Building on a dream
Friday, August 03, 2012

Rizwan Sajan, founder and chairman of the Danube Group, reveals a few home truths, and talks about how his company grew from strength to strength in the construction sector

How did you go from earning Dh1, 500 in a hardware store to owning a company with an annual turnover of over Dh1.5 billion?

Success to me is not about monetary benefits, but the ability to achieve your dreams. I have always focused on my goals paying attention to minute details. My family has been my pillar of support and I am where I stand today because of their unconditional love and support.

It was sheer hard 
work and the right focus 
that made our business grow even in hard times. Apart from hard work, luck and timing also play a crucial role.

Always remember: things happen step by step, not overnight, so have a vision for the future and work towards it, and success is bound to be yours.

When and where did you build your first home? What was the feeling like?

When we moved to Dubai, we stayed in a rented apartment in Karama but I always wanted to have a place I could call my own. It was only in 2004 when my dream came true and we bought our first house in Dubai Marina.

At that time, Dubai Marina was a secluded area… I still remember the day we had to move into our house, we all had mixed emotions specially my wife, who was happy and excited, but at the same time found it very difficult to move into the new place. She was very attached to the apartment in Karama… that was the place where we shared and lived some of our most precious moments. But like all good things change for the better, so did this.

What makes a house a home?

I firmly believe ‘Home is where the heart is.’ It is a place where you feel loved, appreciated and safe… It provides space for individual pursuits, personal relationships and relaxation. And, your family... the feeling of bonding is what makes a house a home. 

Any advice for those building their first homes?

While building a new house, it is important to remember that you are building the base for a home. To make sure your new house fulfills your own vision… it is essential to value each one’s input while laying the foundation. Always remember, family bonding happens naturally, but it can be strengthened with a little effort.

Additionally, work out your budget beforehand, and consider factors such as location, easy accessibility, future plans, value of your home, etc.

Our home is what we make it. It is a reflection of our tastes and preferences. No two people are same and the same thing applies to a house. Two different people would decorate the same space with their own thoughts and ideas and come up with entirely two different kinds of décor.

Bling or warmth — what do you personally prefer coming home to?

It definitely has to be warmth! At the end of a busy day, it’s extremely relaxing to make yourself a hot cup of coffee and enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

Your company has been involved in the construction of some of Dubai’s most iconic structures, but if you had to choose one you are proudest being associated with, which would it be?

The company has been involved with projects such as the Burj Khalifa, Yas Island development, Meydan Race Course, Dubai Sports City, Motor City, Palm Jumeirah, and many more. All of these hold a special position in my heart.

But if I had to choose one, it would be the Burj Khalifa as it set its own standard in a city that is no stranger to monumental skyscrapers. The world’s tallest tower is a world-class destination and a precious gem that astounds millions around the world. It truly is a masterpiece and we are proud that we had an opportunity to be associated with it.

You were awarded the 
Visionary of the Year award earlier this year. What is your vision for your company?

It was an honour to be recognised as a visionary in the first edition of the Indian CEO Awards. The award is a testament to my company’s dedication and commitment. This award has given us the vision to aim for long-term goals for the company and to improve the lifestyle of our customers by providing innovative products and services.

You recently launched the Danube Interior Design Awards 2012. What was the reason behind the initiative?

The Danube-APID Student Interior Design Competition was developed as an adjunct to typical course work, in which students could utilise skills learned through their current academic development in the design of an interior environment with far-reaching appeal.

Launching the competition was part of a move to help boost the region’s interior design industry and also to discover the talent of emerging interior designers. The success has given us the assurance to lay the groundwork for a more exciting and activity-filled second edition of the competition.

How do you unwind?

It is very important to unwind to gain control over your mind and thoughts. Being able to relax helps one achieve a healthy mind. I am fanatical about my daily yoga, and go swimming at least five days a week. I am also a very sociable person, so you will see me doing a lot of things with my very large circle of friends, even going on vacations together. My wife and I love going to the cinemas, and we party almost every week. We vacation twice a year and go on pilgrimage every year. I have a very balanced life, while believing in living life to the fullest.


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