Success is a journey, not an end point. It won’t happen overnight, and persistence will end up being your most important quality. Stay tough, and you’ll be able to handle any obstacle that life and business throws at you.
Sulaiman Al-Fahim is an international business leader based in Dubai. A native of the UAE, Sulaiman was raised working in his father’s pharmacy, learning early on of the value of diligent, smart business practices. Lessons learned in a neighborhood shop helped build a true leader in his field, with a proven reputation across the continents as a proficient, forward thinking, and dynamic authority.
Sulaiman Al-Fahim’s eye on the future is emblematic of his home country, a nation with deep cultural traditions that simultaneously operates at the cutting edge of global business. Far from being a contradiction, this strong foundation serves as an unshakeable starting point from which Sulaiman and many like him have taken to the world’s stage with tenacity.
His company Sulaiman Al-Fahim Holdings is a global operator, facilitating transactions to beautify and develop properties in far-flung corners of the world. Sulaiman Al-Fahim’s experience in project management and bringing ideas to life has helped establish his namesake company as one of the premier holding companies arising from the fastest-growing city in the world.
Sulaiman Al-Fahim’s business interests extend even further beyond real estate and property development, with his advisory role and partnership in the First Islamic Crypto Exchange (FICE), a group bringing the largest new movement in financial technology to the Muslim world. To stay stagnant is to guarantee failure, so taking the lead on such bold initiatives has been one of Sulaiman Al-Fahim’s foundational principles.
Apart from his businesses, Sulaiman Al-Fahim is active in philanthropy, sharing the benefits of his success with young people and underserved populations both in the UAE and abroad. As a mentor, he’s overseen the UAE Chess Foundation, identifying and supporting promising young talents in the intellectual game. A former champion himself, Sulaiman Al-Fahim has proven more than willing to impart the lessons he once learned to the next generation of competitors.
Constructing a better future is no small task, but it is one that Sulaiman Al-Fahim has been doing all his life. Whether in sports, healthcare, construction, finance, or any other area, he brings a strong set of proven values and an undeterred vision for success. Operating on the international landscape requires a keen sensitivity to diplomatic and financial worlds that are ever-changing. With an ambitious eye and a resolute hand, Sulaiman Al-Fahim is in the process of constructing an undeniable legacy for both himself and his homeland.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
The driving force behind my businesses is the work ethic I learned at an early age. Working at my father’s pharmacy as a child I developed many important skills that stayed with me, like minding details, keeping organized, and treating customers well. For my father, his business was much more than a job–he understood the value of his work to the community, and passed that emphasis down to me. Working in the pharmacy was an eye-opening experience, one that helped create me as a businessman and a person.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts at 4am. I go for a run in the early dawn, then come home to eat my breakfast and read the news, and take stock of my goals for the day. I’ve almost always got a meeting scheduled soon afterward, whether with clients, investors, or any number of people. At the end of the day, if I’ve hit every goal I set for myself, I consider that a success.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Writing down my ideas is the first step towards making them real. Next comes turning them into a business plan, adding crucial details and necessary steps. At the same time, I’m analyzing my plan, and estimating how it will fit into the current market. This requires research and consultation, and plenty of diligent work. To sum it up, I bring ideas to life by making every little detail into reality, then putting them all together.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Cloud technology has so much potential that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of, and it excites me to think what’s possible using data alone. Several generations ago, most people didn’t own a computer. Now, everyone has at least 2 or 3. Imagining what the next step will be is exhilarating.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
As large as my business dealings get, I always think back to my father’s store. Things were never guaranteed back then, and every day brought challenges that could have dramatically affected the future of the family. Simply put, I know success is never guaranteed. That’s why I enter every day knowing it could be my last. Rather than feeling intimidated by this knowledge, I’m emboldened by it. Knowing that nothing is promised allows me to make decisions freely, and to make the most of each minute I’m here. That is the key to my productivity.
What advice would you give your younger self?
That success is a journey, not an end point. It won’t happen overnight, and persistence will end up being your most important quality. Stay tough, and you’ll be able to handle any obstacle that life and business throws at you.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Talk less and do more, hence why we have one mouth and two ears. Yes, you must plan and analyze, but never be afraid to put your words into action.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Always challenge yourself. You never know what you’re capable of unless you go out there and do it. Set a goal, stay focused on it, and the results may often surprise you.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
There are always gaps in the market, and one of your most important jobs is to find them. Every market change results in a new avenue for opportunity, and such shifts happen every day. Stay aware of them and you’ll never go hungry. The choice to expand internationally was a difficult one for Hydra leadership before I became CEO. Once I had the top spot, I made it a priority, and we’ve seen incredible success since.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I hesitate to use the word “failure,” since that implies that nothing good came of it. Even the worst shortcoming can be a learning opportunity. When I first started, I surrounded myself with a team that, while I enjoyed their company, were not equipped to help carry my business ideas to success. It took a great deal of introspection, but I was able to build a trustworthy team, piece by piece, into the unmatched group I have today.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Recycling waste products to make diesel fuel. It’s cleaner than its reputation makes it seem, and this kind of creative energy problem-solving is one of the major growth areas of the future. Once people understand how the process works, they’ll be on board in an instant.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
When I think of money I’ve spent, it’s my philanthropic spending that always feels the most rewarding. Whether rich or poor, we all live on the same planet, and I feel that carries a duty to help one another when we can. If you do good for others, you’re fulfilling the highest ideals of humanity.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
While social media has it’s negative qualities, I’ve found LinkedIn to be an incredibly useful resource to make new connections and strengthen existing ones. Having access to a global network of professionals is one of the most amazing benefits.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress by Steven Pinker.
Pinker sets out fifteen different measures of human wellbeing and uses clear research to argue that we are living in the most peaceful time of human history, despite what we see in the news. While we must not ignore the world’s problems, it does us well to remember that things are much better now than they have been at any point in history. Pinker’s argument in the end of the book stipulates “…we will never have a perfect world, and it would be dangerous to seek one. But there is no limit to the betterments we can attain if we continue to apply knowledge to enhance human flourishing.”
What is your favorite quote?
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” Joel Arthur Barker
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.