As we are frequently told by the UAE leaders, "The race for excellence has no finish line". Business is a race. Upon meeting him, you first notice Faisal Al Maeena's fast walk and his smile.
The Emirati businessman moves very quickly indeed, with a grace you normally associated with athletes. "Business is like sports," he tells Khaleej Times in an interview. "You need to be better than your opponent, train harder, prepare yourself and jump at the right time.”
Faisal Al Maeena, Founder and Chairman of EMIC Group, adopts this tactic in all of his businesses. The company was established by him in 1996, which he manages along with his private office with a very hands-on approach. He is directly involved in all of the group's activities by either owning, operating, or investing in more than 20 sectors, ranging from real estate, facility management, architecture, engineering, interior design, retail, F&B, hospitality, events management, leisure, and last but not least, solar manufacturing. "I like constant evolution, transformation, and progress in business. It is just like a race. We must continuously adapt to the circumstances, grow and improve, modify, regroup and expand." This positivity is something he has observed in the UAE leaders he looks up to and is something he instilled not only in his children, but his employees as well. Al Maeena credits good energy as one of the key elements necessary for success. Business is undoubtedly an area where you need all the qualities of good governance to come together to succeed. "We live in a challenging world, but we should welcome challenges. They make us stronger, more resilient and teach us to appreciate success." This attitude is the ideal definition of a forward-looking Emirati: a modern businessman who adheres to his strong beliefs and values, and ethics in his business practices. It is evident that Al Maeena enjoys the business. Even at times of international turmoil and issues beyond one’s control, such as pandemics or regional conflicts that impact international relations and operations, business remains one of his passions.
His company alongside his private office were created out of a desire to do more, achieve more, and reach higher. He gradually expanded the group's activities into various sectors to secure its future. Understanding diversity is essential to remain stable; EMIC ventured not only into different fields, but also territories. "We work with various entities from other countries to cooperate with the best possible partners in certain fields for everyone's success. We built successful partnerships with foreign companies for our mutual benefits." His vision includes giving back to the community and choosing initiatives to support. Whether it is a charity he decides to donate to or a cause to advocate, Al Maeena is among the businessmen representing the UAE during official delegations abroad. "It is not only a great opportunity, but also a great honour," he says. "I think it is important to explore how businesses are being done in different places, learn from their experiences and adapt accordingly to our needs." When analysing EMIC's portfolio, it is noticeable that Al Maeena aims for diversity. "It is crucial", he explains, "to retain relevance in the market, to ensure different sources of income as well as to remain competitive. Our goal is to exceed expectations. With various partners, both in the UAE and abroad, we hold ourselves responsible for being the best partner we can be. Solar production was a natural next step for us. Our 55,000m2 solar cells manufacturing facility in ICAD is the first of its kind in the region and will supply demand regionally as well as export units abroad.”
The UAE government has set out various initiatives, such as the ‘Energy Strategy 2050’. Based on supply and demand, considered the first unified energy strategy in the UAE, its goal is to increase the contribution of clean energy from 25 to 50 per cent by 2050 and reduce the carbon footprint of power generation by 70 per cent, saving Dh700 million by 2050 as well as increase consumption efficiency by individuals and corporates by 40 per cent. These are ambitious plans, but Al Maeena is confident that if businesses work together, they are achievable.
Whenever starting any business, Al Maeena has a pivotal goal at its core: to leave the world a better place than it was before.
Solar manufacture certainly fits this objective on multiple levels. It will positively change the job market severely affected by Covid-19. EMIC solar manufacturing aims to hire skilled persons on a domestic level as well internationally. Both Emiratisation as well as equality, is the focus within their process, and the company is looking to hire professionals in the UAE as well as abroad alongside the expansion of BD. According to IRENA, solar will make up the largest share of renewable energy jobs in 2050, with 19.9 million jobs, followed by bioenergy (13.7 million), wind (5.5 million) and hydropower (3.7 million). Exporting solar abroad will influence business with other countries and territories.
Building an independent solar manufactory will significantly influence the UAE's energy supply chain and increase the country's ability to remain safe from rising domestic and global demand for affordable solar energy.
“We will considerably decrease the UAE's dependence on foreign energy supply through EMIC solar manufacture, which will positively impact the country's energy security,” says Al Maeena.
"I have invested Dh150 million so far, and I am determined to create a long-lasting solar manufacturing facility, able to operate alongside existing conglomerates such as Masdar, not as a competitor, but as an ally in this venture which will positively contribute to the wellbeing of the entire world," he adds. "And seeing the world at the moment, in its vulnerable position, we must all work together to make it better for us and future generations."
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