‘With hard work, success is possible’


‘With hard work, success is possible’

On Tuesday evening, one of the UAE’s most influential businessmen, Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, celebrated the launch of his much-anticipated autobiography.


Kelly Clarke

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Published: Thu 15 Nov 2012, 9:32 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:27 PM

Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group, Al Habtoor left all traces of modesty at the door with the launch of ‘Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor: The Autobiography’ and when Khaleej Times asked what the driving force behind the book was, he responded: “I thought this would be a form of encouragement for future generations. It shows that with hard work, success is possible. We are achieving great results in our country (UAE) and we have to set an example to the people.”

Well documented for his laid back nature and open-minded attitude, the business legend did not disappoint when greeting guests at the Habtoor Grand Resort and Spa.

As guests began filling the photo gallery, Al Habtoor’s warm character lit up the room and the photos on show took one on a visual journey through his remarkable life. Key candid moments included those as a young boy growing up in the desert and featured many of Al Habtoor rubbing shoulders with worldwide influential figures including The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Baha El Deen Al Hariri and Queen Elizabeth II, to name just a few.

Noted as one of the top five businessmen in the UAE, the book will inevitably rocket to the top of the ‘must buy’ list for budding entrepreneurs throughout the Gulf and the rest of the world.

The autobiography emulates a true ‘rags to riches’ story, taking you on a journey through the highs and lows of life, as Al Habtoor lived it. With a passion for business spurning from an early age, this book is not one of self-indulgence, as Al Habtoor cites many self-deprecating moments. He opened up to the audience: “One thing that is very important, is that you have to improve with growth. In the book, I have noted a lot of my faults, mistakes and losses. You cannot succeed all the time. If you don’t fail in some areas, you will never learn.”

His decision to delve so deep and share so much with his reader creates a personal relationship between audience and author, making it sure to be a hit with many.

Business portfolio

With a business portfolio that would casts shadows over competitors in his field, Al Habtoor’s autobiography transcribes his climb as a young boy from humble beginnings to world renowned business legend.

As the crowd settled in the ballroom for the official launch, a video began playing, depicting Al Habtoor’s overview of the autobiography. He explained how it covers areas relating to him personally and socially as well as those delving into politics and business. He lightened the tone by adding: “And of course, there is stuff in there to make people laugh too.”

As the video roll continued, Al Habtoor raised many a smile when reminiscing on his childhood days racing camels. “I used to ride camels with my friends when the landscape looked like this (he points to sanded area on video).” When asked who won, he paused and smiled, raising laughter amongst the audience. He then continued: “Of course, it was always me. I was small and light.”

With close friends in attendance, Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research; Dr Rafia Obaid Ghubash; and Paul Findley, former US congressman and friend of Al Habtoor’s for 27 years, spoke in honour of the well loved businessman.

Paul Findley spoke emotionally about his relationship with Al Habtoor. “The first moment I met Khalaf, I knew he was a man of his word. He never deviated from what he promised and our friendship never waivered. For that, I am eternally grateful.” Al Habtoor denotes family as being an important ingredient to his success, with many photographs of them featured in the autobiography. He says he had a very happy childhood and was very lucky to have parents who supported his decisions, successful or not. In one of the final video snippets, Al Habtoor is surrounded by his grandchildren and is seen grinning from ear to ear: “After a day of such enormous pressure, I come home and see these little kids ... these little creatures and that is the oxygen of my day.” The audience then proceeded to laugh and applaud as the video came to an end.

Partnership with RTA

Al Habtoor is partnering up with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to help with the development of the Business Bay Canal Project, which was recently endorsed by Shaikh Mohammed. Reported to commence completion around the same time as the Habtoor palace — a project, which will see three hotels erected on Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Habtoor said: “I think this will benefit both of us (RTA and Al Habtoor Group). We know how to develop landscapes and incorporate good road access and I think this will be a landmark project for us.”

So, whether you’re a hard nosed businessman looking for that recipe for success, or simply just a family man looking for an interesting read, Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor: The Autobiography, will certainly have you reaching for the next page.— kelly@khaleejtimes.com

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