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Why A CEO Left His Family Business To Launch A Dubai-Based Hospitality Company

Instead of joining his family’s jewelry business, Mahdi Amjad forged his own career, first in technology and then real estate. Combining the two, Amjad now leads two groups as executive chairman, Almasa Holdings, which focuses on technology distribution, software and e-Commerce; and Omniyat, a real-estate group specializing in bespoke residential partnerships with elite hotel groups. Amjad has re-defined the standard of luxury across Dubai. Omniyat’s portfolio, including the brand’s flagship properties—One at Palm Jumeirah, Dorchester Collection; Dubai, The Residences, Dorchester Collection; and Dubai, The Opus—is currently valued at over $5 billion.

How did you first get interested in the real estate industry? What are some of the signatures of the projects you choose? Fifteen years ago, I saw a lot of developments in Dubai that focused on mass production, so I saw an opportunity to provide a more detail-orientated proposition. The projects that fall under the remit of Omniyat are all unique, I would say that this in itself is the signature of what we stand for. We work with leading architects, designers, contractors and consultants to re-define the standard of luxury across the region. Our flagship properties embody this approach, including One at Palm Jumeirah and The Residences, both managed by Dorchester Collection and The Opus by Omniyat.

You chose not to join your family business and instead ventured out on your own. Tell me a little about the thinking behind that decision and how you knew what you wanted to do for a career? At the age of 18, alongside my studies, I was also working in my family’s jewelry business, which I didn’t find that exciting. I didn’t believe the sector was one I could add value to or revolutionize. I was always looking to enter the world of trade, as the buying and selling of products has always motivated me. 

Early in my career, I put my energy into a number of different roles but I hadn’t yet found my passion. Later, an opportunity arose in the technology industry, right at the beginning of the tech boom. I found the tech space inspiring due to the ever-changing trends and developments. At that moment, I found my entrepreneurial passion. I could apply my trading expertise and my business mindset, as well as playing a role in revolutionizing the industry. 

What are some of the trends you’ve noticed already in high-end real estate and what are some of the trends you are seeing for the future—both in technology and aesthetics? Our vision is to provide the ultimate luxury-lifestyle experience—location, architecture, interior, hospitality and service quality—to our desired customer segment.

Customers are looking for unique experiences, and we believe the building has to speak for itself. Our approach is bespoke, and that for me is the most important future trend: to identify customer needs and provide them with solutions that cater to their specific desires. This is what inspired me with One at Palm Jumeirah, Dorchester Collection, Dubai. I wanted to create the ultimate experience in the city. That drove me to design a beachfront property in the city.  

What are some of the innovations in technology that are helping you and your business through Covid-19? We have been offering virtual 360-degree tours and solutions for our customers to experience our properties in real-time. And through video conferencing tools, our customers can talk directly with our sales managers, regardless of where they are in the world. Aside from technology, we also have a high level of trust from our clients, in the quality of our properties and our offering.

There is a growing demand for well-known hotel brands to move into the residential market—what accounts for this and what makes these properties unique? Hospitality brands are using their vast experience and knowledge on serving people’s needs to make this approach unique. When you apply that to a residential building, you get a unique experience, which is desirable for this segment.

Looking now at our projects, that’s exactly what we did. We selected the best possible hospitality brand to serve our desired customer base and that was Dorchester Collection. Residents will be able to enjoy lifestyle services provided by Dorchester Collection and immerse themselves in a curated mix of boutiques, fine-dining, beauty, lifestyle shops, specialty cafes and gourmet providers. The property perfectly captures the essence of chic metropolitan living and offers buyers from around the world an unequalled lifestyle experience through the 39 exclusive ultra-high-end residences in this 32-storey building.

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