Bader Abdullah Al-Darwish, Chairman And Managing Director, Darwish Holding On Leadership And Doing Business Responsibly

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“I love what I do. I have a great team, and they’re like my family. I think with time and experience you learn to trust people who are qualified to run the business. Give people time, and then you will see if they deliver or not. Seeing is believing, and when I see someone that I’ve designated a job to delivering on his work, then bigger responsibilities are given.”

Darwish Holding
Bader Abdullah Al-Darwish

1. GAIN EVERYTHING YOU CAN FROM MENTORSHIP “Frankly, when I was very, very young, I hated touring with my father doing business. He used to force me to go- I wanted to be out playing football. It taught me discipline, patience, and respect. Sometimes, I would sit for hours with my father during when he was doing business, all over the Gulf! I was a young adult when my father passed away in 1986, and he was 70. That taught me responsibility early on, I was determined to grow the business and make it successful- he planted the seed and all the business needed at that time was someone to fertilize it and grow it. Through daring but calculated moves, thank God we managed to do it.”

2. PROTECT PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS “My father and his brothers created this business empire. The secret of success of my father and both of my uncles rests in relationships; there is almost nothing more important than this for you to succeed. My father had very strong relationships with ruling families inside and outside of Qatar and he earned his respect across the GCC by keeping his word, and working hard. When I took over the business, I didn’t just live on that legacy that my father built as a base. My father said, ‘Son, it’s very hard to build a name and a reputation, but it’s very easy to ruin it.’ What I inherited from his wise experience stayed with me through everything. This is why I took over those relationships, and I hope that I could further strengthen them leading to excellent relationships with our partners, our distributors, and our customers.”

3. CONTINUOUSLY REEVALUATE THE STATUS QUO “My grandfather started humbly over 100 years ago, and now, where we are, we continue to modernize and develop on pace with globalization. I hate to say we’ve reached the peak- no. Instead, we need to see any mistakes, learn from them, and assess the future of what we’re facing. It’s very easy to say, ‘We reached the peak- we have excellent market share and history,’ but to continue upwards, you must always do better. We will continue to innovate internal processes, and bring operations up to more successful reaches. Even in corporate governance we have strong procedures, but something can always be improved.”

4. MASTER TIME MANAGEMENT “To succeed, you must know how to control time, and make up your mind quickly so you can take the next step. If I want to finish business, I would give it to someone who is busy, and who knows with experience that time is very important for them. If you give it to someone who is semi-retired, it will take him ages to make up his mind. Busy people are productive.”

5. TAKING OVER THE FAMILY BIZ “Try your best to follow your forefathers’ footsteps, take the business and grow it- don’t just be satisfied. To the young GCC youth: be pragmatic, be realistic, and forget your ego. Put it aside, and keep learning. If you make a mistake, think positive, and learn what can be done different and better. Set goals for your business, but within reason so that you can achieve. You have to believe in what you’re doing.”

6. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS “Rely on capable people but at the same time, you need to do your own follow up. You need to delegate, yes, but the responsibility of follow up is solely on you. Never completely depend on anyone but yourself if you want to succeed.” 

Abdullah Al-Darwish with King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani in Saudi Arabia

Doing business responsibly means giving back to your community 

“As part of our organizational culture, Darwish Holding has placed a major emphasis on contributing to society, and engaging with the local community. It’s an ethos that was instilled by the founder, my late father, Abdullah Al-Darwish. Every division of [the company] invests time, effort, and resources to make meaningful contributions across sports, academic, healthcare and social initiatives.”

As part of Darwish Holding’s core value system, the group consistently strives to back activities that positively impact environment, society, and the nation. Participation in sports and wellness is key, including the support of the Qatar Exxon Mobil Open, the Emir Cup, and the Qatar Total Open. In terms of academic-centric initiatives, they provide educational avenues to worthy candidates via the Abdullah Al Darwish Scholarships for Weill Cornell Medical College, and the Abdullah Al Darwish Prize for Young Researches in Islamic Studies. Working particularly with children and elderly, Darwish Holding also donates to local and international orphanages and nursing homes including ones in Lebanon and France. In addition, the company actively supports community-oriented programs such as Lagoona Mall’s backing of Autism awareness in collaboration with IFC, and Shaffalah, the Sony brand’s work with the Qatar Foundation for Elderly People Care, amongst others.