Dubai’s Donald: Hussain Sajwani

Some have called him the “Donald of Dubai.” The comparison could be seen as apt. Chairman, CEO and founder of the DAMAC Group Hussain Sajwani has built a name as well as a fortune in real estate development–just as U.S. president Donald Trump did.


Sajwani got early exposure to entrepreneurship. His father was a shop owner who sold watches. Sajwani’s own career path led him to the food service industry where he did well. He continued on into the world of real estate development–an arena in which he has been extremely successful.


In 2002, Sajwani founded Damac Properties. The company came on the scene at just the right time. It was well-positioned to take advantage of a governmental decree that allowed non-UAE citizens to own property. For Sajwani, that meant having numerous foreign buyers for the apartments that he intended to build.


A purchase of land in what was, at the time, an undeveloped part of Dubai yielded a good return on Sajwani’s investment. The units of his first 38-story residential building were fully sold before construction even began.


Sajwani’s business savvy has paid off very well. He has built up a net worth of about $4.2 billion for himself, and he is credited with changing Dubai’s skyline. He helped to transform the city into a glittering destination.


It isn’t just Sajwani’s billions or involvement in real estate development that has earned the 64-year-old the comparison to Trump. His company has worked with Trump on a couple of golf course projects: The Trump International Golf Course Dubai and the Trump World Golf Course.


Sajwani and Trump have both expressed admiration for each other. Shortly after winning the presidency, Trump described the self-made billionaire as “a very, very, very amazing man” and spoke of a $2 billion real estate deal that he’d had to turn down in order to avoid a conflict of interest.


On Sajwani’s side, the billionaire has expressed the desire to do more business with the Trump Organization, which is Trump’s real estate business. His friendship with the Trump family goes beyond the U.S. president, too. He has close ties with Trump children Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr. as well.


Sajwani is not just all about business, either. He and his company have been active in philanthropy as well. Among his efforts have been the support of refugees in support of thousands of refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.