Hussain Sajwani was born and raised in the UAE. He recalls that as a schoolboy he used to go to his father’s shop to relate everything he had learned that day. He attributes the time he spent in his father’s shop as molding his business savvy. He says his father taught him many of the business tricks that would remain with him throughout his life. He entered adult life with an education in Baghdad and then Seattle in the United States. During the educational years of the 70s, he studied industrial engineering and economics at the University of Washington.
In 1982 he graduated and returned home to start his business life. He first entered the property ventures world in 1996. In 2002 he became founder and CEO of Damac Properties. However, like many other businesses, it went completely bankrupt in the aftermath of the 2008 worldwide economic crash. During this time Sajwani was one of the hardest hit Dubai developers. He says he was shocked beyond belief when a financial report came to him showing a 60% drop. He did what he could to save his company—letting people go, cutting overhead, cutting the budget of planned projects in half—but it was all for naught.
The company went bankrupt. But amazingly he rebuilt DP afterward to an even more successful enterprise. It was definitely not easy, but he managed to climb out of the hole and end up on top. In 2013, DAMAC became the first real estate firm in the Middle East to be listed on the London Stock Exchange. While this is his most lucrative, Sajwani has several other very successful projects such as the $6.5 billion Akoya Oxygen community project. According to Forbes, he is currently the world’s richest Arab, having a net worth of about $3.7 billion.