The CEO Middle East Awards recognize some of the regions top entrepreneurs and world-changing company leaders, and in the hospitality industry the Top Property CEO award went to DAMAC owner Hussain Sajwani this last year. Sajwani has been the leader behind some of the best hotel, vacation properties and luxury housing communities in the UAE and his company’s portfolio keeps growing by the year. He currently has 5 world class hotels under management with 26 other properties, and his company AUM were last reported at $1.9 billion with future property values likely to put him over $20 billion. What’s made Sajwani’s business management spectacular is how he’s been able to manage the DAMAC Properties budget and keep its debts paid off, and he even was able to recover lost property values after the 2008 housing crisis.
Hussain Sajwani officially started his DAMAC company in 2002, but he had already begun building his portfolio with smaller property purchases in the years leading up to it. He began his professional career in 1981 after graduating from the University of Washington and entering the oil industry first as a contracts manager for GASCO, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. A few years later he decided to start a catering company that distributed food not only throughout the Middle East, but even into regions in Africa and Europe. The business made millions in revenue and Sajwani was even thanked by US military leaders for supplying personnel with great quality food during the Gulf War of 1991. But Sajwani realized he could do a lot more through buying luxury properties.
Hussain Sajwani started investing in private equity in the early 1990s when he bought stakes in DICO Investments which manages DAMAC’s financial holdings. He also acquired Al Anwar Ceramic Tiles and part of Al Ahlia Insurance Company, and the first big vacation property he completed was Marina Terrace. From there he started building DAMAC Tower with its Versace design, opened the AKOYA property, The Piazza and also has opened several golf course projects with the Trump organization. Sajwani has been a longtime friend of current US President Donald Trump and his family and was an ardent supporter of his presidential campaign.