Mr. Sharafuddin Sharaf is a former senior officer of Dubai Police. He joined the Dubai Police on 1 February 1970 and was holding the rank of Major General when he retired in January 2004.
The Sharaf Group was founded in 1976 by Mr. Sharafuddin Sharaf and his brother, Mr. Ibrahim Sharaf. The Group, which has completed thirty four years in the UAE, also has businesses in Bahrain, Djibouti, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia Mozambique, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Mr. Sharafuddin is the Vice-Chairman of the Group presently.
The Group owns many different companies in various fields including financial services, industrial factories, information technology, logistics, real estate, retail shops, shipping agencies, ship ownership, travel and tourism, etc.
Mr. Sharafuddin, together with nine retired police officers, founded the First Security Group on 23 June 2004 which renders all types of security services.
Q. Can you tell us something about the Sharaf Group’s history?
A. The Sharaf Group started with Sharaf Shipping Agency, which remains the flagship operation of the company and, today, gives it the most recognized face in the shipping and logistics industry.
Incidentally today, Sharaf Shipping provides services to the ship owners, operators and managers all over the Indian sub-continent, Middle East, East Africa, West Africa, North Africa and the Red Sea.
Q. Sharaf Group is in various businesses mainly, Information Technology; Shipping; Retail; Real Estate; Financial Services; Consumer Products; Travel & Tourism and Construction. As an industry observer for so many decades, which sector do you feel has the most growth potential? Which business will be the most lucrative over the near and long term?
A. The core strength of Sharaf Group lies in its ability to provide trustworthy state-of-the-art custodianship services for our business partners, principals, vendors, customers, investors, etc.
Given the tremendous strength, we believe our Shipping, Retail, Real Estate and Information Technology businesses will grow, complementary to each other all the time. In principle, all the businesses should be lucrative over the near and long term if they’re researched well, structured well and operated well.
In this regard, the Group has accumulated tremendous experience and knowledge in structuring the organizations for each business so that they can deliver the right products and services at the right time and price. And if possible, to try and exceed expectations at all times of not only their customers but also the expectations of their own team members.
Q. What are the reasons behind the immense goodwill that the Group has enjoyed over the years?
A. The reason behind the immense goodwill that the Group enjoys is its ability to deliver most reliable and trustworthy custodianship services. We can always be trusted to take good care of third party assets, and ensure their correct delivery at the right time, place and price. This, in turn, gives us the ability to handle billions of dollars of assets of other parties and ensure their safe custody and delivery.
In brief, we can be trusted at all times and this is our hard-earned goodwill over the last over 30 years.
Q. The shipping industry, which is one of the core businesses of Sharaf Group, was hit hard by the recent recession. How is the Group coping with this crisis?
A. The shipping industry like all other industries, was hit hard by the recent recession. However, because of the mobility of the shipping assets, we were in a better position to manoever the movement of the assets to the right areas at the right times in order to reduce the impact of the recession.
Secondly, the excellent trust and the reliable image which we have built over several decades has ensured that our customers continue to support us even in the difficult times.
However, all credit must go to our very strong, loyal and dedicated business teams who have stood solidly behind the company in these difficult times. They have ensured that we have not only emerged stronger than before but, on a comparative basis, are probably the best placed to participate in the growth story which will should start again from 2011 onwards.
Q. What is the partners’ vision as regards the future of the Group.
A. The vision of the partners is to continue the Group’s core principles and provide support to our business groups to continue to excel and grow in the core business areas.
Q: What is your view on the future of the real estate and construction industry in Dubai.
A. The real estate and construction industry in Dubai, like all mature economies, will continue to provide the impetus for Dubai to grow economically on a sound footing given its excellent infrastructure, state-of-the-art telecommunications and excellent security systems in place.
This in turn will ensure on a long term basis, the development of real estate and construction, which should continue to provide stable growth and returns. However, in the near term, Dubai has currently, possibly an excess of infrastructure which in principle is a good asset. An excess of goodness is always welcome” is an old saying.
Q. As an experienced businessman in the UAE, what message would you like to convey to budding entrepreneurs in the region?
A. Dubai and its Rulers have always provided budding entrepreneurs with ample opportunities and a good platform for growth. Dubai is today a truly international city with an international network and connectivity. And as such, continuous opportunities will emerge and if the entrepreneurs have a sharp eye, there will be ample opportunity to do and achieve.