen the business and make it resilient to economic downturns and black swans.” Although the company that was founded by the uncle of Amer’s grandfather, Hussain Bin Amad Khansaheb, has its roots in trading, maintenance and construction, by its very nature, Khansaheb Investments is a holding business.
For Amer, there was never any doubt that he would join the family business – when the time was right. He completed his undergraduate studies in Lebanon, graduating from the American University of Beirut with a Bachelor’s in Civil and Environmental Engineering.
He also holds a Master of Science (Project Management) from the British University in Dubai and is a fully qualified Chartered Financial Analyst. Early positions included a business analyst and consultant role at Deloitte before he returned to the Khansaheb fold almost a decade ago.
In February 2012 he became Khansaheb Investment’s Managing Director, although he also holds many other titles within its portfolio. At the core of his mission is the goal to expand and diversify its interests.
He goal was to expand in terms of both industry and geography, so we don’t have all our revenues coming from one industry in one market.
From construction, real estate was a natural starting point. Manufacturing was another connected market and, when the family acquired the global intellectual property rights of Spiralite, the world’s first energy-saving ductwork, Khansaheb Industries was born in 2016.
This lightweight, non-metallic insulated air duct has already been installed in more than 600 projects across the world, from the UK and Ireland to Singapore, Spain, Oman and, of course, the UAE.
Other investment decisions have been guided by where Amer and his team have spotted opportunity: in the F&B space, Trouvaille is its French-Lebanese restaurant concept that, by the end of 2020, will count three branches in Dubai.
Also in Dubai, Dynamic Advanced Training is the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia’s first independent aviation safety training facility, which welcomes students from across the region as well as Central Asia and Europe. Health care is another market the company has invested in.
The biggest lesson that Amer has taken from the three generations of Khansahebs who have come before him? “In business, you win some and you lose some, but you can’t lose your integrity. If you do, you lose everything,” he explains. “Money comes and goes; some projects make money, others don’t. What keeps the company going is our reputation for integrity and professional dealings.”
“It’s common for wealthy people in the UAE to travel abroad for their healthcare needs so there was a gap in the market for high-quality domestic health care,” Amer explains.
A partner was identified in Lebanon’s Clemenceau Medical Center, a much-lauded facility that is affiliated with John Hopkins Medicine International. In March 2020, Dubai’s Clemenceau Medical Center opened in Dubai Healthcare City with 100 beds, state-of-the-art facilities and highly qualified doctors from the US, Europe and Lebanon.
Each business in the company portfolio has its own unique culture and management team, but there are certain characteristics common across all of them. “We respect and take care of our staff and our supply chain, and we work to the highest standards of integrity and professionalism,” Amer explains.
They also share an overriding business philosophy to do good in society. “Wherever we set up a business or look into investing, the main question we ask ourselves is whether or not this will benefit the environment or society as a whole. That is the key driver in all our decision-making processes.”
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